Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Turkey set to begin crackdown on press

"Turkey is preparing stringent laws to curb the nation's vocal press, which could criminalize criticism of government."

"Even before the application of the penal code amendments, about 60 Turkish journalists were either in jail or facing prosecution.
Under the amended law, journalists and publishers face prison sentences of up to five years if they "insult the state, discourage military service or publish classified information."
Amnesty International said the new laws "could be used to criminalize legitimate expression of dissent and opinion."
The new law also bars religious officials such as Muslim imams, Christian pastors and rabbis from criticizing the government during religious services. A call to disobey the government will be punishable by prison sentences of up to two years."

Turkey set to begin crackdown on press - The Washington Times: World - March 30, 2005

Turkey State Minister Claims Missionary Activities Impose on Freedoms

"According the 28th March edition of the Turkish Daily News, the State Minister overseeing Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate has openly accused the activities of foreign missionaries in the predominantly Muslim nation of stirring political turmoil, thus damaging social peace and unity."

"Aydin therefore urged the Religious Affairs Directorate to "enlighten the Turkish people, eradicate ignorance, and uphold the moral principles and beliefs of Islam" in order to counteract the widespread missionary propaganda that "have a historic background and are carried out in a well-planned manner with political motives". "

"The State Minister in fact did not provide any evidence of political involvement by missionaries."

"Turkey is officially a secular state. Despite it once being the geographical centre of Apostle Paul’s mission for the early Christian Church, the establishment of the Ottoman Empire has changed it into a powerful Islam country in the predominately Christian Europe. Nowadays, 99 percent of the 67 million-strong population are Muslim and most people have never heard of the gospel. In addition a small minority of Christians often faces persecution in the country."
Christian Today > Turkey State Minister Claims Missionary Activities Impose on Freedoms

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

An Improbable War and Turkey's New Opportunities

Another reporter gets the word on the street from some Turks on America and a controversial book . . .

"We want dialogue with the U.S., not war," says Turkish author Burak Turna. "We have written this book to prevent a war."

"Most recent Western articles about Metal Storm have centered simply on the fact that it has sold over 150,000 copies – but not bothered to get the feedback of anyone who actually read it."

"My frequent trips to the country over the past six years have shown me that in the vast majority of cases, any American, so long as they act sensibly and respectfully, will be treated well by most Turks. And a recent AP report conceded as much: "while criticism of Bush and U.S. policy has skyrocketed, there is little hostility toward Americans on the streets."

"Some Turks fear there is a religious dimension to this as well. "We can see clearly who supports Bush's wars: Israel and the Christian fundamentalists in America. These people are like crusaders. They want to make the whole world like them. It is true, Turkey is a secular Muslim state, but it is a Muslim state [nonetheless], and religious people here are afraid that they would like to 'convert' us someday."

"Turkey can be and should be a superpower in the world. We have all the resources and historical background for that. The EU would benefit from us but there is little benefit we can take from them. Turkey is a must for Europe's future, if they want to stay as one, but they are not a must for us."
An Improbable War and Turkey's New Opportunities - by Christopher Deliso

Monday, March 28, 2005

Missionary warning

"Missionary activities are not merely religious in nature but are also politically motivated activities aimed at harming social peace among Turks, says Mehmet Aydın, the state minister responsible for religious affairs."

"'The goal of those activities is harming the cultural, religious, national and historical unity of the people of Turkey,' Anatolia news agency quoted Aydın as saying. 'These are not merely religious activities and they are not only carried out by Christian clerics. We have observed doctors, nurses, engineers, Red Cross officials, human rights defenders, peace activists and language tutors conducting missionary activities.'"

Please pray that this type of scrutiny and persecution will have a positive impact on the work here.
Turkish Daily News - Missionary warning

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Bardakoğlu: Nobody can interfere in our sermons

"Religious Affairs Directorate head Ali Bardakoğlu said neither politicians nor the European Union can intervene in religious sermons, the Anatolia news agency reported yesterday.

