Religious Populism: The Coup de Grâce to Secularisation Theories

 

Ionuț APAHIDEANU

Doctoral School of Political Science, University of Bucharest

 

Abstract: The present article argues that spectacularly proliferating forms of religious populism as a contemporary easily recognisable phenomenon worldwide, Europe included, have administered a deathblow not so much to the classic secularisation paradigm, which has been rather comatose since the early 1990s, as - especially and crucially so - to the updated, narrowed-down, “macro” version of secularisation behind which “neosecularists” within the sociology of religion comfortably barricaded themselves about two decades ago. In the development of this argument, I shall: firstly operationalise “religious populism” as a conceptual and phenomenological subset of populism; secondly I shall provide an overview of the two secularisation theoretical versions; finally I shall address religious populism worldwide in terms of secularisation and specifically isolate the sub-phenomenon of Islamophobic populism which has been increasingly manifesting itself at the societal level in contemporary Western Europe, i.e. the very (supposedly) “heartland” of secularity, and which I consider to be the last, and this time decisive, confutation to secularisation theories.

Keywords: religious populism, secularisation, Islamophobia,

Western Europe.

 

 

1.       OPERATIONALISING THE INDEFINABLE: (RELIGIOUS) POPULISM

 

Approximating “religious populism” seems quite a challenge for the social scientist, considering that over half of century of literature in the field did not yet succeed in providing an at least majoritarily, let alone consensually, accepted standard meaning of the very paternal term of “populism”. Regrettably similar to other crucial concepts in political sciences such as “democracy”, “power”, or “self-determination”, populism also belongs to a category of umbrella-terms whose frequency of usage, in both the academic and political realms, seems inversely proportional to the accuracy of its meaning; in the diagnosis phrasing of a leading authority on the theme, “[a] persistent feature of the literature on populism is its reluctance – or difficulty – in giving the concept any precise meaning. Notional clarity – let alone definition – is conspicuously absent from this domain”[1].

Indeed, constitutively ambiguous[2], highly volatile in time and space depending on a variety of political, social, cultural and economic factors[3], the term[4] of “populism” seems to elude, if not openly defy, “any comprehensive definition”[5], at least any aiming at genus proximumdifferentia specifica standards. Illustratively, it has been used in probably over a dozen ways to alternatively refer to: an ideology; a socio-political expression of (a) certain social class(es); an anti-modernist reaction; a type or instrument of political organisation; a scientific (sub-)discipline; an electoral discourse strategy or technique of a manipulative type; a category of political parties[6]; an analytical instrument in approaching the direct vs. representative democracy conceptual dichotomy; a descriptive antonymous term for elitism; a macro-economic program; a normative label of political behaviour; a general socio-political-cultural anti-intellectual standing, etc.

Starting from this predicament and envisaging the beneficent conceptual clarifications provided by the other contributors to the journal’s current thematic issue on populism, this article avoids any theoretical-analytical approaches of the subject and, employing around two dozens of specific researches, operationalises “populism” as a borderline category of ideology. This quasi-ideology may subsequently be addressed didactically in four fundamental dimensions: descriptively, normatively, explicatively, and prescriptively.

Descriptively, populism lays out a holistic and organic conceptualisation of its fundamental, irreducible unit – the people, who feature a “general will” which transgresses quite a few other classic cleavages envisaged in political sciences, i.e. left-right, urban-rural, gender, frequently religious denomination, etc.[7] In terms of identity and identification, this inclusivism is accompanied by a double (antagonistic) exclusion, the people being differentiated: on the horizontal from non-members of the people; on the vertical,  from the elites, who – as I shall detail below – do not, or no longer, represent the people.

Normatively, populism revolves around the “intrinsic and immediate validity”[8] and undisputed and mandatory supremacy[9] of vox populi on which “good” politics and society necessarily centre on; the people being apriorically presumed as a source of virtue[10], the only valid claim to legitimacy “rests on the democratic ideology of popular sovereignty and majority rule”[11], so that a “just” society is characterised by an unmediated and asymmetrical relationship between people and their government, the latter serving fully and solely the first[12]. Inherently to this evaluative framework, non-members of the people are at least irrelevant, not worthy of consideration in the building of society and politics, and at the most undesirable, so that any form of populism involves a certain degree of xenophobia[13].

On the vertical, elites (usually political, but intrinsically also anti-intellectual[14]) are demonised antagonistically, being portrayed, in populism’s fundamental explicative dimension, as having escaped popular control and betrayed the (genuine) people’s interests[15]. Often explicitly or implicitly correlated with a form of nostalgia for a mythical past[16], i.e. some sort of “golden age” of direct democracy and hegemony of the people, the explanation thus suggests a negative historical evolution, a gradual deterioration of the political, whose nadir is the modern, representative democracy type of political system, which is only a façade “which conceal[s] autocracies dominated by the oligarchic interests of corrupt elites”[17].

Logically subsequent, the prescriptive dimension allows the classification of populism as anti-system, or anti-establishment[18], since it advocates not merely that “the primacy of the people has to be restored [… and that] the elites in power have to be ousted and replaced by leaders capable of acting for the good of the community”[19], but, essentially, a radical change of the political system’s structures and procedures.

As such, populism as a quasi-ideology further assumes three cumulative characteristics which analytically enhance the isolation of its theoretical and phenomenological essence: (a) it is intrinsically anti-modernistic, not only by the antagonism between its collectivism and holism on the one hand and the individualism and pluralism promoted by modernity[20] on the other hand, but also because it psychologically involves a response to rapid societal changes that threaten “to destroy a hitherto stable and secure identity”[21]; thus, prescriptively, populism recommends an alternative to the unsatisfactory “standard path from traditional to modernity”[22] (b) interrelated, it intensely builds on emotionality[23], manipulating “the passions of the ordinary people”[24]; (c) its organizational form of expression is highly fluid in time and space[25].

Approaching the second key-term, the very fact that, from Jesus to Mohammed and from Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr., religious leaders “have rarely been outside politics”[26], combined with the “quasi-religious qualities”[27] of political ideologies may offer a generic explanation of why “populism seems to spill over so easily from the secular to moral fundamentalism with its quasi-religious imagery”[28], in a tendency highlighted by the fact that “in countries as diverse as Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey, Israel, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Algeria, and the United States, ostensibly secular state actors sought to co-opt the ideas and activists with religious fundamentalisms”[29] (Hibbard 2010: 4). Both religion and political ideology ultimately advancing a Weltanschauung meant to comprehensively orientate man in his existence, it seems only natural that populism as a (nominally) political phenomenon also more or less frequently embraces a religious dimension.

