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Monday, April 30, 2007

Is there still hope? Turks protest Islamic led government

The Turks are protesting, in huge numbers, again:

AP: Benjamin Harvey

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Some 700,000 Turks waving the red national flag flooded central Istanbul on Sunday to demand the resignation of the government, saying the Islamic roots of Turkey's leaders threatened to destroy the country's modern foundations.

Interesting to note that secularism was introduced to Turkey after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s (after WW I), when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (founder and 1st President of Turkey) imposed sweeping reforms in an effort to modernize his country. Islamic courts were closed, the office of the Caliphate was abolished along with Islamic Law, Islamic dress was banned, women's rights were established, a Turkish alphabet replaced the Arabic one, amongst other changes.

What I find even more interesting is that the Turks, the fathers of Islamic imperialism (in the guise of the Ottoman Empire), were the first to discard that whole mind-set in favour of modernizing their country and, therefore, becoming more westernized. They didn't abolish their religion, just the dark-age trappings. So, understandably, the secular Turks don't want to take a giant step backwards in history. "They want to drag Turkey to the dark ages," said 63-year-old Ahmet Yurdakul, a retired government employee who attended the protest." The people are adamant about separation of mosque and state, and retaining the secular laws that Ataturk established.

More than doubling a similar protest 2 weeks ago in Ankara, it looks like there might be some hope after all, depending upon the outcome of these protests. If Islamic countries like Turkey can somehow manage to survive and thrive as secular entities, then perhaps other middle-eastern countries will follow suit.

I wish them luck!

7 comments:

WomanHonorThyself said...

great post Incognito!..but I'm still too cynical..lol..thanks for visiting my humble abode..please come again!

Blazing Cat Fur said...

Hmm it is a good sign, haven't checked but wasn't Turkey denied entry into the EU recently or is this matter still up for grabs?

Incognito said...

Thank YOU, WomanHonorThyself. There is always hope, but I tend to agree with you. And I certainly will.

BCF, I think it is still an ongoing process, but I could be wrong. Still too many issues that are impeding the process.. including human rights issues, but who knows. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Papa J said...

It is reassuring that there is this group of protestors. But why do they have to protest? Because there are radical elements in their government and the radical elements are gaining ground.

Kind of makes you wonder why no one is protesting against Mr. Chavez in Venezuela. Just rolling over and mumbling, "Here, Mr. Pres., take my rights away."

Incognito said...

Exactly, PAPA J. The conservative Islamist majority won by only 30 something %. It is great they are protesting, but I doubt it will have any effect.

Same with Venezuela. They do have protests, but they do nothing. There are enough over there who foolishly think that Chavez is God and is going to make their lives better. And they might get some help, but at what cost?

lizze said...

I skimmed through a BBC news story about this (too much distraction at the moment) and I believe the army is backing the secularist movement and they do not have to have a Muslim as The Foreign Minister. They have made coups on similar issue 3 times before in the last 50 years.

I don't want to have a Turkish Muslim state and then they would get in the EU - that would be a disaster. But a part of me is struggling with the army dictating what an elected government should do - even if it is agreeing with my stance. Wired!

Incognito said...

They are, LIZZE, apparently the army is secularist as well, and that scares me as well, having the army dicatate.. but losing another secular Middle Eastern country is even scarier..