Thursday, May 03, 2007

Military sharpens debate in Turkey

CSMonitor reported Turning part of Istanbul into a sea of red with Turkish flags yesterday, hundreds of thousands of secular Turks protested the possible election of a pro-Islamic president.
If a nation full of Muslims is so violently against being ruled by a Fundamentalist Muslim, then doesn't that tell you something about Islam. Who would know this better than them?
The massive turnout came after vocal warnings from Turkey's most secular institutions – the Army and presidency – that parliamentary approval of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as head of state would undermine the staunchly secular nation forged by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923.
While a very large majority of the Turkish population are muslims, they’re pro-Western muslims and don’t want to fall under a Fundamentalist Islamic yoke the way they see Iran has. Turkey has had a strongly secular government since it was created by Ataturk in 1923.
The political clash between secularists and Islamists has become critical, analysts say, and taps into one of the deepest faultlines of modern Turkish society. The entrance of the military, which ousted an elected Islamic government a decade ago and mounted three coups in decades before that, brought condemnation from the European Union and has intensified debate about having all strategic civilian arms of government under a pro-Islamic party.
If Gul becomes President I wonder if the Turkish military will mount another coup.
"Today is really a defining moment in Turkey," says Nilufer Narli, an expert on political Islam at Bahcehir University. "There is a polarization, a secular-Islamist conflict, but today it is sharper."

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