In this sense, I operationalise “religious populism” as a subtype of populism manifested in two frequently overlapping dimensions: mainly as “religious politics” (i.e. a “religiosization of politics”, meaning a populist usage by politicians of religious elements) and, less often and analytically less accurate, but not negligible, as “political religion” (i.e. a “politicisation of religion”, directed mainly by religious actors increasingly involved in politics).

In the first dimension, religious populism represents a specific, visibly populist, albeit not always clearly distinguishable, subtype of religious politics. The latter, broader, category covers a variety of forms, from the Bosnian genocide to the rise of the Christian right in contemporary United States and from the emergence of Hindu nationalism to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the Middle East and South Asia[30], some sociologists actually considering it a distinct shape within typologies of religious organisation – “politicised religion”[31]. In its specific difference, it involves a populist exploitation of religious elements, especially in electoral campaigns; the Romanian readers of this article might for instance recall Emil Constantinescu’s “golden bullet” of the final presidential electoral debate of 1996, when he unexpectedly cornered his self-declared “free thinking” opponent, Ion Iliescu: “Mister Iliescu, do you believe in God?”[32]; similarly, during the last presidential elections campaign, the Social-Democrat candidate Mircea Geoană seemed to have acknowledged his predecessor’s vulnerability and consequently rushed into visiting the holy relics then displayed at the Orthodox Patriarchy in Bucharest, however unhesitatingly skipping, in front of the TV cameras, the thousands-long queue of (genuine) believers[33].

In its second dimension, applicable par excellence in Latin America[34], religious populism refers to a politicisation of religious actors, which become increasingly involved in politics and society. In Latin America, in the broader context of the Liberation Theology[35] gradually unfolded in the post-war years, local churches began manifesting an increasing identification with the poor, a de-clericalisation of leadership, experimentation with new organisational forms, and a rejection of rigid hierarchical authority[36].

Thus operationalised, religious populism fluidly covers a phenomenological area that idiosyncratically combines religious revitalisation and political and social activism, modernity-related identity crises, and an increasing disillusionment with (post-) modernity and with the currently mainstream political philosophy on good government and society, the latter manifested locally as Euroscepticism. Essentially, it represents a subtype of populism, whose dimensions it fully replicates, but in a specific religious key: descriptively, the fundamental unit is still the people, but one further specified according to religious identity and as such distinguishable from outsiders; normatively, there is or should not be a higher imperative than this religious people’s view, which, explicatively[37], is thought to be an ideal disrespected by current elites[38]; prescriptively, these elites must, obviously, be overthrown and replaced by duly servants of the (religious) people. Specifically in comparison to other types of populism, the religious one bears an additional anti-modernist emphasis, one explainable by the significantly dialectical nature between traditional religion and secular modernity; in Yoshua Yates’ words, “[g]lobal modernity has transformed the nature of religious belief and the practice of religion. One crucial change has been the resurgence of publicly active religious populism. However, policy makers and social scientists, burdened with a secularist bias, have failed to grasp the full nature of this phenomenon”[39].

Finally, empirically, the frequency of the term “religious populism” seems still to have increased during the last decades in the fields of both political sciences and (the) sociology of religion. In the sense I am using in this article[40], the term was arguably coined by Fred Halliday in a 1982 book on the Iranian Revolution of 1979[41]. In Latin America, the ‘80s witnessed the emergence of “a new form of populism […] significantly affected by religion”[42], one qualitatively different from the previous, rather secular and extensively studied forms of populism, such as the ones characteristic to Juan Peron in Argentina, Getulio Vargas in Brazil, or Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico. Nowadays, the phenomenon of religious populism in Latin America seems generalised[43]. In the Middle East, aside from innumerous studies covering the complex relation between Islam and local politics, scholars have begun to use the term in reference to Israeli forms of populism such as the one promoted by Avigdor Lieberman and his right populist party Yisrael Beitenu[44]. In Europe, populism in general is on the rise[45], including – as I shall develop – its religious subtype. Across the Atlantic, religious populism seems indeed “endemic to North American culture”[46] and especially so in the United States, where, according to Nathan Hatch, “religious populism […] remains among the oldest and deepest impulses in American life”[47]: starting with the rural-social-gospel version of populism during the 1890s[48], “the emotive language of religious identity” being “a significant part of populism’s success”[49] explains the locally recurrent manifestation of religious populism; aside from the peculiar and prominent symbiosis of religion, family and patriotism in the American political discourse of the Cold War Era[50] and also aside from the notorious “Messianism” of American foreign politics, even in contemporary times, both Democrat and Republican presidents conclude their prominent speeches with the classic ending “God bless (you and) America”[51].

 

 

2.       THE SECULARISATION THEORETICAL CONSTRUCTS: AN VERVIEW

 

Although traceable back to the Age of Enlightenment[52], the “long standing consensus”[53] in socio-humanistic sciences that had reunited the leading authors in philosophy, psychology, anthropology and sociology around the conviction that, as societies modernise, religion, especially Christianity, will in the best case be “privatized”[54] and in the worst case scenario disappear altogether[55], was only articulated and formalised in a theoretical construction during the 1960s, when secularisation was integrated by sociologists of religion into the broader family of modernisation theories.

In this thematic and discipline context, the leading secularist Bryan R. Wilson also provided one of the – judging by the number of quotations - reference definitions of secularisation as the process whereby religious “thinking” / “consciousness”, “practice” / “actions” and “institutions” “lose their social significance”[56]. Similarly in its far reaching scope, at the turn of the millennium, Steve Bruce’s definition of secularisation seems noteworthy:

“[…] a social condition manifest in (a) the declining importance of religion for the operation of non-religious roles and institutions such as those of the state and the economy; (b) a decline in the social standing of religious roles and institutions; and (c) a decline in the extent to which people engage in religious practices, display beliefs of a religious kind, and conduct other aspects of their lives in a manner informed by such beliefs”.[57]

 

In between these two definitions and moments in time, the sociology of religion witnessed the gradual aggregation of what was to become known as “the classic secularization paradigm”, a broad theoretical construct which, given the considerable differences among secularist authors[58], I analytically represent in the table below along three levels of analysis and corresponding to the two major traditions of the discipline, i.e. Durkheim’s functional differentiation of societies, and Weber’s rationalization of human activity:

Table 1. Operationalisation of the “classic secularization paradigm” at three levels and along two traditions pertaining to the sociology of religion[59]

Relatively predictable, such an epistemological ambition of building a “metanarrative”[60], a “story about large-scale social change”, meant to comprehensively explain no less than “one of the greatest changes in social structure and culture: the displacement of religion from the centre of human life” starting with the Middle Ages[61], opened a spectacularly wide and interdisciplinary array of criticism paths. This criticism, initiated in the 1960, exponentially intensified and amplified thematically during the next two decades[62], gathering arguably whole libraries of critical books and articles that were contesting the secularisation paradigm in all possible regards: its taxonomical and theoretical disjointedness; its fundamental premises[63]; its methodological approach[64]; its empirical support; (somewhat conclusively) its dogmatism.

