Sunday, April 29, 2007

Turkey in the Crossroads or in the crosshairs?

Turkey in the Crossroads or crosshairs: A model for the middle east to follow or a set-up for additional future middle east crisis?
I decided to take a break from my concerns for America and Iraq and focus on Turkey. After reading yesterday of the growing confrontation between Turkey's Governing Islamic party and the secular Turkish military I became very concerned for Turkey's future knowing where it sits in the middle east.
I was impressed with the fact that the military was willing to go against the wishes of the Islamist Government. I was particularly impressed to see the Turkish people coming out in defense of secularism. I heard estimates of 10s of thousands, 700 thousand and 1 million protestors. One account had 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.
Knowing that Turkey as we speak is attempting to mediate between two Islamic Nations, Afghanistan and Pakistan It gave me cause for more concern but there is more.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf arrived Sunday in Ankara for a crisis summit mediated by Turkey. The two-day talks aim to ease relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Karzai and Musharraf have accused each other of being responsible for the resurgence of the Taliban. Three way talks will follow Monday.
Knowing the secular history in Turkey and the Islamist desire to see it ended I have more concern.
In the 1920s, with the Ottoman Empire in ruins, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk imposed Western laws, replaced Arabic script with the Latin alphabet, banned Islamic dress and granted women the right to vote.
The ruling party, however, has supported religious schools and tried to lift the ban on Islamic head scarves in public offices and schools. Secularists are also uncomfortable with the idea of Gul's wife, Hayrunisa, being in the presidential palace because she wears the traditional Muslim head scarf.
''We don't want a covered woman in Ataturk's presidential palace,'' said Ayse Bari, a 67-year-old housewife. ''We want civilized, modern people there.''
With the Religious fervor having been awoken in my mind largley by Bush's attack on Iraq and intrusion into middle east politics wherever he can and the ever growing call for a return to Islamic values in the middle east and in the entire Islamic world I find it spectacular that Turkey believes it can go its own way and be allowed to hopefully become a member of the EU.
What do the rest of you think about the future of Turkey and their secularity?

James Joiner
Gardner, Ma

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