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Some of the basics on Turkey...

Reader comment on item: Is Turkey Going Islamist?
in response to reader comment: I've been making the same observations about Turkey

Submitted by Barin Kayaoglu (United States), Jan 15, 2006 at 02:54

I do understand that some of the esteemed commentators in this forum are not well-informed on Turkey (in varying degrees). Let's recall some basics on Turkey:

A. Turkey has a system of checks and balances. Not even Erdogan's presidency can significantly alter the political landscape. There is still a very powerful - and stubbornly secular - judiciary. As an added bonus, the Turkish constitution's articles on the characteristics of the state (defined as secular, populist, democratic, and upholding the rule of law) are not amendable.

B. Some of the comments about Christians and Jews living in fear in Turkey are plain ludicrous. Following the al-Qaeda attacks on two Istanbul synagogues in November 2003, "Islamist" Erdogan visited the Chief Rabbinate to extend the nation's condolences. For the past decade Turkish presidents and prime ministers have routinely sent notes of goodwill to chief rabbis and archbishops on Christian and Jewish holy days.

C. In the Middle East, we have given the benefit of the doubt to Yithzak Rabin and Ariel Sharon. Both of these men demonstrated remarkable changes in their stance vis-a-vis the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I do believe that Erdogan deserves a similar chance. To be sure, the guy is never going to come forward and say that he is staunchly secular. He does, however, increasingly appreciate his limitations and the strengths of the Turkish regime and is moving on.

(For those of you not fluent in Turkish and/or unable to follow the Turkish press, Erdogan's chief advisor Omer Celik made a very interesting remark last October. According to Celik, secularism has been Turkey's "nuclear power," meaning that the country has been strengthened because it has not been burdened by religious dogma for all this time http://www.sabah.com.tr/2004/06/13/yaz1000-50-111.html )

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