Subsequently and consequently, the aforementioned long-standing consensus among secularists rapidly crumbled down, as more and more authors concluded that, globally, God was not at all “dead”, per a contrario, religion[65], magicians[66], sorcerers[67], and God[68] were all back. As harsh critics began to even ask openly for the term “secularization” to be “dropped from all theoretical discourse”[69]  and, in light of “three centuries of utterly failed prophecies”, for the “secularization doctrine” to be taken to “the graveyard of failed theories”[70], the classic secularization paradigm seems to have entered a “coma”; in the lament of one of its eponymous advocates, albeit probably the only one left, nowadays “it is assumed that all right thinking people are against it”[71].

In this context, some authors of the besieged secularist camp, such as Mark Chaves, Oliver Tschannen, Karel Dobbelaere, Frank J. Lechner, or David Yamane[72], regrouped around the fundamental premise that Durkheim’s theorisation of societal differentiation was still valid and of heuristic value, and correspondingly redefined secularisation in a “macro” version strictly confined to the societal level and definable grosso modo as “the declining scope of religious authority” in society[73]. Conveniently enough, such a narrowing down of the argument, combined with the redundant explicit emphasis that the “religiosity of individuals in not a valid indicator of societal secularization”[74], eludes any controversy, since the overwhelming majority of modern sociologists of religion unconditionally support the validity of Durkheim’s foundational thesis of societal differentiation: “If this were all that secularization means, there would be nothing to argue about”[75].

For the sake of the argument, let us assume here that it does (only mean that). In this logic, state and church are expected to be completely separate, the public discourse and the public policies should be a-religious, with religion progressively marginalised from the public space into the private, individual, realm, on an observable declining trend at the societal level. Furthermore, this should be applicable par excellence in Western Europe, an area consensually considered among sociologists to be the secularised part of the globe, tributary to its peculiar historical evolution (i.e., the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, the political secularisation, the high levels and rates of modernisation, etc.). Let us see in the following whether this hypothesis is verified.

3.       RELIGIOUS POPULISM IN THE FIEF OF SECULARITY:

Western Europe’s mainstreamed Islamophobia

 

Although still applied predominantly in Latin American studies, the term of “populism” has been increasingly associated with European leaders, movements or parties[76], starting with the re-emergence of right-wing extremism/populism somewhere during the ‘90s[77], or even the ‘80s[78], in the broader context of multiple various contemporary trends locatable analytically at three levels: (a) at the global level, the aforementioned worldwide “resurgence of religion”, catalysed by the emergence of various political actors “with avowedly religious agendas”[79], fatefully prophesied by Huntington’s 1996 seminal The Clash of Civilizations, only to be seemingly confirmed by the “9/11” turning point in international relations; (b) at the sub-systemic non-regional level of the Western world, an increasing disenchantment with the hyper-rationalised secular (post-/ultra-)modernity[80], right-wing populists exploiting this trend by playing nationalist and xenophobic prejudices against complexity and cosmopolitanism[81]; (c) at the sub-systemic regional level of (especially Western) Europe, the deepening perception of a not only EU institutional, but generally political, “democratic deficit” of the modern representative systems[82], one aggravated by the dismantling of the welfare state systems starting with the ‘80s and, simultaneously, the increase in Muslim immigration rates into “old Europe”.

In this context, Europe’s populist radical right gradually developed a new, religious, dimension of political discourse and practice, innovating itself under an ideological umbrella which Cas Mudde calls “nativism” and considers to hold prescriptively that “states should be inhabited exclusively by members of the native group” and that “non-native elements (persons and ideas) are fundamentally threatening” to the idealised homogeneity of the native group[83]. Somewhat predictable in the same context, considering for instance that, except for Ulster, an inter-confessional Protestant versus Roman-Catholic conflict seems long forgotten history throughout Europe, the new “enemy” threatening the religious identity of the state-people unit was rapidly, integrally, and definitively identified as the Islam. Thus, a new form of religious populism gained hegemony in modern Western Europe: Islamophobic populism.

This new form is religious populism by all aforementioned taxonomic criteria: descriptively, it im- or ex-plicitly refers to a native Christian collectivity (nation or continental population), “invaded” by Muslims, who are depicted holistically (Islam), antagonistically and normatively negative (as violent and retrograde); explicatively it accuses the corruption of national or EU political elites, who are supposed to have encouraged or at least turned a blind eye on the infamous Muslim immigration; prescriptively, it advocates the restriction of religious rights for Muslims (from banning the construction of mosques to prohibiting specific religious costumes such as female headscarves) and some kind of restoration and duly observance of Christian roots[84]; analytically, massively building on Huntington’s book[85], it exploits passions and emotions, as suggested by the very word “phobia”; furthermore, it is profoundly anti-modernist in that, as any type of (religious) populism, it rejects pluralism, minority rights[86] and the very “defining trait of contemporary progressive thought”, i.e. “the right to be different” – ethnically, linguistically, sexually, or in this specific case, religiously[87].

