Saturday, May 5, 2007

Trouble in Turkey

While most of the Western media has been focused on one political battle on the other side of the Atlantic - that being France's - another is shaping up to be much more interesting and with far greater implications.

In Turkey, a power struggle has been gaining strength after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to install fellow islamist Abdullah Gul as the country's President. To be fair, in Turkey, government islamists are kind of islamist-light, not yet the virulent strain of murderous islam found in, for instance, the halls of power in neighbouring Iran. However, these things have a habit of gaining strength and if islamists - even less strident ones - beging occupying the major seats of government, it will only lead to further pressures to become more conservative until the country enters a death spiral of talibanization.

Turkey is an interesting country - somewhat westernized and secular, somewhat islamic and backwards. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who brought modern Turkey into being, was an ardent opponent of islamic culture and forced much of it out of the nation. He is still revered today by millions of Turks, even though the nation is without question Muslim. And, among those who revere him the most are members of the military who basically threatened to stage a coup if Erdogan got his way and Gul was installed.

To get an understanding of just how deep this rift runs, a lot of the controversy has centred on Gul's wife because she wears a headscarf and sometimes a veil. My guess is it would be a non-issue in non-Muslim democracies, including Canada, if someone running for office had a spouse who wore a head covering (be they Muslim, Jewish or of another faith where orthodox or semi-orthodox adherents wear coverings). Here, for instance, Sikhs often run for office, often win and many of them wear turbans. In Turkey, the idea was enough to bring people out in the streets demonstrating.

That is, of course, an indicator of just how wary many Turks are of islamist movements. They can look at Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and other such nations, some of which they border, and see how backwards they are compared to their own country which has enjoyed rapid progress, a growing economy and decent relationships with western nations up to and including Israel. They are smart enough to not want to go back to a barbaric way of governance.

One problem the secular Turks face is the waffling from Europe about whether it can join the EU. The Europeans have been sending mixed signals on this for years, demanding certain concessions from Turkey that have nothing to do with EU membership such as admitting the genocide of Armenians in the earlier parts of the 20th century.

True, there was such a genocide and the Turks refuse to call it that, but it seems rather counterproductive to perhaps send that nation, its 70 million inhabitants and its second-largest standing army in the western world, into the arms of islamists over the issue (though, Armenians might well see it differently, to be sure).

European nations happily slaughtered one another's citizens in one war after another for centuries and I don't know if any others were asked to admit to it before joining the EU. What Europe is really afraid of is admitting 70 million Muslims into its membership - unless, those 70 million come from a country that used to be called France, I suppose - and so it has continuously come up with obstacles to prevent membership while trying to cultivate Turkey's cooperation and friendship.

Turkey, for better or worse, is a key NATO ally and a reasonably dependable one. It is also a bridge between the western world and the islamic one that could play an important role in the future of relationships between the two. Better that we keep them on our side then send them reeling to the other. The Turkish people and military seem to realize that, let's hope our governments do, too.

4 comments:

BEAJ said...

In a survey of Western nations, they included Turkey, Turkey ranked 34th of 34 when it came to acceptance of evolution. The US ranked 33rd.
I don't think Canada was in the survey, either was Israel.

Bar Kochba said...

BTW, despite the US's refusal to accept the ridiculous and unscientific theory of evolution, it has the best scientists, most development, best universities... Odd, eh?
Turkey is an Islamic country and was the seat for many hundreds of years of the caliphate than OBL and other jihadists are so trying to recreate. Its admission to the EU would only hasten the beginning of the long Eurabian Night.
Maybe, as a sign of Islamic good-will, the Hagia Sophia, one of the greatest Orthodox Churches of all times that was desecrated by the Ottomans and turned into a mosque, should be returned to the Church. Today, it's just being used as a museum anyways. That wouldn't happen though because Orthodox people suffer extreme discrimination. Just the other day, a Turkish official said that missionaries are worse than any terrorist groups. The Hagia Sophia will never be returned because that contradicts the Islamic doctrines that Islam 'dominates and is not dominated'.

southfield_2001 said...

Well, beaj, I find it hard to believe Canada wouldn't have been included in that survey. I wonder what they based inclusion on. We're certainly a western nation and one on par in significance with a number of others.
Anyway, as you know, I believe strongly in evolution theory but I don't assess things based on it with quite the zeal that you do :-)

And, Bar Kochba, Turkey is a Muslim country but I'd hesitate at the moment to call it an islamic country, which is kind of what my post was about. I view Muslim as a religion while "islamist" is an ideology usually steeped in death, destruction and ignorance.
It was for many hundreds of years the seat of the caliphate but that's what Ataturk changed and what people there seem to be still reasonably in favour of keeping that way.
I disagree that allowing Turkey in the EU would hasten the long Eurabian night, the Europeans have only their own moronic immigration policies, nanny state stupidity and incredible kow-towing to political correctness and arab bullshit to blame for that.
As for the Orthodox churches, etc., not many European countries have, for instance, replaced the synagogues they happily allowed the nazis to destroy during WWII, so the guilt runs pretty deep in all facets of European history, in my opinion, although I agree with you on the idea that it would be the right thing to do.

BEAJ said...

Bar, over 99% of American scientists know evolution is fact and the theory of evolution is total science. The only "scientists" who don't buy into evolution are those not in biology, but mostly in other fields, and between all of the nay sayers, they have yet to come up with any peer reviewed finding or study that contradicts evolution theory. They have no science going for them just a need to believe that man is more special than what we are because God would NEVER have thrown the evolution curve ball. Reality deniers!

However, 45% of Americans believe in Young Earth Creation, which is embarrassing.

The reason America has great schools is because of separation of church and state.