�We prepare sermons without interference from anyone. Nobody has the right to intervene in our sermons,� said Bardakoğlu at the close of a seminar in Antalya, referring to news reports claiming that the directorate was writing religious sermons aligned with the EU.

�The Supreme Board of Religious Affairs, an independent board affiliated with the Religious Affairs Directorate, drafts sermons in accordance with the republic's basic principles -- secularism and democracy -- without taking into consideration the demands or expectations of those from outside,� he said.

�We make decisions on religious issues and allow neither domestic nor international politics to intervene in religion,� Bardakoğlu noted."

EU pressures Ankara on reforms and harmonisation protocol

"EU officials also said they were discomforted over a sermon read in Turkey’s mosques that they said encouraged discrimination against other religions was encouraged. The officials said that the sermon stated that Islam was the sole religion and that missionaries and the other sects were stealing the faith of Turkey’s the youth."
EU pressures Ankara on reforms and harmonisation protocol

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The prime minister is a tall man with a moustache

"Soon, under the new penal code, it will be an offense to call a bald man a bald man. Before the new laws take effect on April Fool's Day (God, what an irony!), may Equilibrium take the safe liberty to say that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a tall man? Or, that Mr. Erdogan is a man with a moustache? In fact, the prime minister is more than a tall man with a moustache."

"Mr. Erdogan is constantly brawling with the media. When a court turned down his appeal for compensation from a political cartoonist for drawing the premier as a cat entangled in a web of wool, he ordered criminal proceedings against the cartoonist. Mr. Erdogan believes �someone� has pushed the button to end his days in power. He feels threatened and behaves like a cornered cat, feeling threatened and ready to scratch."

"It was the same man who successfully tackled a raft of political reforms aimed at more civil liberties and freedom of speech. Ironically, shrugging off his own EU aspirations, Mr. Erdogan is now trying to run Turkey with an iron fist.

His most recent offensive in his battle with the press is a slew of amendments to the penal code that include provisions which will curtail press freedom and could land more journalists in jail. The amendments will take effect on April 1, only half a year before Mr. Erdogan's pro-EU government hopes to start EU accession talks.

The changes include new regulations for the press, including prison sentences ranging from six months to five years for journalists or publishers who �insult� the state, discourage military service or publish classified information. Covering issues such as euthanasia or cases of rape or suicide can also land journalists in jail under the new laws. Legal experts say the changes bring about jail terms for journalists on more than 20 different charges."

"But it's not only journalists who must �behave� if one wants to stay away from trouble. For example, an article brings prison terms of up to one year for imams, priests and rabbis if, during religious services, they criticize the government, its governance or its laws. The penalty is up to two years in jail if religious leaders encourage their communities to be disobedient towards the government."

"True, domestic politics in Turkey is a slippery slope. Things may turn upside down in a matter of weeks. All the same, Mr. Erdogan will be doing himself harm if he has to antagonize everyone he comes across. After all, Turkey's political wasteland is full of former leaders who felt threatened by free speech and tried to intimidate the press to make their governments immune to negative publicity."
Turkish Daily News - The prime minister is a tall man with a moustache

Religious freedom and secularism

"We have always asserted that, in addition to many other factors, how a state and its people approach issues of �religious freedoms� demonstrates the level of democratic understanding in a country."

"Yesterday I received a lengthy letter from an �enraged reader� -- as he/she signed it -- criticizing a statement made by Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu about the number of �missionaries� and �illegal places of worship� in Turkey.

We believe religion is a private matter, one of personal choice of any individual to believe and worship -- or not -- as he/she chooses, in whatever fashion, following any religion that the individual finds most appropriate. It is none of our business to advise anyone to chose any religion or to be an atheist or deist."

