I wrote an analysis in August 2003 interpreting actions by the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as "throwing down the gauntlet" to the military over the future of the country, whether Islamist or secular. Things have moved slowly since then but the government today pushed through parliament an education bill that could prompt a showdown. The bill eases the way for graduates of imam hatip high schools to study secular subjects at Turkish universities (existing legislation has them entering only the theology departments). The legislation prompted strong denunciations from the opposition party, which walked in protest out before voting began. More importantly, the military leadership publicly criticized this bill, marking the first time it has spoken out on an issue not directly related to military matters since Erdoğan's party took office power 17 months ago. (May 13, 2004)
May 28, 2004 update: As expected, Turkey's President Ahmet Necdet Sezer vetoed the education bill. "Allowing graduates of religious schools to benefit from the same university education rights as graduates of general high schools does not comply with ... the principles of secularism," he observed, laying down the gauntlet.
June 1, 2004 update: Prime Minister Erdoğan chose not to take up the gauntlet. Instead, he announced that Turkey has other pressing business, indicating that he would not try to override the president's veto despite his party's large parliamentary majority.
June 6, 2004 update: Coming out of left field, the New York Times inexplicably editorializes in favor of the education bill, calling it a "disappointment" that Sezer vetoed this law and asserting that doing so amounts to a "setback to religious freedom and equal opportunity in Turkey, preconditions for a flourishing democracy."