|The Turkish Conundrum|
|Monday, 07 June 2010|
|Baffled by the strict secular culture of their modern state and the European Union’s opposition to Turkish membership, at least not until a decade from now, more Turks feel nostalgia for the glory days of their lost Ottoman Empire. In the recent flotilla incident, off the coast of the Gaza, “a hardcore of 40 Turkish jihadists on board the Mavi Marmara was responsible for the violence that led to nine deaths and dozens of injuries on the flotilla taking aid to Gaza, the Israeli government claimed.”Perhaps, the Turks’ intention was to flex their muscles for the prospect of leadership of the Islamic Ummah and attract the attention of the Muslim world. And the shortest distance to achieve this goal is to wrestle with none other than the most despised state in the Middle East, the State of Israel. Since time immemorial, the Jews have been victims of hatred and violence by many groups and many nations and have been used as scapegoats.
Israel, in reality, is a culmination of thousands of years of gestation during which the Jewish people, dispersed through much of the world, endured immense degrees and varieties of suffering. The Nazi murderers and their collaborators capped the crimes committed against Jewish people by brutally slaughtering six million innocent men, women and children. But today, Israel is a strong and sovereign state yet, hardly safe. She is surrounded by nations and peoples who are constantly bent on her destruction.
Since 2002, the Turkish military has been slowly losing its once strong grasp over the government of Turkey. The year 2002 was the first time in 15 years that a single party government was formed. Erdogan’s election as Prime Minster in 2002 and again in 2007 shows the huge support the AKP had gained among the Turkish population. This was followed by Abdullah Gul’s election as President in 2007, making this the first time the two most important offices of state were occupied by devout Muslims.
Despite an earlier close relationship between Israel and Turkey, it has slowly begun to fall apart. Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries to have dealings with Israel, but relations have been strained since the Islamist-rooted AK Party was elected to power in 2002. The tension became obvious when Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed off the stage
at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos after a heated debate on Gaza with Israel’s president, Shimon Peres.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
angrily told the Turkish parliament last Tuesday that the “bloody massacre” of at least four Turkish activists among nine passengers slain by Israeli naval commandos was a turning point in the long-standing alliance.
In April 2009, at a joint news conference in Turkey, President Obama
said: “I’m trying to make a statement about the importance of Turkey, not just to the United States but to the world. I think that where there’s the most promise of building stronger U.S.-Turkish relations is in the recognition that Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership in which a predominantly Christian nation, a predominantly Muslim nation — a Western nation and a nation that straddles two continents,” he continued, “that we can create a modern international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous, that there are not tensions — inevitable tensions between cultures — which I think is extraordinarily important.”
In June 2007, the Pew Research Center polled citizens of 47 countries on their attitude toward the US. Turkey turned up at rock bottom, with 83% of respondents holding an unfavorable view of the United States and only 9% of Turks expressing a favorable view, compared to 21% of Egyptians and 29% of Indonesians. In 2000, 52% of Turks expressed a favorable view of the United States. This is not a general result. Only 46% of Nigerians held a favorable view of the United States in 2000, for example, compared to 70% in 2007. Here is the 2005 research on the Anatomy of Anti-Americanism in Turkey by the Brooking Institution
There is an important lesson to be learned from the drama presently unfolding in Turkey. Modern Turkey, the only democracy in the Islamic Middle East, was established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
. He abolished the caliphate in 1924, replaced Islamic rules with modern secular laws and barred the mosques from politics. Ever since, the mosque has been fighting and gradually succeeding in dragging Turkey back under its rule. Presently, what the Western mainstream media calls a “mildly Islamist” party rules Turkey under the rightfully suspicious eyes of the secularist heirs of Ataturk, the Turkish military. All kinds of Western leftists loudly proclaimed that there was nothing to worry about, that the forthcoming Turkish election that was going to install “mildly Islamists” as president as well as the Prime Minister is no cause for the millions of Turkish secularists to pour into the streets against such an outcome.
Why all the fuss? After all, the “mildly Islamists” are not all that bad and they are coming to power through free elections, the leftists keep preaching. In reality, even coining the term, “mildly Islamist” is a clear instance of the leftists’ treachery. Being “mildly Islamist” is as plausible as being mildly pregnant. There is no such a thing as mild Islam. It only starts mildly, just the way Muhammad himself started it in Mecca. Then, it builds momentum and settles for nothing less than the total imposition of its dogma and will. Being “mildly Islamist” is only the head of the camel poking into the room, wherever the head of the animal goes, if it is not chopped off, the body eventually follows. And the body of Islam is a disease-bearing body that will infect the healthy secular societies.
against creeping Islamism in their government are still a minority, a minority that has first-hand experience with both secularism and Islamism. They also see the horrors of Islamism next door in Iran and are rightfully alarmed by the ever-encroaching Islamism in their government. They know full well that they must resist the backward march of their country and must do all they can to protect their precious freedom. Do we, in America and the West, have the same sense and the will to forestall “mild Islamism” from evolving into a real Islamism?
Just a sobering note, “Mild Islamism” is already here in our country, the Muslim cab driver the of Minneapolis Airport’s refusal to ferry passengers with alcohol or even those with seeing-eye dogs; Muslim inmates’ demand to be served only halal food ; building of a 13-story high mosque at the ground zero
; Muslim students badger universities for special facilities for their meetings; and, the first ever Muslim Congressman’s oath of office by swearing on the Quran and not the Bible.
Mild Islam is not all that obtrusive, since it is similar to the early stages of pregnancy. Yet, pregnancy it is. And before long the full-term beast will make its appearance. If we don’t want to deal with the beast, we need to prevent the pregnancy in the first place.
By advocating “moderate Islam” on the Turkish model, the United States undermines the secular state founded by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish state after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. That is perhaps the reason why many secular Turkish nationalists despise America just as much as Turkish Islamists.
We do well to pay close attention to the words of Prime Minister Erdogan himself. Speaking at Kanal D TV’s Arena program, Prime Minister Erdogan commented on the term “moderate Islam”, often used in the West to describe AKP and said, “These descriptions are very ugly; it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” And he is right.