Saturday, April 14, 2007

A sign of hope in Turkey

Over 300,000 Turks protested against the Islamist Erdogan government in Ankara yesterday, in what could be a sign of major opposition to the continued slide of Turkey towards Islamism and sharia rule.

Protesters draped themselves in Turkish flags, called on the government to resign and chanted: “We don't want an imam as president!”

The specific occasion for the announcement was the retirement of Turkey's President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who is leaving on May 16th. Sezer is pro-secular, and has been a brake against the Islamist movement in Turkey, spearheaded by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan an dhis Justice and Development party, which has a majority in parliament.

Erdogan is expected to be named as a candidate to run to replace Sezer - and if he wins, another Islamist from Justice and Development could be named as prime Minister,putting the Turkish government almost entirely in Islamist hands.

Today's demonstration was the first pushback by secular forces in Turkey in some time, and an indication that Erdogan might face some major opposition if he runs for president.

The mass rally was held at a symbolic place - near the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey and a national icon.

Ataturk, a national figure and a hero of World War I came to power in 1923 after the demise of the Ottoman Empire. He created modern Turkey as a secular government, imposing Western-style laws and courts instead of sharia, replacing Arabic script with the Latin letters, banning burkhas and other types of Islamic dress and making women full citizens with the right to vote.

Even more to the point was the military's attitude.

“We hope that someone who is loyal to the principles of the republic — not just in words but in essence — is elected president,” Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, chief of the military, said Thursday after Sezer announced he was stepping down.

And the military was much in evidence at the protests, and were cheered by the protesters, especially after a ceremonial changing of the guard.

The military is known to be very conservative and pro-secular, and has staged three coups between 1960 and 1980.

Buyukanit just may be warning Erdogan not to run...and this may be the start of Turkey's turning away from the Islamist orbit.


Anonymous said...

the islamist/jihais will just kill those 300,000 protesters, blame the jooooos, and if the west doesn't like it, go pound sand......

Josh said...

I think you don't realize Turkey's political situation - the cornerstone of the secularist movement is the military.

Further, Turkey is actually a close ally of Israel, both militarily & economically - more tourists come to Turkey from Israel then from any other country.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi JR,
I agree with you about Turkey's military, and if you read carefully I said exactly that in the article.

However, at the present the military is not in control of the government, the Erdogan government is.

It's a hopeful sign that Turks en masse and elements in the military are aligning to protest the further Islamization of Turkey - let's hope they're successful.

Josh said...

I was responding to the first comment; not your article.