Friday, September 01, 2006

'Islamist conspiracy' fear in Turkey

"Turkey has long been valued by the West as a secular Muslim ally but now one former military officer tells the BBC that secularism is under threat."

"Symbols of such unity seem a little over-optimistic in today's Turkey, marked as it is by the regular bomb attacks of separatist Kurdish groups.

In the towns and villages of the south-east, where support for the outlawed armed gangs of the PKK runs high, local officials sit with what must be permanently gritted teeth beneath the de-rigueur portraits of Ataturk.

But there is another perhaps more significant reason why the Father of the Turks deeply divides his 70 million "children".

And it is about more than ethnic difference. It has to do with religion."

""He was truly an enemy of Allah to the core," writes one Islamist thinker.

Ataturk made Turks look West, not East, for their cultural and political inspiration.

As well as giving women the vote and introducing the Latin alphabet for the written Turkish language for the first time, he formed the secular state with a divide between religion and government enshrined clearly in law.

His ban on women wearing headscarves in public institutions endures as one of the issues that most incites bitterness, even violence, in Turkey today."
BBC NEWS | Programmes | Correspondent | 'Islamist conspiracy' fear in Turkey

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