"The reader -- the letter is being referred to not because an �enraged reader� signature was qualified enough to be considered but rather because the subject was a very sensitive one -- complains that �Putting one's religious choice on one's identity card before one can even put two thoughts together is just plain stupid. It degrades religion to merely an ancestral or governmental stamp. Just like an inoculation, a shot taken against some 'foreign' element. No one is born a Muslim, a Christian or a Buddhist ... everyone chooses to follow whichever religion seems true to them as one gets to the age that one can properly choose. Do you not know this? Obviously, you don't.�

Well, first of all, generalizations may lead people to make mistakes. Unfortunately, no infant in any part of the world enjoys the right to decide his/her religion. It's a universal practice to assume that the infant automatically acquires the religion of the father or the mother. It's not just the �religion� section of ID cards which emphasizes that paternal imposition, though we fully agree with the reader that the religion section on ID cards must be eliminated because it is divisive rather than uniting and is against the principle that religion is sacred between the creator and the created."
Turkish Daily News - Religious freedom and secularism

Aksu says number of missionaries in Turkey is unknown

"Interior Minister Abdülkadir Aksu said the actual number of missionaries in Turkey was unclear in response to a written inquiry from Adýyaman deputy Mahmut Göksu from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“It's impossible to work out the actual figure since their activities are secret,” the minister added after mentioning that some news reports had revealed an increase in missionary activity in Turkey and claimed youngsters in city centers and villages were changing their religion."

"“Security units are filing complaints at public prosecutors' offices against some foreigners or those of Turkish origin belonging to certain religious groups, for example, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses and Bahaists, upon claims that these groups abuse the freedom of religion and conscience safeguarded by the Constitution and international conventions,” the minister said.

“Everyone in Turkey knows how the missionaries work. They are mostly focused on children from poor families, those from different ethnic groups, sects and cultures and victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods,” he added.

Aksu said there were 88 worshipping places operating illegally in Turkey and noted the ministry had sent each of them a statement urging them to align themselves with the relevant legislation."

Science - Atheism's Death Knell?

"The fastest growing religious worldview of the 20th century has reversed course and begun to decline.

Atheism, (which the Supreme Court ruled was a 'religion' in its landmark 1961 case, ‘Torcaso V. Watkins') is suffering a loss in numbers as evidence pointing to the existence of God mounts."

"According to one analysis, the main culprit responsible for the decimation of the ranks of worldwide atheism is its former chief recruiting tool -- science."

" . . . has abandoned atheistic secular humanism in favor of the concept of 'intelligent design' -- a view totally incompatible with atheism.

For an atheist, the concept of intelligent design is an utter demolition of the fundamental doctrine of man's supremacy in the universe. There is no bridge that can span the gap between 'intelligent design' and the benchmark article of faith of atheism -- the theory of random chance."

"Writes Turkish philosopher Harun Yahya, "Atheism, which people have tried to explain for hundreds of years as 'the ways of reason and science,' is proving to be mere irrationality and ignorance."

"Atheism is in decline because scientific advancements continue to discredit the theory of evolution. Unlocking the human genome (DNA) has demolished any argument that favors 'random chance'.

Science has determined a single strand of DNA is a biological 'computer' so advanced it can store more information than the Library of Congress.

Arguing 'random chance' becomes the equivalent to arguing my computer could have just as easily evolved out of a collision between a truckload of TV sets and a truckload of Radio Shack parts, turned itself on, installed its own software, and then connected itself to the internet."
Bible Prophecy - The Omega Letter - Christian Intelligence - News & Current Events

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Suspicious minds in a secular land

"Turkey, with about the same population as Egypt, is one of the two largest Muslim states in the Middle East. It is also the only democratic Muslim state in the Middle East, the only one with a substantial Jewish population left and the only one that is a military ally of the US. Indeed Turkey has the second largest army in NATO after the US.

It is governed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. AKP won office in November 2002. It was a breakaway from an overtly Islamist party. The last time Islamists held power in the 1980s, they were thrown out of office by the military for breaching the strict secularism of Turkey's constitution."

