Thursday, August 30, 2007

Turkey, Islam, and the EU

Abdullah Gul has been sworn in as Turkey’s president after the vote in parliament, becoming the first former Islamist to win the post in modern history. The presidency is traditionally seen as a bastion of the secular state established by modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in 1923. The president is chief of the armed forces, with influence over senior appointments - and in the powerful military establishment. Hitherto, Islamists and hijab-wearing wives have not been tolerated.

President Gul said: “As long as I am in office, I will embrace all our citizens without any bias. The Turkish Republic is a democratic, secular, social (state), governed by the rule of law. I will always be determined and resolved to advocate, without discrimination, each of these principles and to further strengthen them at every opportunity… Secularism - one of the main principles of our republic - is a precondition for social peace as much as it is a liberating model for different lifestyles.”

Cranmer hopes that he reminds his recently re-elected prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of these values, for in 1999 he said: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers..."

All this as it appears that Turkey path to the European Union is being made straight. Despite fundamentally irreconcilable differences between Christian and Islamic values, President Sarkozy has softened his stance, and, despite grave warnings, so has Pope Benedict XVI. Is it all simply part of one profoundly dangerous experiment to try to forge a Euro-Islam?

Is it down to Edward Leigh MP to save Europa from herself?


Anonymous Voyager said...

Turkey has a Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı or Presidency of Religious Affairs with specified goal of to execute the works concerning the beliefs, worship, and ethics of Islam, enlighten the public about their religion, and administer the sacred worshipping places with a budget of $900,000,000.

Its German Branch Diyanet Işleri Türk-Islam Birliği (DITIB) is building mega-mosques in Cologne and Berlin


Cologne (Ex-Muslims)

Religious pluralism was widely viewed as a threat to Islam and to "national unity." Nationalist sentiments sometimes contained anti-Christian or anti-Semitic overtones. Some in the Jewish community reported growing feelings of insecurity in the wake of the 2003 attacks in Istanbul, and certain media outlets promoted anti-Semitic propaganda, including allegations that the Jewish community aided and even orchestrated the Kurdish nationalist movement.

In January 2006, five assailants severely beat Protestant church leader Kamil Kiroglu in Adana. One attacker wielded a knife and threatened to kill Kiroglu unless he renounced Christianity.

In February 2006, an assailant shot and killed Catholic priest Andrea Santaro in a church in Trabzon. A witness said the gunman shouted "God is great" as he shot Santaro from behind. A sixteen-year-old was charged in the case; his trial was ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The suspect reportedly told police he was angry about the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that had been published in a Danish newspaper. Prime Minister Erdogan and other government officials condemned the killing.

Also in February, a group of young men beat and threatened to kill a Catholic friar in Izmir. The attackers shouted anti-Christian slogans and said they wanted to "clean Turkey of non-Muslims."

In March 2006, an assailant entered a Catholic church in Mersin, threatening church members with a knife and shouting anti-Christian statements. Police arrived at the scene and arrested the assailant.

In April 2006, a group of young men entered the Syriac compound in Diyarbakir and shouted threats at church members. Police refused to send patrols to the neighborhood of the church until a few days later, when the church's Easter ceremonies were held.

In May 2006, Greek Orthodox Christians held a mass at a historical church in Bergama. A group of nationalist and leftist protestors attempted to disrupt the mass with loud slogans and music. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who attended the mass, thanked local officials for authorizing the event.

Members of the Syriac community said local villagers, particularly village guards, often occupied the homes of Syriacs who fled the country, refusing to leave when Syriacs attempted to return. The village guards are a civil defense force of approximately 57,000, mostly in the southeast. They were reputed to be the least disciplined of the security forces.

According to the Syriac community, more than fifty unoccupied Syriac homes have been destroyed in the village of Bardakci, Mardin province, since 2000. The majority of the village's Syriac residents fled the region in the mid-1980s. One of the village's two Syriac churches was converted into a mosque without consulting the Syriac community. Some returning Syriacs claimed that government authorities reclassified properties while the Syriacs were out of the country in ways that caused them to lose some of their lands.

Trial proceedings continued in the appeal of Kerim Akbas, who was convicted in 2004 for television broadcasts inciting violence against Christians.