Empirically, the phenomenon seems widespread across contemporary Western Europe. Not aiming at a systematisation, nor at a quantification of party-related Islamophobia, which I consider misleading[88], let me briefly indicate a few relevant cases. In Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party is not only xenophobic and homophobic, but “also religious[ly] fundamentalist[89]. In the Netherlands, once an Eden of religious pluralism and tolerance, the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid), led by notorious Geert Wilders, who openly states that Islam is not a religion, but an “ideology of a retarded culture”[90] , holds at the moment of writing 10 of the 75 Senate seats and 14 of the 150 of the House of Representatives[91], being the fourth largest party of the country; in the same country, the equally notorious politician Pim Fortuyn, who had called Islam a “backward culture”[92], was assassinated during the 2002 national elections campaign by a fellow Dutch environmental activist who blamed him of using Muslims as a scapegoat[93]. In the neighbouring Belgium, The Flemish Interest (Vlaams Belang), which “violently attacks Islam”[94], describing it as an “inherently fundamentalist and imperialist religion-cum-ideology”[95], currently holds around 17% of the regional Flemish Parliament’s seats[96]. One step farther, in France, the Front National set up in the ‘70s by Jean-Marie le Pen (who came in second in the presidential elections of 2002) and currently led by his daughter Marine, seems to have reverted its declining trend of the 2000s, scoring 12% of the national votes at the regional elections of 2010[97] and being ranked first in the electoral preferences for the upcoming elections this year as measured in polls of the 2013 autumn[98]. Across the English Channel, the hard eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP) currently holds 12% of the European Parliament seats allocated to the Kingdom, whereas its leader has repeatedly expressed his support for outlawing Islamic headscarves in Europe, and one of its officials blatantly called Islam “a cancer which needs to be cured with radiation”[99]. Farther north, in Norway, a terrorist like the infamous Anders Behring Breivik, a self-proclaimed Crusader against cultural Marxism and Islam, does not simply appear ex nihilo, in a country where his opinions are not at least marginally shared. Italy’s Lega Nord, that once “used to largely ignore the issue of religion”[100], nowadays “plays a significant role in emphasising xenophobia against Islam” in the country[101]. In the German cultural realm, the Freedom Party of Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs), whose former leader Jörg Haider had decreed already in the ‘90s that “the social order of Islam is opposed to our Western values” has abandoned its long-standing anticlerical position, to become one of the staunchest supporters of orthodox Catholicism[102]. In Germany, former Christian Democrat politician Rene Stadtkewitz recently founded the Liberty Party[103] around his conviction that Islam is “the opposite of a free society”[104]. Finally, without exhausting the examples, Switzerland’s People Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei), which had gradually transformed itself from a conservative agrarian party into an exponent of the populist right[105], has become in 2003 the country’s strongest party and currently holds 54 of the National Council’s 200 seats[106].

The last example brings me to the following, and by far more relevant, argument in favour of religious, mainly Islamophobic, populism having delivered the deathblow to the two secularisation versions. One might, considering electoral performances, argue that the above-listed examples are only marginal, of “extremist” parties, hence irrelevant to Western European societies. I argue that, aside from the relativity of interpreting electoral scores, Islamophobic populism has actually and critically been – in the phrasing of A. Kallis[107] – “mainstreamed” from the extremes of the political spectrum to conventionally pro-system, mainstream parties and politicians.

Switzerland’s People Party offers, as said, a first relevant, but by no means singular, example of this trend. It was members of this governing party, together with members of the Federal Democratic Union, who launched a Constitutional revision initiative in 2007 towards prohibiting the construction of new mosque minarets in Switzerland, in what was to become popularly known as “the minaret controversy”. The origin of the crisis may be traced back to 2005, when the Turkish Cultural Association in Wangen bei Olten applied for the local construction of a minaret. The request was rejected by the local authorities, which determined the applicants to sue them and finally win their case before the Federal Supreme Court in July 2009.

During this timeframe however, the crisis escalated gradually, both on the horizontal, and on the vertical, and in 2007 the aforementioned politicians set up a committee aiming at a Constitutional ban on building new minarets in Switzerland[108]. Noteworthy enough, opposition to the popular/populist initiative seemed generalised: not only did both the federal Executive[109] and the Legislative[110] recommend the rejection of the legislative project, but the initiative was extensively criticised by various NGOs, lawyers[111], Catholic bishops[112] and essentially all locally represented religious institutions, aside from dozens of repudiations at the international level. However, consonant with populism’s elites versus the people dialectic, some journalists suggestively labelled the controversy under the title “When the state doesn’t understand the people anymore”[113] in trying to somehow explain why the initiative maintained its procedural course, despite the establishment’s opposition, and why the November 29, 2009 was – for some observers “shocking and largely unexpected”[114] – eventually approved by a national majority of 57.5% of the votes (that is over a million and a half voters)[115], given a total turnout of 53.4%.

Among the international reactions, aside from the enthusiastic and predictable greetings of the result by right-wing European populists (e.g. the French Front National, the Belgian Vlaams Belang, the Danish People’s Party, the Italian Lega Nord, the Dutch Partij voor de Virjheid), some of the European leaders were not at all unitary in condemning the ban. Within EU’s Franco-German nucleus for instance, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner denounced the referendum as an “expression of intolerance”[116], but president Sarkozy however fatefully asserted: “Instead of irrevocably condemning the Swiss People, let’s also try to understand what it sought to express and what so many peoples in Europe, including the French, feel”[117]. Similarly, in Germany, senior (governing) CDU member Wolfgang Bosbach rejected criticism of the result as “counterproductive” and attributed it to a growing fear of Islamisation which “must be taken seriously”[118]. These aren’t mere marginal reactions of insignificant extremists, but convictions openly expressed by leaders of the governing parties within EU’s “heart”. Moreover, and not at all alarmist, the referendum might have set up a trend; both Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Pia Kjaersgaard (leader of the Danish People’s Party) announced they would press their governments towards organising similar referendums[119].

The second category of examples also started from Switzerland, but already entered the space of the European Union, and refers to the wearing of Islamic headscarves in public institutions, especially state schools. In its significance captured by a constitutionalist, “the emergence of the constitutional issue of the hijab in the decisions of European courts indicates the expansion of a problem that had seemed to be confined to the extra-European area”[120]. It all started in the 1990s from a Muslim female teacher in Châteaine (Swiss canton Geneva) whose case eventually reached the European Court of Human Rights, which upheld the decision of Swiss authorities[121] and thus diagnosed an “imaginary disease” to which it also prescribed an “antidote”[122]. This case too shows signs of “mainstreaming”. In neighbouring France, where the state does not officially recognise religious minorities, only citoyens, the same problem arose on the public agenda in 2003, when the “Stasi commission” successfully recommended the political authorities the adoption of a ban on wearing religious symbols in schools, the main target being the hijab, and its “collateral victims” the Jewish kipot and “large” Christian crosses[123]. Eventually, in April 2011, the French authorities extended the ban on both face-covering and full-body covering versions (niqabs and burqas) in all public circumstances. In what might signal an incipient domino effect, Belgium followed three months later, whereas a similar bill in the Netherlands was almost adopted in 2012, only to be temporarily dropped following the government collapse[124].

