Monday, September 10, 2007

Fighting for the soul of Turkey

"In Turkey, even the winds have meaning. There is the samiel, a hot dry wind from the south associated with destruction; there's the lodos, the moist, warm southwesterly that brings with it lethargy and a tendency toward laissez-faire; then there's the karayel and poyraz,
winds from the north forecasting storms and warning people to take
shelter. The winds change often -- as they are currently doing in
Turkish politics.

After a spring season in which the
Islamic-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) and secularists,
including the army, faced off over the appointment of Abdullah Gul as
the country's new president, the standoff led to early elections on
July 22. The AKP won a resounding victory, garnering nearly half of the
popular vote -- a 14 per cent jump from its previous election results.
Then, last Tuesday, Gul, a devout Muslim and AKP member, finally won
the presidency after three parliamentary votes -- in the face of yet
another warning from the military. All that has set off a political
debate in Turkey virtually unparalleled in its history, with the
Islamist movement emboldened, and secularists, who lay claim to
Turkey's founding principles, on the defensive. "How the Turkish
experiment will unfold," says Soli Ozel, professor of political science
at Bilgi University in Istanbul, "is not going to be important just for
Turkey itself, but it will have repercussions."

Fighting for the soul of Turkey | - World - Global

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