Before visiting Turkey, the Pope ordered a broad report on Turkey from the premiership that he heads. The report prepared by the Vatican’s official historian, Giovanni Sale, is still on the Pope’s desk. The title of the report is, “Christians in the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey.”

Coming to the essential matters of the report prepared from the Vatican archives:

“There is no secularism in Turkey like that found in democratic and liberal European countries. Just as there is no freedom of religion in Turkey, religion has been completely expelled from the public sphere. Secularism has been imposed by the state. Turkey is described as a secular republic, but actually relations between politics and the state are close enough to get mixed up. Trying to imitate the French model of laicism, Turkish secularism has nothing to do with European enlightenment and liberal doctrines. While secularizing Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk did not separate religious and political powers as in Europe. He only expelled religion from the public realm and put religious affairs under the control of the government. The Ministry of Religion has a greater budget than the Ministry of Industry.”

30 August 2007 at 07:14  
Anonymous the last toryboy said...

I must confess that regarding Cyprus I'm on the Turks side of that argument.

Cyprus when it was handed over to the British was Turkish for centuries with a majority Turk population, until Britain allowed unrestricted Greek immigration to the point that the Greek vote became powerful at the ballot box.

At this time Greece itself was run by a pretty much nakedly fascist regime, and did its bit to encourage the equally nakedly fascist EOKA to shoot as many Turks as they could until Turkey had enough.

If you read any of the accounts written by British soldiers stationed in Cyprus at the time who were tasked with keeping EOKA from driving the Turks into the sea its pretty clear who the innocent and the aggrieved were.

I consider Cyprus to be a salutary lesson in what happens in the absence of border controls and with unrestricted immigration. Modern Israel is another.

France and Holland are shaping up to go through this next...

30 August 2007 at 14:19  
Anonymous Fred said...

When Gul and Erdogan start wearing beards (as Galloway now does!), then it is time to start being petrified.

30 August 2007 at 15:02  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

Come into our parlour, said the flies to the spider.

30 August 2007 at 18:19  
Anonymous najistani said...

Islamic expert Bill Warner appears to believe that the Turkish 'solution' is a highly unstable equilibrium:

"Islam has two sets of ethics. One set is for Muslims and the other set is for kafirs; this is dualistic ethics. A Muslim should not harm another Muslim, but the kafir can be robbed, killed, or cheated to advance Islam. Islamic political dualism is hidden by religion. The "good" verses of the Meccan Koran cover the verses of jihad in the Medinan Koran. Thus religious Islam shields political Islam from examination.

Some Muslims point to Turkey and claim that Islam can have a modern secular government. But authentic Islam and authentic secularism are contradictions. Secularism is made possible only on a foundation of a separation of religion and the state, freedom of conscience, and a universal ethical and legal system. But Muhammad integrated government and religion. Islam by definition means total submission to the will of Allah. And the dualistic logic of the Koran designates one set of ethics and laws for kafirs and another set for believers. Therefore, political Islam precludes secularism"


30 August 2007 at 20:32  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Therefore, political Islam precludes secularism"

Would anyone wants to have a Communist Government if it promised to respect private property ?

Or would anyone give the Nazis a second chance if they called themselves New Reformed Nazis ?

So why would anyone want to trust an Absolutist Creed like Mohammedan Islam to be any better for civil rights and intellectual freedom than Marxism-Leninism ?

Where are the great Symphony Orchestras of the Islamic world ? The great Art Galleries ? The vibrant Theatre and Ballets and Opera ?

30 August 2007 at 21:06  
Anonymous najistani said...

Voyager said...
"Where are the great Symphony Orchestras of the Islamic world ? The great Art Galleries ? The vibrant Theatre and Ballets and Opera ?"

Good question, here's an attempt at an answer:

"Why are Muslims among the worst performing groups (nations, societies, etc) anywhere on the planet? Name any area of achievement, any field of human endeavour—patents filed, literacy, quality of life, degree of civil or political freedoms, transparency, world-class universities, and so on. In every case, the nations of Islam are at or near the bottom in every category, and only barely beat sub-Saharan Africa in overall performance.

How has this dreadful state of affairs come to pass?
The answer is simple—Muslims are intellectually paralyzed by their own philosophy.