The third and, for reasons of parsimony, last case selected here refers to what has been labelled EU’s “most difficult enlargement ever”[125], specifically to the autumn 2004 public Europe-wide controversy on whether to open or not accession negotiations with Turkey at the December  European Council of the same year. Although in most of the cases, EU officials framed the issue in neutral, structural-technical terms, the Huntington-inspired “civilizational” dimension was quite often a strident one, not only in mass media comments, but also in the statements of political leaders, especially – sic – Christian Democrats, former and incumbent. Similar for instance to CDU and European Parliament member Wolfgang Bosbach, who warned that Turkey’s membership would “completely change the EU’s structure”[126], the at that moment European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Frits Bolkestein, feared that if Turkey were to join, the EU would “implode”[127]; he nevertheless added that the EU had already become “more Muslim”, warned of an – expressis verbis – “Islamisation of Europe”  and its “loss of identity” and even expressed his fear that the 1683 relief of Vienna might have been “in vain”[128]. Among the supporters of negotiation opening, the EU Commissioner for External Relations, Chris Patten, nevertheless framed the issue in the same religious terms when he warned that a new refusal would “send a message to the Islamic world which confirms much of what many people think about the inevitable clash of civilizations”[129].

Outside the European political leadership, the opposition’s tone rapidly radicalised, the prospect of Turkey’s accession being deemed in a variety of terms spreading from “unrealistic” (e.g. former German chancellor Helmuth Schmidt) to “disastrous” (e.g. former German foreign minister “Joschka” Fischer[130]). Relevantly, even the soon-to-be Pope, at that moment influential Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, joined the debate; recurrently stating his conviction that Europe is not a mere geographic reality, but “a cultural and historical concept” with Christian roots[131],  he stated that “Turkey has always represented a different continent, in permanent contrast to Europe”[132].

True enough, the European Council eventually voted in favour of opening accession talks, but public statements as the ones listed above, as to the previous two types of cases, suggest an revitalised and widespread awareness of religious collective identities which seems to have been exploited not only by marginal right-wing populists, but, increasingly so, by what would normally be considered mainstream politicians. Restrictive measures against the right of European Muslims to dress up in public in accordance with their religious prescriptions and the obstruction of their very right to free religious practice by banning the building of minarets is proof of anything but the tolerant, liberal and enlightened spirit the European political construction so frequently claimed to be its defining, foundational characteristic. As for the specific case of Turkey’s EU integration, considering not only recent evolution both within the EU, and in Turkey, but also the very fact that the country first applied for associate membership to the European Economic Community more than half a century ago (more precisely in 1959), one might safely argue that accession could be procrastinated sine die.

4.       CONCLUSION

 

To sum up the argument, two apparently unrelated trends manifested at different levels of analysis during the last two-three decades have eventually met in a phenomenon which I consider at least a serious dubitation, if not a frontal and definitive rebuttal of the secularisation meta-narrative that has dominated social sciences for almost three centuries. On the one hand, at the systemic level, no well-intended scholar can any longer dispute what has been frequently labelled as a “global resurgence of religion”. Not aware of the peripheral role secularists had prophetically prescribed it, religion seems to not merely resist, but often actually “thrive”[133] in the contemporary public realm. As such, the long-standing consensus around the classic secularisation paradigm rapidly crumbled down starting with the beginning of the 1990s, and nowadays more and more sociologists of religion speak of a “desecularisation”[134] or “resacralisation”[135] of the world. Nevertheless, “neosecularists”, visibly discomforted by the variability of individual religiosity in space and time, have been barricading themselves for about two decades behind the “macro” version of secularisation, which quintessentially maintains the declining scope of the religious faith in the public realm – a thesis that remained mainly unchallenged at least in its narrow reference to Western Europe, the cradle of Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, and Enlightenment, and subsequently the very “heart” of secularity.

On the other hand, and apparently disjointedly, the sub-systemic continental level of Europe, especially in its Western part, witnessed over the same timeframe a gradual re-emergence of right-wing populism, in a reaction to what has become known as the “democratic deficit” of the European Union, and at a larger scale, a generalised disillusionment with the secular (post-) modernity. Purely secular and of strict political-economic nature in its beginnings, this new populism however quickly embraced a religious dimension and became almost exclusively Islamophobic, pari passu with increasing Muslim immigration rates registered throughout Western Europe. This Islamophobia is religious populism by all employable criteria: it is descriptively collectivist, normatively antagonistic, explicatively oriented against political elites and liberal intellectuals and prescriptively advocates an ousting of the political leadership by duly servants of the religiously defined people’s will. Furthermore, it is constitutively anti-modernist, organisationally fluid and exploits the passions and emotions of its adherents.

Finally – and therein lies the coup de grâce delivered to the neosecularist theory – out of a pragmatic fear of alienating (more) voters, this Islamophobic subtype of religious populism, initially confined to a few marginal and electorally irrelevant parties and political leaders, seems to have been increasingly “mainstreamed” from the periphery to the very pro-establishment medium segment of the political spectrum. Not only do “traditional” religious populists score increasingly higher scores in national elections, but, when it comes to issues such as Islamic headscarves, the building of mosque minarets, or Turkey’s seemingly never-ending EU accession story, the mainstream public political discourse displays a vivid religious dimension, one regrettably often undeniably and stridently Islamophobic. Religion in the very fief of secularity thus seems rather synchronised to evolutions worldwide, on a trend of genuine “deprivatisation”[136] instead of the privatisation neosecularists so often prophesied.

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[1]Ernesto LACLAU, On Populist Reason, Verso, London and New York, 2005, p. 3.

[2] Yves MÉNY and Yves SUREL, “The Constitutive Ambiguity of Populism”, in Yves MÉNY and Yves SUREL (eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge, Palgrave, New York, 2002, pp. 1-21.

[3] Angus STEWART, “The Social Roots” in Ghiţă IONESCU and Ernest GELLNER (eds.), Populism: Its Meaning and National Characteristics, Macmillan, New York, 1969, pp. 180-196.

[4] Redundant to emphasise in light of the heuristic problems implied, I shall subsequently use the word “term” (or, alternatively, “notion”), instead of “concept”.

[5]Ernesto LACLAU, On Populist…cit., p. 3.

[6] An amphiboly which explains the term being frequently used, from the Freedom Party of Austria to the Greater Romanian Party, interchangeably with other labels such as “extreme / far right”, “anti-system”, “anti-establishment”, “neo-Nazi”, or “neo-fascist” (see also Yves MÉNY and Yves SUREL, “The Constitutive Ambiguity…cit.”, p. 4).

[7] Ibidem; Margaret CANOVAN, “Taking Politics to the People: Populism as the Ideology of Democracy”, in Yves MÉNY and Yves SUREL (eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge, Palgrave, New York, 2002, pp. 25-44; Cas MUDDE and Cristobal ROVIRA KALTWASSER, “Populism and (Liberal) Democracy: A Framework for Analysis”, in C. MUDDE and C. ROVIRA KALTWASSER (eds.), Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat of Corrective for Democracy?, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2012, pp. 1-16.

[8] William KORNHAUSER, The Politics of Mass Society, Free Press, New York, 1959, p. 104.