"Turkey's secularism is almost unique in the modern world. It is not designed to free religion from the interference of the state but to free the state from the interference of religion."

"My mother could wear miniskirts in Istanbul. You can't do that today or people will look at you strangely and make you feel uncomfortable. It's the immigrants from eastern Turkey. They come into Istanbul from the villages and it's like they bring their village life to Istanbul. Thank God we have a good army which protects the Turkish way of life."

"The real battle for Turkey is the battle for Turkish hearts and minds.

The coffee shops of Istanbul and Ankara, and Izmir and Kars, and the vast, fertile farms of Anatolia, through which conflicting, mad conspiracy theories swirl, in competition with more sane and liberal politics, are as much a battleground for the future of democracy and moderate Islam in the Middle East as is the Sunni triangle in Iraq.

And the outcome, perhaps, is almost as uncertain."
The Australian: Suspicious minds in a secular land [March 12, 2005]

Priests in a Turkish theology department

"Two priests are giving lessons about Christianity at Bursa's Uludağ University Department of Theology, within the framework of the Erasmus Project, which is a European Commission exchange program that enables students in 31 European countries to study for a portion of their degree in another country."

Turkish Daily News - Priests in a Turkish theology department

Friday, March 18, 2005

US Congress: Solve the Patriarchate Issue

"The US Congress discussed the problems of the Fener Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul and called on the Turkish government to solve these problems in the context of respect for the freedom of religion."


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Significance of Jerusalem in Islam, Judaism and Christianity

"With peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians once again picking up steam, many are reminded that the status of Jerusalem is going to be one of the key issues, and probably more difficult to resolve than even the size of the future Palestinian state. In fact, the status of Jerusalem, as well as the right of Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their descendants (and other relatives) to move to Israel, is what caused the breakdown of final status peace talks in 2000. The primary reason why Jerusalem is such a hot subject is not just due to its political significance as the city demanded as capital of two different nations, but also due to its religious significance."

JTW News - Significance of Jerusalem in Islam, Judaism and Christianity

Muslims Converting Christianity of Other Religious Origins

"The weekly news magazine Aksiyon in its latest issue drew attention to a subject that to date has not come to the agenda, "Converted Christian Turks". According to the article, thousands of "house churches" have opened across Anatolia and tens of thousands of Turkish youths have converted to Christianity.

However, Aksiyon's article indicated that the reality is very different. The article indicates that hundreds of Turkish Citizens who have Turkish names and therefore for many years have been assumed to be Muslims have recently returned to their former religions and names."

"According to research conducted into those who converted to Christianity, the conversions mostly take place in Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Adiyaman, Batman, Sivas, Tunceli, and Malatya."


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Turkish Daily News - Van islands home to botanical treasure

"A study in Van that has been ongoing for the last three years has shown that the four islands of Lake Van, namely Akdamar, Çalpanak, Adır and Kuzu, have an abundance of botanical riches. The study, conducted by three scientists, revealed some 346 different types of herbs and plants on these islands, some of which are endemic."

" One of the four islands of Lake Van -- Akdamar -- has great tourism potential, partially due to a historic Armenian church located on it, known as Akdamar Kilisesi (Church of the Holy Cross)."
Turkish Daily News - Van islands home to botanical treasure

Friday, March 11, 2005

Brou-ho-ho ensues over statue of Santa

"It is possible that in the land of tens of thousands of public statues, not everyone fully appreciated the bronze Santa Claus sent from Russia with love.

Five years ago, the Russian government donated a life-size statue of St. Nicholas to Demre, a port town in southern Turkey where 1,600 years ago the saint whose name has become synonymous with Santa Claus lived, worked and died. The statue stood in the town center outside the Church of St. Nicholas until recently, when the denizens of Demre decided that the Russian Santa "had completed its mission," in the words of the local mayor.

