Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Keep an eye on Turkey

As everyone waits to see if Paris Hilton is going to raped in prison, there is real news of real importance going on in the world. Watch as the original and most successful secular Muslim tries not to fall in the pit of Islamism. If it does, there will be a huge bloodbath. The Army will rip itself and its nation apart - and the Turks know it. To find good reporting on this though, you have to go to the British and German press.
At least one million Turks have rallied in the city of Izmir to protest against any government plans to undermine Turkish secularism.
Three thousand police were on hand to deal with the huge crowd. Many protesters travelled from other parts of Turkey to fill a 2-kilometer (1.25-mile) oceanfront strip. They carried signs against Erdogan, who has raised tension in recent weeks by nominating his foreign minister, Abdullah Gül -- who likewise has roots in Islamic political parties -- for president. There were protests in Istanbul and Ankara before Gül was rejected by a fractious parliament, which according to the Turkish constitution, is responsible for choosing the country's president. But last Thursday the same parliament passed a bill (more...) to change the constitution and elect future presidents by popular vote.

Erdogan and his party believe Gül would win a popular election. But Turkey's current president, a secularist named Ahmet Necdet Sezer, can still veto the bill.

Gül's candidacy was opposed not just by secularists in the parliament but by the military, which has been known to remove governments it doesn't like. Veiled threats from generals during Gül's presidential bid inflamed national tensions, and protesters in Izmir carried not just anti-Erdogan banners but also paper hats with slogans: "No to Islamic law, no to military coups: a democratic Turkey."
If Turkey falls to Islamism, everything changes. We will be, in effect, blindsided by history.

Once again, if you have ever been to Istanbul or Ankara would not believe how Western they are compared to what you thought. Enjoy it while you can. It would be a huge loss. Now, drive into the countryside and you have a different country. To see what a modern group of Muslims does when they protest, watch the video.

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