[9] Peter WORSLEY, “The Concept of Populism”, in G. IONESCU and E. GELLNER (eds.), Populism: Its Meaning and National Characteristics, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 1969, p. 244.

[10] Dani FILC, The Political Right in Israel: Different Faces of Jewish Populism, Routledge, New York, 2009, p. 8.

[11] Margaret CANOVAN, “Taking Politics…cit.”, p. 25.

[12] I.e. the direct type of democracy fostering imperative political mandates, as opposed to the representative type.

[13] Dani FILC, The Political Right…cit., p. 8.

[14]For more details see Richard HOFSTADTER, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, Vintage Books, New York, 1963, pp. 151-169.

[15] Yves MÉNY and Yves SUREL (eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge…cit., p. 12; Margaret CANOVAN, “Taking Politics…cit.”, p. 27.

[16] Dani FILC, The Political Right…cit., p. 8

[17] Yannis PAPADOPOULOS, “Populism, the Democratic Question, and Contemporary Governance”, in Yves MÉNY and Yves SUREL (eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge, Palgrave, New York, 2002, p. 47.

[18] Andreas SCHEDLER, “Anti-Political-Establishment Parties”, Party Politics, Vol. 2, No. 3, 1996, pp. 291-312; Guy HERMET, “Populisme et nationalisme”, Vingtième siècle, Vol. 56, 1997, pp. 34-47; Paul A. TAGGART, Populism, Open University Press, Buckingham, VA, 2000.

[19] Yves MÉNY and Yves SUREL (eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge…cit., p. 13.

[20] Cyril Edwin BLACK, The Dynamics of Modernization: A Study in Comparative History, Harper & Row, New York, 1966, p. 25; Steve BRUCE, God Is Dead. Secularization in the West, Blackwell, Oxford, 2002, pp. 2-4.

[21]Betz, 1990, p. 146, apud Dani FILC, The Political Right…cit., p. 15. For a discussion of the same effects of modernity on identities, see Samuel P. HUNTINGTON, Ordinea politică a societăţilor în schimbare, trans. H. Stamatin, Polirom, Iaşi, [1968] 1999.

[22] Benjamin ARDITI, Politics on the Edges of Liberalism: Difference, Populism, Revolution, Aggitation, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2007, p. 6.

[23] Christopher B. CHAPP, Religious Rhetoric and American Politics: The Endurance of Civil Religion in Electoral Campaigns, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 2012; Karen KAMPWIRTH, Gender and Populism in Latin America: Passionate Politics, Pennsylvania State University Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2010.

[24] Nathan O. HATCH, The Democratization of American Christianity, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1989, pp. 4-5.

[25] William KORNHAUSER, The Politics…cit.; Richard HOFSTADTER, Anti-Intellectualism…cit.; Robert WUTHNOW, Experimentation in American Religion: the New Mysticisms and Their Implications for the Churches, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1978, p. 196; Charles A. REILLY,  “Latin America’s Religious Populists”, in Daniel H. LEVINE (ed.), Religion and Political Conflict in Latin America, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1986; Ernesto LACLAU, On Populist…cit.

[26] John R. HINNELLS, “Why Study Religions?”, in John R. HINNELLS (ed.), The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion, Routledge and Taylor & Francis, Abingdon, UK, and New York, 2009, p. 7.

[27] Margaret CANOVAN, “Taking Politics…cit.”, p. 31.

[28]Paul A. TAGGART, “Populism and the Pathology of Representative Politics”, in Yves MÉNY and Yves SUREL (eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge, Palgrave, New York, 2002, p. 78.

[29] Scott W. HIBBARD, Religious Politics and Secular States: Egypt, India, and the United States, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 2010, p. 4.

[30] Idem, p. 5.

[31] Peter F. BEYER, “Social Forms of Religion and Religions in Contemporary Global Society”, in M. DILLON (ed.), Handbook of the Sociology of Religion, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003, pp. 45-60.

[32]See a fragment of the debate’s transcript in Jurnalul Naţional, November 16, 2006 (at http://jurnalul.ro/special-jurnalul/marea-confruntare-crezi-n-dumnezeu-domnule-iliescu-7869.html, accessed Febr. 2014).

[33]ProTV, Oct. 26, 2009 (at http://m.stirileprotv.ro/lbin/mobile/index.php?article_id=3209071, accessed Febr. 2014).

[34]But manifested also transnationally in pressures of religious institutions on political actors to adopt certain public policies, e.g. the Romanian Orthodox Church on the issue of biometric passports (http://www.spc.rs/eng/holy_synod_romanian_orthodox_church_calls_alternative_biometric_passports, accessed Febr. 2014), or the Greek Orthodox Church on the issue of mentioning religious belonging on identity cards (see Yannis STAVRAKAKIS, “Religion and Populism in Contemporary Greece”, in Francisco PANIZZA (ed.), Populism and the Mirror of Democracy, Verso, London and New York, 2005, pp. 224-249).

[35] Christian SMITH, The Emergence of Liberation Theology: Radical Religion and Social-Movement Activism, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1991.

[36] Charles A. REILLY,  “Latin America’s Religious Populists…cit.”, pp. 42ff.

[37] See for instance the reaction of Archbishop Christodoulos of the Greek Orthodox Church in the religion – identity cards scandal of 2001: on the issue “only one factor exists, and this is the people, that cannot and should not be ignored” (italics in the original quotation in Yannis STAVRAKAKIS, “Religion and Populism…cit.”, p. 224).

[38]Which is why, common to religious-motivated Euroscepticism, the EU bureaucratic leadership is accused of no longer acting in the European (Christian) citizens’ interests (Jack HAYWARD, “The Populist Challenge to Élitist Democracy in Europe”, in Jack HAYWARD (ed.), Élitism, Populism and European Politics, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2004, p. 10).

[39] Yoshua J. YATES, “The Resurgence of Jihad and the Specter of Religious Populism”, SAIS Review of International Affairs, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2007, p. 127.

[40]As different from the acception R. WUTHNOW (op. cit.) had previously used in 1979.

[41] Fred HALLIDAY, “The Iranian Revolution and Religious Populism”, Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 36, No. 2, 1982, pp. 187-207.

[42] Charles A. REILLY,  “Latin America’s Religious Populists…cit.”, p. 42.

[43]See Andres OPPENHEIMER, Religious populism spreads in Latin America”, Miami Herald, Dec. 7, 2006 (at http://wwrn.org/articles/23620/?&place=south-america&section=church-state, accessed January 2014).

[44] Dani FILC, The Political Right in Israel…cit.

[45] Yves MÉNY and Yves SUREL (eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge..., p. 2.