The Russian Santa was removed and a new Santa installed, with a new look--straight out of the dime-store greeting-card genre, in candy-cane colors."

"One night the statue was removed and replaced with a caricatured, commercialized, cheap thing," said Muammer Karabulut, chairman of the Santa Claus Foundation. "We are offended."

A group of Russian intellectuals has appealed to Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in an open letter for help in getting the statue back on its pedestal.

"This is shameful behavior," said the sculptor, Gregory Potosky, in the Turkish papers. "Is this what you do with a gift?" | CELEBRITY NEWS

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Turkey must be encouraged to reject its brutal dark side

"This peaceful Turkish demonstration in favour of women's rights was smashed as if it were a bloodthirsty band of anarchists equipped with petrol bombs. The scenes, from Istanbul this week, invariably raise questions about whether the country is fit to join the European Union. The EU has already expressed its shock at the "disproportionate force" used against the demonstrators."

"Turkey is the Islamic world's first and most succesful secular democracy. Despite the violence of police in Istanbul, it is very different from the brutal stereotype of Alan Parker's film Midnight Express, where a young American is tortured and raped in prison after attempting to smuggle cannabis out of the country."

"The family is at the centre of national culture. In common with other traditional societies, they place a higher value on friendship, loyalty and honour."

"Enlightened commentators within Turkey this week suggested the police were particularly brutal because their traditional right to behave as they like will be severely curtailed under the new code. They feel the wind of change and they dislike it enormously."
Turkey must be encouraged to reject its brutal dark side -The Herald

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Why are we frightened of minorities?

"What is most interesting is the fact that our discrimination campaign was waged by two opposite sides for different reasons, but the result was the same.

The pro-religion side of the state imposed restrictions in the name of �protecting Islam.� It forced the arrest of those who distributed free Bibles, and it banned missionaries.

The secular side of the state, on the other hand, continually imposed bans to keep tabs on religious foundations.

These efforts eventually created significant confusion. Today we want to become a European Union member, but we can't see any way of resolving this matter."

"Can't you just imagine what's happening? In a country of 70 million we are frightened of a few hundred thousand non-Muslims.

We are worried about them establishing churches and continuing to exist with the help of their foundations.

What do you think they'll do?

Are they going to distribute free books and convert all 70 million of us to Christianity? Will the missionaries succeed in persuading society? Will their foundations become so rich that they will divide up the country?

How can this even be taken seriously?"
Turkish Daily News - Mehmet Ali Birand: Why are we frightened of minorities?

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Janissaries Are Coming

A good, brief historical summary of the Janissaries, just in case you ever wanted to know . . .

The Janissaries Are Coming by Daniel D. New

Turkish police detain women's rights protesters

Another black eye for Turkish tolerance . . .

"Television pictures showed riot police charging protesters, beating them with batons and kicking them on the ground. One policeman beat a woman to the ground with his baton, then another ran up and kicked her in the face."

"Turkish women do enjoy greater freedoms than those in many other Muslim nations. For decades they have had the right to vote, access to education and the right to divorce.

But gender equality is not enshrined in the constitution, and religious tradition often prevents equal treatment.

Up to half of women face domestic abuse in a 'culture of violence,' Amnesty International has said. Dozens of women are murdered by family members each year in so-called honour killings."
World News Article |

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Freedom of expression is not a luxury

"It's no secret that like most of the previous chief executives of this country, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does not particularly like criticism. Tales abound as to how his press staff at the Prime Ministry has avoided presenting 'hazardous' critical material to the eyes of the premier."

"'People who are in the public light are forced to endure criticism in the same way they endure applause," judge Mithat Ali Kabaali said in his ruling. "A prime minister who was forced to serve a long jail term for reciting a poem should show more tolerance to these kinds of criticisms."

