Yazan and I started having a very interesting discussion when I posted a comment about Ataturk and secularism in Turkey. I thought I would repost some parts of the discussion as a separate post to see what other people think on this matter. What we both eventually ended up discussing was how secular and non-secular (in this case Islamic) forms of government are perceived by different people with different backgrounds. Anyhow, have a look at the extracts and make your own minds up. You can read the comments here, the make quite an interesting read. Below is my last response to Yazan which I hope we can use as a start point here:
Sorry I forgot to reply to your last comment. The question you've posed to me isn't one I've set out to answer in post anyway. I'm not saying that any of those countries you mention are shining examples of non-secular governments. In fact, those governments guarantee peoples rights not because they have chosen to be secular, but, I suspect, for other reasons completely.If I understand you correctly, I think your main fear of non-secular forms of government is that the rights of minorities would be in danger. However, we both know that there are plenty of secular governments in the world which discriminate against minorities both in the present and the past. Turkey, Italy, Spain, France, China. A variety of levels of freedom yet the same problem it would seem. So, theoretically, it could be possible for a country with a non-secular government to also have similar levels of freedoms, yet rather than a materialist capitalist paradigm informing it's laws and policies, it can still be, using your example, Islamic.Now the question is, why do we view Islamic conceptions of law, justice and government as so alien, so frightening, when they are clearly a part of us and our own political and social context? At the same time, we consider albeit admirable European ideas of 'enlightenment' as "universal" and devour them greedily whilst our very own values are discarded without so much as the benefit of the doubt.All I'm asking for is some imagination, using a different starting point for our questions to solve our problems.