[46] John M. BADERTSCHER et al., Religious Studies in Manitoba and Saskatchewan: A State-of-the-Art Review, Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion, Wilfried Laurier University Press, Toronto; Waterloo, ON, 1993, p. 52.

[47]Apud Richard W. SANTANA and Gregory ERICKSON, Religion and Popular Culture: Rescripting the Sacred, McFarland & Co, Jefferson, NC, 2008, p. 17.

[48] Paul HARVEY, Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities among Southern Baptists, 1865-1925, North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1997 (p. 91).

[49] Christopher B. CHAPP, Religious Rhetoric and American Politics…cit., p. 36.

[50] Charles TAYLOR, A Secular Age, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2007, p. 506. See for instance former president’s Eisenhower stated opinion that “[o]ur government makes no sense unless it is founded in a deeply religious faith – and I don’t care what it is” (apud Wuthnow, op. cit., p. 194). For such a post-Cold War public statement, see the one of Senator Bob Doyle in 1996 (in CHAPP; op. cit., p. 39).

[51]See George W. Bush’s second inaugural address of 2005 (at http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/20/politics/20BUSH-TEXT.html?pagewanted=3&_r=0, accessed Jan. 2014), or Barrack Obama’s second address (at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/21/inaugural-address-president-barack-obama, accessed Jan. 2014)

[52] Pippa NORRIS and Ronald INGLEHART, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004, p. 3.

[53] Mark CHAVES, “Secularization as Declining Religious Authority”, Social Forces, Vol. 72, No. 3, 1994, p. 749.

[54] Thomas LUCKMANN, The Invisible Religion: The Problem of Religion in Modern Society, Macmillan, New York, 1967; Peter L. BERGER, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion, Anchor Books, New York, 1967.

[55] Frank J. LECHNER, “Secularization”, in Hans J. HILLERBRAND (ed.), Encyclopedia of Protestantism (Vol. 4), Routledge, New York, 2003, 1701-1707. See, among innumerous such “prophecies of secularization”, C.J. Mills: “In due course, the sacred shall disappear altogether except, possibly, in the private realm” (The Sociological Imagination. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1959, pp. 32-33). 

[56]Bryan R. WILSON, Religion in Secular Society: A Sociological Comment, C.A. Watts, London, 1966, p. xiv, and Religion in Sociological Perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1982, p. 149.

[57] Steve BRUCE, God Is Dead…cit., p. 3.

[58] Some critics such as Jeffrey K. Hadden have even gone so far in this regard as to consider that there actually is no “secularization” theory, but rather “a hodgepodge of loosely employed ideas” (J.K. HADDEN, “Toward Desacralizing Secularization Theory”, Social Forces Vol. 65, No. 3, 1987, pp. 607, 598).

[59]Based on the summarization in Ionuţ APAHIDEANU, An Empirical Revisiting of the Secularization Debate at the Micro Level: Europe’s Heterodox Religiosity over the Last Two Decades”, EuroPolis, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2013, pp. 38-41.

[60] Bryan R. WILSON, “The Secularization Thesis: Criticism and Rebuttals,” in R. LAERMAN, B.R. WILSON and J. BILLIET (eds.), Secularization and Social Integration: Papers in Honor of Karel Dobbelaere, Leuven University Press, Leuven, 1998, p. 47.

[61]Steve BRUCE, Secularization: In Defense of an Unfashionable Theory, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. vi, 4, 6.

[62]Ionuţ APAHIDEANU, An Empirical Revisiting of the Secularization Debate…cit.”, pp. 37-38.

[63]E.g.the incompatibility of rationality and religion, or the supposed secularising effect of religious pluralism.

[64] E.g. the empirically not confirmed reference to the Middle Ages as a “golden age” of faith, the Euro- and Christ-centric particularism of the approach, or the confusions among levels of analysis and among dimensions of religiosity.

[65] Jean-Louis SCHLEGEL, “Revenir de la Sécularisation?”, Esprit, Vol. 113-114, No. 3, 1986, pp. 9-23.

[66] Regis DEBRAY, God: An Itinerary, Verso, London, 2004, p. 259.

[67]Hansjörg HEMMINGER, ed. Die Rückkehr der Zauberer. New Age. Eine Kritik, Rowohlt, Reinbeck bei Hamburg, 1987.

[68] John MICKLETHWAIT and Adrian WOOLDRIDGE, God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith is Changing the World, Allen Lane, London, 2009.

[69] Rodney STARK and Laurence R. IANNACCONE, “A Supply-side Reinterpretation of the ‘Secularization’ of Europe”, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 33, No. 3, 1994, pp. 230-252 (p. 231).

[70] Rodney STARK, “Secularization, R.I.P.”, Sociology of Religion, Vol. 60, No. 3, 1999, pp. 269, 270.

[71] Steve BRUCE, “What the Secularization Paradigm Really Says”, in Manuel FRANZMANN, Christel GÄRTNER, Nicole KÖCK (eds.), Religiosität in der säkularisierten Welt: Theoretische und empirische Beiträge zur Säkularisierungsdebatte in der Religionssoziologie, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden, 2006, p. 39.

[72]Ionuţ APAHIDEANU, An Empirical Revisiting of the Secularization Debate…cit.”, pp. 37ff.

[73] Mark CHAVES, “Secularization as Declining Religious Authority…cit.”, p. 749.

[74] Karel DOBBELAERE, “Toward an Integrated Perspective of the Processes Related to the Descriptive Concept of Secularization”, Sociology of Religion, Vol. 60, No. 3, 1999, pp. 229-247 (p. 239; italics in the original). Predictably enough, such a “revisionism” was promptly denounced by critics as both “insincere” and “historically false”, since “those who employ it revert to celebrating the demise of individual piety whenever they see a fact that seems to be supportive or whenever they believe they are speaking to an audience of fellow devotees” (STARK, op. cit., p. 252).

[75] Rodney STARK, “Secularization...cit.”, p. 252.

[76] Yves MÉNY and Yves SUREL (eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge…cit., p. 2.

[77] Simon BORNSCHIER, Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right: The New Cultural Conflict in Western Europe, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2010, p. 1.

[78] Lars RENSMANN, “The New Politics of Prejudice: Comparative Perspectives on Extreme Right Parties in European Democracies”, German Politics and Society Vol. 21, No. 4, 2003, p. 95.

[79] Craig CALHOUN, Mark JUERGENSMEYER and Jonathan VanANTWERPEN, “Introduction”, in  C. CALHOUN, M. JUERGENSMEYER and J. vanANTWERPEN (eds.), Rethinking Secularism, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011, p. 3.

