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Sunday, 15 April 2007
View from Ankara

This comment on Esmerelda's post, from Sean McMeekin in Ankara, deserves attention:

Having a healthy fear of large crowds and police truncheons I was not there myself, but my more courageous Turkish wife, her brother, and a good number of our Turkish friends were, and I debriefed them thoroughly (there has also been round-the-clock TV coverage here).

I have lived in Ankara for nearly five years, and have a good number of foreign friends who have been in Turkey since the 1970s and 1980s. I submit to Dave that he has probably not spent a great deal of time in this country if he honestly thinks the AKP and their Islamist followers are harmless. During the Cold War, it is true that there was some logic to supporting democracy and the Islamic parties here, to weaken the Communist Left. But since the last coup, in 1980, Turkey has really lurched backwards in every way but the economic. The muezzin gets louder every year, the mosques multiply. Priests are molested and murdered, synagogues threatened, attacked, put under heavy security. (Do you think it's atheists attacking Christians and Jews?) Just last year an Islamist maniac, following a vitriolic speech by Erdogan criticizing the Court of Appeal for overturning another new Islamic law, burst into that Court and murdered a judge Erdogan had mentioned by name. Every year the peer pressure to fast during Ramadan gets stronger: it's now to the point where you get beaten on the street in many towns if you drink water under the hot sun. Next year Ramadan hits summer. Should be lovely. In 2005, an edition of Mein Kampf, heavily subsidized by Islamic organizations, was marketed here at $3 hardcover: at that price it sold briskly. In shades of late Ottoman days, bars serving alcohol -- even Leyla on the Bosphorus, one of the most famous clubs in the country -- have been ransacked with tacit approval from the authorities. Entire zones of even ueber-secularist Ankara are now effectively off-limits to women in western style clothing. Etc.

If your other reader is unaware of what is at stake with Erdogan's effort to win the Presidency via a parliament he controls after having won only 35% of the vote five years ago, let me enlighten him. The current, secularist President has been vetoing the more serious AKP "reforms" -- like accrediting Imam Tip schools, where students learn nothing but Arabic and the Qu'ran, equivalent to proper secondary schools for the purposes of college admissions and military commissions. This is part of a "long march" strategy to capture the courts and the military, thus breaching the Kemalist firewall and paving the way for an Islamic republic a la Iran, with sharia law and all the rest. And he can do this -- capture the Presidency, lift the vetoes, transform the country utterly -- again, with only 35% of the vote, or soon less going on the current polls. (Even with only 30% or so in parliamentary elections later this year, Erdogan can still control the parliament.) Those of us who live here do not view this prospect happily.

Posted on 04/15/2007 4:18 AM by Mary Jackson
15 Apr 2007
Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thanks for getting back to us with that.

23 Apr 2007
john utting
and this is what are masters are hell bent on letting into the eu. islam marches on while the west watches reality shows. onn day soon they will find out how grim reality can be.    john

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