In matters of the intellect, Muslims are a miserable failure. It isn’t because their genes are so different from everybody else’s. It’s because their philosophy (a.k.a. Islam) has sucked their minds dry from infancy onwards. In this respect, it is the best in human history, as no other philosophy has been so successful at institutionalizing failure among its followers. This onerous process begins at birth, when it is the tradition in many Islamic countries for the father to recite the Shahada (the Muslim declaration of belief) in the newborn’s ear. It’s all downhill from there....

continued at:

30 August 2007 at 21:27  
Anonymous oiznop said...

We cannot compromise our ideals just so Turkey can be a role model in the Middle East, says Mehmet Karli

Friday August 31, 2007
The Guardian

Your leader (Islam and democracy, August 22) is correct to state that a military intervention to defend secularism in Turkey would be "bad for the military itself, ... bad for Turkey and, indeed, bad for the rest of the Muslim world". Moreover, it should not be forgotten that it was the Turkish army that prepared the fertile ground for the development of political Islam. The military coup of 1980 cleared the way for political Islamists by crushing established political parties and by propagating an authoritarian ideology called the Turkish-Islamic synthesis, a poisonous mix of nationalism and Islamism.

However, I find your conclusion troubling. Although your leader states that some policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) are worrying "from a European liberal perspective", it nevertheless seems to condone them because "in parts of the Middle East [Turkey] is often seen as a model". This implies an Orientalist mindset, an assumption that a Muslim society cannot be as liberal as a European one. Why should we lower the bar? Is it wise to dismiss secular Turks' criticisms of the illiberal policies of the AKP so that it can be presented as a role model elsewhere in the Middle East?
It is indeed true that "the Turkish brand of secularism has its unattractive side too", being associated with "politics that at times can be far from progressive". But it would be wrong to think that all secular Turks want an army intervention. Many are determined to protect not only secularism but also democracy. As your leader suggests, the danger in Turkey is not the establishment of an Islamic state. Neither the history nor the social structure of Turkey would allow this. The real danger is the creeping Islamisation of social life, and a rise in societal conservatism which puts pressure on secular Turks. While the AKP does not impose any laws towards the establishment of an Islamic state, it fuels social conservatism through political and economic incentives. Municipalities controlled by the AKP use social policies to promote conservatism, and in the central administration a conservative lifestyle becomes necessary for those who wish to be promoted to key positions.

You say Abdullah Gul, "in anticipation of becoming president ... has made some reassuring noises". Not all leading figures in the AKP have been so reassuring. After the secular Turkish columnist Bekir Coskun recently wrote that he would not accept Gul as his president (reminiscent of "not my president" protests against George Bush), Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, urged him to give up his Turkish nationality and leave the country. Many secular Turks believed that this comment was addressed not only to Coskun but to all of them.

Many words and deeds of the AKP are indeed worrying from a European liberal perspective. Some in the west may condone them in line with the role they have tailored for Turkey: a role model for the Middle East. But some of us in Turkey still think that we should and can not settle for anything less than a truly liberal society - liberal in the European sense of the word. If that prevents us from being a role model to other Muslim societies in the Middle East, so be it.

31 August 2007 at 07:15  
Anonymous najistani said...

Turkey's PM Erdogan: The term "moderate Islam" is ugly and offensive -- Islam is Islam.

And so in two sentences Erdogan dismisses the concept on which the Western world has placed its hopes of survival and peace.

Islam is Islam. Will this be discussed in the Western media? Will American and European analysts publicly take up the question of whether or not Erdogan is right, and what the implications might be if he is? Or will they ignore this and continue to assume in all their analyses that the opposite is true, and to dismiss as "ideologues" or "Islamophobes" those who point out that influential Muslims like Erdogan are saying things like this?

2 September 2007 at 14:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Islamification Of Europe.

So, having been sold out we are to be under the dual Jack boot of an EU dictatorship and Sharia Law..

17 September 2007 at 01:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Support our troops, honour the cobenant...

Now get two(or more) more friends, collegues or family members to sign asking them each in turn to get two more to sign...within a month we could have 30 Million supporting out Troops...
2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256 512 1024........
See how it works....So pass on this worthy link to two or more People asking them to do the same...And Snowball this worthy cause..

17 September 2007 at 01:32  

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