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>Turkey’s Islamic revolution by stealth

>The Turkish Daily News is certainly an interesting place to find opinions of people living in the world’s most modern Muslim country. Its status as a secular country is a source of pride to its inhabitants who jealously guard the freedoms that come from the separation of mosque and state.

Readers may be aware that there have been some political rumblings within the country with the rise of fundamentalist elements in the government. Fortunately for Turkey, its courts are prepared to take action against those who are working against the country’s secular constitution.

From Burak Bekdil comes Democratic jihad

I would bet that in the unwanted event of an ‘unpopular coup’ the ‘nation’s will’ would probably show up in the form of 70 percent support for that coup if in two years’ time a coup constitution is put to referendum

Necmettin Erbakan, former prime minister, the guru of political Islam in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s one-time heroic mentor and the man with a prison sentence for siphoning off his party’s money, once said that the Islamic revolution in Turkey would crop up sooner or later “with or without blood.” His young and talented apprentice, Mr. Erdoğan, took the wiser option, “without blood,” the day he deserted his master’s academy.These days the deserter is facing the same judicial threat his master faced several times during his long political career. Can this be explained by a “simple twist of fate?” Not really. Half a dozen times is too big a number for “coincidence.” The fact is, Mssrs Erbakan and Erdoğan are politicians with the same goals but different means to reach these goals.

No, not shariah:

What are these common goals? Shariah? No, both Mr. Erbakan and Mr. Erdoğan would only be viewed as “infidels” by genuine pro-Shariah fanatics. Their ideological color is too “light green” for the “shiny green” Shariah camp. For one thing, it would be terribly unfair to fabricate a connection between the ideological wars of Mr. Erbakan and Mr. Erdoğan and violence. Neither the master nor the former apprentice is a Jihadist. They merely wish to Islamize their country “without resorting to violence” and preferably by all possible democratic means which is fine. So where, really, is the problem?Are they really crashing into a despotic wall each time they make progress with their end goal because their secular opponents are too despotic? Maybe. If so, why are their secular opponents so incurably despotic when it comes to the “Islamization” of Turkey? Why can they not tolerate a “perfectly democratic will of the nation?” Why are they so badly allergic to any degree of socio-political Islamization? Is it because these visible and invisible men hate their country, hate Islam, hate anything with a religious connotation, hate anything that goes beyond the Kemalist dogma? Can they be secret enemies of the country they say they love? Or are they just a bunch of disillusioned elites whose percentage in what makes “our great nation” is exponentially diminishing? Are they traitors?

Unfortunately, a realistic answer to any of those questions does not exist. Even worse, opposite answers do exist, depending on the ideology of the person who might volunteer to answer them. Worst, the answer to each of the question is either a “yes” or a “no,” again, depending on the chosen ideology. Too bad, everyone is being forced into a “yes” or “no” none of which is probably the right answer. At the opposite camp of this dangerous polarization, different questions can be asked, but the answers would probably be the same: a “yes” or a “no.” Who are Mr. Erdoğan and his men? Islamists? Former Islamists? Islamists with a hidden agenda? Mild Islamists? Muslim democrats? Neo-libertarians? Liberal Muslims? Champions of democracy and free speech? Champions of democracy and free speech only when democracy and free speech would suit their ideology? Jihadists? Disguised Jihadists? “Without blood” Jihadists? A bizarre –but pragmatic—bunch of pro-western and at the same time pro-Islam politicians? Koranic dogmatists? Part-time Koranic dogmatists? Traitors? Again, anyone can give his/her choice of answers to those questions. Too bad, again, we would either get a “yes” or a “no” depending on the dogmatic belief of the person who answers.Probably no one in either camp is a traitor. Probably not all secular Turks are Islam-hating despots. Probably not all pious Muslims in Mr Erdoğan’s entourage are Jihadists, disguised or otherwise. Probably some in the secular camp are more liberal than their opponents; and vice versa. There are probably fake, part-time liberals in both camps. There are probably fascists in both camps too.

There are probably Kemalist dogmatists like there are Koranic dogmatists. There are probably Kemalist hypocrites like there are Koranic hypocrites. All that, however, does not change the fact that there is a war between the ones who want to “Islamize” Turkey through overt and covert means and the ones who want to block this goal through overt and covert means. The chosen weaponry in this war changes from time to time, ranging from democracy to judiciary and, as a last resort, to tanks on the streets of Ankara which, in practice, means the “nation’s democratic choice” is not always a perfect shield. Of course, the “nation’s will” is a powerful ammunition for its possessor. But not sufficient to win the war, especially when the other camp possesses the ultimate weaponry. This brings us to the dangerous concept of the “nation’s will.” I have previously cited numerous examples to illustrate that “nation’s will” cannot always guarantee democracy or good governance.

A deadlock situation:

I would bet, by the way, that in the unwanted event of an “unpopular coup” the “nation’s will” would probably show up in the form of 70 percent support for that coup if in two years’ time a coup constitution is put to referendum (the “nation” had given a 92 percent seal of approval to the 1980 coup and its constitution). That is one good reason why Mr. Erdoğan wisely refrains from putting to national vote issues like, say, a permanent invasion of northern Iraq, relations with the United States or the execution of Abdullah Öcalan. This is a deadlock situation. Mr. Erdoğan and his men will no doubt use all possible democratic means to advance their political agenda which clearly is an Islamization of Turkey. Similarly, the opponents of that political agenda will use every tactic to block it, democratic or otherwise. Too sad, this, like the war in the Southeast, is a war with no winners. Battles can be won or lost, but this is a losing war for all.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Middle East
  1. April 5, 2008 at 4:55 am

    >I think the paradigm that was applied to Communism, also works for Islamist government-once the bear gets his nose in the door, he’s coming in whether you like it or not. Unfortunately, this probably means that just like Iran-which was fairly western in behavior prior to the fall of the Peacock Throne-it won’t be the Islamic moderates that take to the streets and whip the masses into a frenzy. It will be the dogmatic zealots who preach Islam at all costs and seek sharia law even in countries where they are not the majority population. Imagine if the UK demanded that Finland give allegiance to British law just because there were former British citizens in residence. Yet that is what many are seeking and this is not a religious quest for power, instead it is a political quest. And there is a very large difference between the faith of Islam and the Politics of Islam.

  2. April 5, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    >Quite right, Ellen. That’s what happens when a country voluntarily gives up its values.

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