What more can one say than this, other than reminding the prime minister that freedom of expression is not just a luxury meant to be enjoyed only by the team in power in a country. Many people in Turkey are very much aware of the 'symbol' attached to the headscarf and the meaning of the shape of beards and such. Still, in addition to the Islamists, many secularists are very much against the headscarf ban, not because they want to have scarves on their heads but because they consider such restrictions to be a violation of freedom of belief and freedom of expression."
Turkish Daily News - Freedom of expression is not a luxury

The Life and Testimony of a Converted Muslim

A long, but good article that shows some of the struggles that a Muslim can face when they follow Jesus. It is shared as a prayer request in broken English.
Pakistan Christian Post: "Turkish"

Cold Turkey

The Washington Times published a good article that summarizes some of the lies the Turkish media has been spreading about America. Again, I would ask you to pray that these efforts in no way hinder the spread of God's Word here.

"No one noticed as Turkey, an erstwhile ally, nabbed the gold medal recently in the global anti-American stakes. Those with the most negative views of the Bush administration's policies are (1) Turks with 82 percent; (2) Indonesians, 81 percent; (3) Lebanese, 80 percent; (4) Argentines, 79 percent; (5) Brazilians, 78 percent."

"After reading a long list of lies and distortions published by the Turkish media, the gold medal is hardly surprising. From left to right, and from centrist to Islamist, the United States is raked over hot coals with odious comparisons to Nazi Germany. The Middle East Media Research Institute has once again scored in bringing to our attention trends our mainstream media has ignored. The difference between what Osama bin Laden said in his 19 audio and videotapes since 9/11, and what some Turkish journalists write, is hard to detect. If anything, the Turks out-venom bin Laden."

"Bush," the venomous Turk continued, "who is an ally of the Zionists, belongs to the racist philosophy too. The beliefs of Bush's evangelical church coupled with Jewish racism, which exceeds Hitler's, are sufficient proof that the 'Sharon-Bush duo' is militants of the same fanatical philosophy. Hitler said he would establish a new order if Germany won. Bush is after similar invasions."
Commentary: Cold Turkey - (United Press International)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

How Should Non-Muslims Approach Islamic History?

"The present conflict between Islamist extremists and the world order is in many respects a confrontation between interpretations of religious history, and therefore between differing methods of interpreting religious history. Radical Islam, particularly in its Wahhabi form, as the state cult in Saudi Arabia which inspires the terrorists of al-Qaeda and its allies, treats the record of Islamic revelation as an unchanging source of authority, which may neither be interpreted nor questioned. In reality, classical Islam, prior to the emergence of Wahhabism only 250 years ago, viewed all aspects of Islamic revelation, from the holy scripture of Qur'an to the details of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, as subject to debate."

"Some Christian commentators have mirrored the colossal intellectual error of the Islamists, in ignoring controversy within Islam. Non- and anti-Muslim polemicists argue, like Muslim radicals, that Islamic textual and canonical authority is rigid and unchallengeable. These mainly Christian critics then select out of the Islamic past the elements they consider most shocking to Western sensibilities and hold them up as fundamental to the belief of all Muslims anywhere."
TCS: Tech Central Station - How Should Non-Muslims Approach Islamic History?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Christianity's empty cradle?

While this article is not concerned with Protestant Christianity, it does offer some interesting history of the church in this region:

"In Turkey, where the 1915 Armenian genocide is still a painful memory, other Christians were forced from their ancestral homes in the last decades of the 20th century during Turkey’s suppression of the Kurdish rebellion, as Dalrymple explains in From the Holy Mountain. Caught between the Turkish military and Kurdish rebels, Anatolia, the ancient Christian heartland, has been depopulated of Christians. In Istanbul, the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, only 2,000 Orthodox Christians remain.

In sum, “the cradle of Christianity” is under enormous pressures from demographic decline, the growth of Islamic militancy, official and unofficial discrimination, the Iraq war, the Palestinian intifada, failed peace policies and political manipulation. Political conditions, including Lebanon’s sputtering recovery from its civil war, have accelerated this decline. U.S. policy has had an indirect but decidedly negative impact, especially in Iraq, but in its neglect of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and ambivalence toward Lebanon’s political and economic recovery as well. To the degree that “the war on terror” has inflamed relations with Middle East Muslims and spurred the growth of Islamic militancy, it has also aggravated the situation for the region’s Christians."

