Sunday, April 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Huge rally for Turkish secularism

Hundreds of thousands of people have rallied in Istanbul in support of secularism in Turkey, amid a row over a vote for the country’s next president.

The protesters are concerned that the ruling party’s candidate for the post remains loyal to his Islamic roots.

The candidate, Abdullah Gul, earlier said he would not quit despite growing criticism from opponents and the army.

Mr Gul failed to win election in a first round parliamentary vote which opponents say was unconstitutional.

Opposition MPs boycotted the vote. They are also challenging its validity in the Constitutional Court.

An interesting series of developments in Turkey, to be sure.

Given that the AK (Gul’s party) has had the majority of seats in parliament and their leader has been Prime Minister, it isn’t as if there isn’t a track record as to how Gul (who has had a prominent role at Foreign Minister) might behave. While it is clear that many Turks understandably value the secular nature of their democracy, I continue to wonder if the threat to democracy isn’t greater from another military coup than it is from a Gul presidency.

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3 Responses to “Pro-Secularism Rally in Turkey”

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    1. Serhat SENEL Says:

      Dr. Taylor,

      I totally agree with you on what you said about military take over. However, these AK people are not as moderate as they claim. In other words, the military take over is not our worst nightmare. First thing AK has done, after a landslide election victory, was to ban alcohol in public. Second, they tried to change the criminal code that adultery would be a crime. These people can start a fight and literally could hurt you just because you do not fast or you are walking hand to hand with your girlfriend. In addition, these people do not shake hands with women unless they really have to do (diplomatic meetings etc). Believe me, that is part of our daily lives in some part of the country. Unfortunately, the military is the only thing scares them. Here is the poem by our Prime Minister Erdogan that put him jail:
      “The minarets are our bayonets; the domes are our helmets, Mosques are our barracks, the believers are soldiers. This holy army guards my religion Almighty Our journey is our destiny, the end is martyrdom“
      I can send you the pictures of him and Abduallah Gul sitting together with Taliban himself and other significant religously radical figures.
      I think Turkish people, at this point, are making a Rational choice. Yes, military take over definetely is not our best option. But it is a lot better than going back to where were five houndres years ago. We cannot afford to be another Iran.

    2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:


      Thanks for the comment.

      I suppose my main confusion is why, after the AK has been in in the PMship and has had a majority of the seats in the legislature that this move, Gul to the presidency, would spark a possible coup.

    3. MSS Says:

      I don’t follow Turkey all that closely, but what strikes me is that it is one of the few democratic countries in which the sectors that are more conservative on economics and more nationalist are also the more secular forces. This crisis (if that is what it is) is not only about secularism but also about economic liberalization, which the “secular” forces tend to oppose.

      Some of the nationalist/secularist forces have been looking for an excuse to confront the AK all along. This is their latest opportunity.

      I can’t judge whether a coup if really a credible threat or not. But the “threat” an AK presidency is just a convenient way to mobilize the conservative forces around the banner of “secularism.” Or at least that’s the way it looks from my perspective.

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