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Turkey’s big hype May 2, 2007

Posted by mmonla in Politics.
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Turkey’s up in arms over the parliament’s election of a member of the ruling AKP party, Abdallah Gul, as president. The AKP’s Islamist roots seem to be worrying the radical secularists, all those headscarves and what not… In fact, the military, self-proclaimed defender of Kemalist principles, is threatening to forcibly oust Gul if he takes on the leadership.

This raises the issue of the apparent conflict between Islamic agendas and a secular democracy. But while it may look like Turkey is trying to decide for one or the other, what kind of secular democracy is it really when the ultimate reigns of power lie in the hands of its military? The truth is that the AKP was democratically elected and as shown in Erdogan’s last few years in power, they’ve proven to be fairly moderate.

Matthew Yglesias goes to the point of comparing the AKP to the American Republican party. I think that’s interesting, and it’s true that the Republicans’ constant use of Christian rhetoric to appeal to their voters does not make them any less democratic.

In a time of exportable democracies, it’s a debate that’s very relevant to the region and ultimately, whatever Turkey decides will influence the surrounding areas. Secularism and Islamism can both be taken to the level of uncompromising radicalism, so where do you draw the line? Personally, like one of Yglesias’s commentators, I’m a bit torn here between the protesters, keen on safeguarding their secular Kemalist heritage, and a moderate democratically elected Islamist-based ruling party. New elections have been called out (the speed of which I find impressive, crowds seldom have this much influence elsewhere), now what happens if the AKP wins again?

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