[80] Jean-Paul WILLAIME, “Religion in Ultramodernity”, in James A. BECKFORD and John WALLISS (eds.), Theorising Religion. Classical and Contemporary Debates, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2006, pp. 77-89.

[81] Benjamin ARDITI, Politics on the Edges of Liberalism…cit., p. 36.

[82] Jack HAYWARD (ed.), Élitism, Populism and European Politics…cit., p. 10ff.; Ralf DAHRENDORF, “Mediocre Élites Elected by Mediocre Peoples”, in J. HAYWARD (ed.), Élitism, Populism…cit., pp. 1-9.

[83] Cas MUDDE, Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007, p. 19.

[84]For a noteworthy and relatively similar analytical approach of Islamophobic populism, see Farid HAFEZ, Islamophober Populismus: Moschee- und Minarettbauverbote Österreichischer Parlamentsparteien, VS Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2010, pp. 60-68.

[85] Cas MUDDE, Populist Radical Right…cit., p. 84, n. 10.

[86] Cas MUDDE and Cristobal ROVIRA KALTWASSER, “Populism and (Liberal) Democracy…cit.”, p. 17; Robert WUTHNOW, Experimentation in American Religion…cit., pp. 197-198.

[87] Benjamin ARDITI, Politics on the Edges of Liberalism…cit., p. 5.

[88] Not so much because, in the anecdotal phrasing attributed to Mark Twain, “there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”, but mainly, and seriously so, because I consider religious populism not a dichotomous variable (i.e. being or not religiously populist), but one of degree on a continuum (i.e. more or less religiously populist), so that a strict binary exclusion-inclusion of parties would be oversimplifying and heuristically deficient.

[89] Cas MUDDE, Populist Radical Right…cit., p. 55.

[90]The Guardian, Febr. 17, 2008 (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/feb/17/netherlands.islam, accessed, together with all links below, February 2014).

[91] See the party’s website at http://www.pvv.nl/.

[92] Katrin SCHMIDT, Populism and Euroscepticism in the Netherlands: Pim Fortuyn and the Dutch Nee-Campaign against the European Constitutional Treaty, GRIN Verlag, Noderderstadt, 2006.

[94] Sarah L. DE LANGE and Tjitske AKKERMAN, “Populist Parties in Belgium: A Case of Hegemonic Liberal Democracy?”, in C. MUDDE and C. ROVIRA KALTWASSER (eds.), Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat of Corrective for Democracy?, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2012, p. 35.

[95] Cas MUDDE, Populist Radical Right…cit., p. 84.

[100] Cas MUDDE, Populist Radical Right…cit., p. 85.

[102] Cas MUDDE, Populist Radical Right…cit., pp. 84, 85.

[103]Whose website speaks for itself (http://diefreiheit.org/home/).

[105] Simon BORNSCHIER, Cleavage Politics and the Populist Right…cit., p. 11.

[106]Party website at http://www.svp.ch/.

[107] Aristotle KALLIS, “Breaking Taboos and ‘Mainstreaming the Extreme’: The Debates on Restricting Islamic Symbols in Contemporary Europe”, in Ruth WODAK, Majid KHOSRAVINIK, and Brigitte MRAL (eds.) Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse, Bloomsburry Publishing, London and New York, 2013, pp. 55-70.

[108]Other than those already existing (i.e in Zürich, Geneva, Winterthur, and, since 2009, the one in Wangen bei Olten).

[109] See the press release of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (August 27, 2008) at http://www.ejpd.admin.ch/ejpd/en/home/dokumentation/mi/2008/2008-08-27.html.

[110] See the press release of the Federal Assembly (March 27, 2009) at http://www.parlament.ch/d/mm/2009/Seiten/mm-spk-s-2009-03-27.aspx.

[111]SwissInfo, July 8, 2008 (http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng//Specials/Islam_and_Switzerland/Minaret_vote/Voters_to_decide_on_controversial_minaret_ban.html?cid=668762).

[112]SwissInfo, Sept. 10, 2009 (http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news_digest/Catholic_bishops_oppose_minaret_ban.html?cid=1007632).

[114] Aristotle KALLIS, “Breaking Taboos…cit.” p. 62.

[115]Official results on the Federal Council’s website, at http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/pore/va/20091129/det547.html.

[116]Deutsche Welle, Nov. 30, 2009 (http://www.dw.de/european-politicians-react-to-swiss-minaret-ban/a-4946616-1).

[117]The Telegraph, Dec. 8, 2009 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/6761632/Nicolas-Sarkozy-defends-Swiss-minaret-ban.html).

[118]See note 116.

[120] Ioan STANOMIR, “Libertate, politică şi religie: câteva observaţii introductive”, in Camil Ungureanu (coord.), Religia în democraţie: O dilemă a modernităţii, Polirom, Iaşi, 2011, p. 401.

[121]ECHR website, Dahlab vs. Switzerland” (http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-22643#{"itemid":["001-22643"]})

[122] Camil UNGUREANU, “Introducere - Religia în spaţiul public european: dileme şi conflicte”, in C. Ungureanu (coord.), Religia în democraţie. O dilemă a modernităţii, Polirom, Iaşi, 2011, p. 8.

[123] Ahmet T. KURU, “Passive and Assertive Secularism: Historical Conditions, Ideological Struggles, and State Policies towards Religion”, World Politics, Vol. 59, 2007, p. 568; UNGUREANU, op. cit., p. 9.

[125] Ioannis N. GRIGORIADIS, “Turkey’s Accession to the European Union: Debating the Most Difficult Enlargement Ever”, SAIS Review of International Affairs, Vol. 26, No. 1, 2006, pp. 147-160.

[129] See note 126. In the same sense, Turkish newspaper Sabah had expressed already in 1997 the deep belief of many Turkish citizens that “Christian-Democrats were trying to isolate Turkey because of religious biases” (http://www.fas.org/man/nato/national/97031401rmr.htm).

[131] Joseph RATZINGER, “Europa. Bazele ei spirituale, astăzi, mâine”, in Camil Ungureanu (coord.), Religia în democraţie: O dilemă a modernităţii, Polirom, Iaşi, [2004] 2011, p. 199ff.

[133] N.J. DEMERATH, III., “Secularization and Sacralization Deconstructed and Reconstructed”, in James A. BECKFORD and N.J. DEMERATH III. (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of the Sociology of Religion, Sage Publications, London, 2007, p. 57.

[134] Peter L. BERGER, (ed.) The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 1999.

[135] N.J. DEMERATH, III., “Secularization and Sacralization…cit.”, p. 66.

[136] José CASANOVA, Public Religions in the Modern World, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1994.