Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Will Turkey pull through?

I mean: will it manage to build on some of the steps along the democratic path it's taken?  Or will it slip back to Islamism?
The New York Times is optimistic.  The constitution, it says:
"...should be replaced by a fully democratic charter. It must reinforce human rights, including free speech, a free press and equal rights for women and ethnic minorities and represent the full range of the country’s increasingly pluralistic society."
And Stephen Kinzer writing on the same day (15 June) concludes his article (which I can't find at the moment):
"Turkey is poised to become one of the most successful countries of the 21st century, a model of Muslim democracy and a pwerful force for regional peace.  Whether it will fulfill its potential depends largely on how Erdogan handles the mandate he has just won."
Erdogan has let slip his Islamist leanings. He has quoted the famous Turkish poem:
"The minarets are our bayonets; the domes our helmets; the mosques our barracks and the faithful our army".
He has also railed against the split some in the west make between moderate and "extremist" or "radical" Islam.  "Islam is Islam" he says.[*]
Indeed.  And there's the problem.
My prediction is that the arc tending to Islamism will win out.  I hope I'm wrong.  But I think that's wishful thinking.
[*]Speaking at Kanal D TV’s Arena program, PM Erdogan commented on the term “moderate Islam”, often used in the West to describe AKP and said, ‘These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”

Source: MilliyetTurkey, August 21, 2007 via Memri