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Infrastructure for freedom of thought

Reader comment on item: Is Turkey in Europe?
in response to reader comment: Historically Politically Economically Geographically Culturally Strategically and by Civilization

Submitted by Prashant (United States), Aug 4, 2013 at 21:21

Dear Dr Pipes,

Servet Sevik's letter to your forum prompted me to write about a thought that I have recently entertained. Servet tried hard to prove that Turkey is more European than anyone else. Servet's presentation failed to convince you and it is unlikely that it will convince anyone else. What exactly do we mean by being European? Is US Europeanl? Australia? In the current context we can define European as the modern western ideology that gives high value to an individual's right on his thoughts and to his/her right to express those thoughts. If we go by this definition the medieval Europe was hardly much European. And current Islamic societies including Turkey are also not much European.

Interestingly, a lot of eastern thought (for all of its shortcomings) provides the "infrastructure" for freedom of thought. A lot of religious persecution in Europe (and the Islamic world) is indeed based on religion and on monopolization of God by groups of men (and women). What is happening in Islam today, happened in Europe in the past when freedom of thought was curbed by the church. Luckily, christianity recovered from those dark ages and our world was blessed by lots and lots of good things that came out of Europe.

I come from India and often marvel at the contradictions that India presents to the world. Unlike Europe, no religion of India ever monopolized the God. Statements like 'let the good come to everyone', 'the entire universe is a family', and 'truth only prevails' are spoken in India, literally, a billion times a day. A lot of the rest of the eastern thought (China and rest of South Asia) also echo the Indian sentiments. Thus, in a way, the Eastern thought fundamentally provides the infrastructure for freedom of thought by having a truly catholic/non-monopolistic view on the devine. The contradiction of Indian life is that Indians blew away this beautiful infrastructure due to their caste system and everything that came with it.

Coming back to the 'Is Turkey European' question, monotheistic God does not have to be monopolistic (I think ancient Jews never intended to monopolize God). Due to its progression on the path of logic, philosophy, and science, Europe (and Christianity) gradually became truly catholic and reduced its monopoly on God. A die hard optimist that I am, I think that with time East will also fully adopt the freedom of thought for individuals. As I said, the infrastructure for freedom of thought is already present in the East. That leaves us with Islam. Once Islam also drops its monopolization of God, we will become a happy or happier planet. That day Turkey will become European. Until that day Turkey is not European. And, here, I define European as a society that places high value on an Individual's right on his thoughts and his/her right to express those thoughts.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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