Thursday, June 07, 2012

Barry Rubin: This Week, Turkey Went a Long Way Toward Becoming an Islamic Republic

I’d address this issue in my regular column in a Turkish newspaper but I can’t since that was cancelled within a few minutes of my sending in an article (not published) that criticized the government. I’d have a correspondent in Turkey write about this for you but my Turkish friends--even ones who have historically been courageous--are now all too afraid to do so. I could possibly publish something about it in the journal I edit, Turkish Studies, but only because a Turkish government-inspired effort to get me removed as editor failed miserably.
Barry Rubin

Today, Barry Rubin writes that This Week, Turkey Went a Long Way Toward Becoming an Islamic Republic.

He starts off by quoting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk--first President of Turkey, who is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey:
My people are going to learn the principles of democracy the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go. Let them worship as they will, every man can follow his own conscience provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him act against the liberty of his fellow men.
Those words serve as the backdrop to the extent to which Turkey has been returning to the Islamist fold:
Hardly surprising; deeply upsetting; and geo-strategically catastrophic, it’s official. Turkey has now passed over toward being an Islamist state. That turning point is marked by a tiny event of gigantic importance. Fazil Say is an internationally acclaimed Turkish classical pianist. He has performed with prestigious symphony orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Berlin, Israel Philharmonic, France, and Tokyo as well as being a European Union cultural ambassador. The Turkish state is now going to put him on trial.

An Istanbul court has accepted the prosecutor's charge, which amounts to heresy. Specifically, he is accused of insulting Islam because of tweets he sent.Say suggested that since the Koran says there are rivers of drinks in heaven that makes it sound like a pub, while the beautiful women available there make it sound like a brothel. A number of his tweets are quoted here. That’s his crime, writing a couple of sentences to describe his thoughts.
Read the whole thing.

These days, it may be that the only advantage of Turkey going Islamist is the reawakening of the dream of re-establishing the Ottoman Empire--putting it squarely in the path of Iran, which has its own Middle East and Islamist ambitions.

Sounds almost like one of those old Japanese monster movies.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, was published by Yale University Press in January 2012. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reportsand  Rubin Reports, on Pajamas Media

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