Cover story -- Essay: Christianity's empty cradle?

Church and state in Istanbul

"Christian missionaries infiltrating our country! Islam is slipping out of our hands!" These words represent the epitome of a very hot debate in Turkey in recent weeks. What made them more surprising than ever was that they belonged not to a conservative Muslim, but to Rahsan Ecevit — the influential wife of Bulent Ecevit, Turkey's former prime minister and long-time guru of left-wing, secularist ideology. Nobody had heard Mrs. Ecevit worrying about the future of Islam before; instead, she used to speak about the "threat" of it."

"Actually, Mrs. Ecevit is not the only secular Turk who is furious at Christian missionaries, whose only "crime" is distributing free Bibles on Turkish streets and opening small, in-house chapels for the tiny Christian community in Turkey."

"Thus, most consider the recent attack on missionaries to be a tactical move in the big game that the Kemalist elite are playing against democratization. By arguing that the bearers of the Cross are invading Turkey and that the AKP government is allowing this to happen, they hope to convince the conservative voters that the whole democratization process is a great conspiracy to destroy Turkey by weakening its national ethos."

"It is a pity that some conservative Muslims, or at least their pundits, are buying into this propaganda. Horrified by the imagined threat from Christianity, they appeal to the authoritarian measures of the state. They demand that Bible-distributing Christians should be arrested, or chapels in their homes should be put under police scrutiny. Alas, they are forgetting that they themselves have been victims of such persecutions from the authorities for many decades. They should realize that the real issue here is religious freedom, and if it is to be preserved, it must be extended to all."
Mustafa Akyol on Turkey on National Review Online

Rising nationalism

"Anyone who has been educated in Turkey has been raised and trained to be a nationalist rather than a citizen equal in legal status, free in choice and empowered by the will to participate in public policy. In fact, citizenship is acquired or paid for by being an obedient subject to the national state. Hence the perception of the nation is larger than life and, until recently, has been labeled a “sacred entity” in the preamble of the Turkish Constitution."

"For Ataturk, the founding father of the republic, nationalism was more about a deep patriotism aimed at elevating the nation to the level of contemporary civilization. Consistent with the ideological breadth and depth of the original nationalist, he wanted to place Turkey on the world map as an effective and revered nation-state. However, his followers failed to successfully fashion the tools to make Turkey a global actor. Following the zestful first decades of the republic, nationalism became an introverted defense ideology colored with a populism that was upheld by the state's distribution of favors and patrimonial protection of the uncompetitive pre-modern masses. Rather than nurturing an ideology to strengthen the nation, nationalism became a source of legitimization of state patrimony over a nation of dependents who saw the state as their protector and provider."

"The outcome is quite bleak. In defense of Turkishness, meaning the official definition of citizenship in Turkey, other ethnic or cultural identities have become the “other.” The insistence of incorporating Kurdishness into Turkishness, rather than uniting them in the general framework of citizenship, has created two conflicting nationalisms. Rather than creating a citizens' synergy, Turkish nationalism and Kurdish nationalism have been sharpened against each other like two blades. Turkish nationalism has become even more narrowly focused in recent years as an antithesis of Kurdish nationalism; this has come about in defense of the unity of the country and the “nation” that is defined as Turkish. Such nationalism is indubitably xenophobic and authoritarian. How, then, can it be the political vehicle to make Turkey become a global or even a regional actor?"
Turks.US - Rising nationalism

Islam’s Democratic Imperative

This author's view: That Islam's only proper interpretation is one of peace and all those who pursue war and terrorism are misinterpreting the Koran.

"My understanding is drawn from a principle contained by the basic Islamic theory of legal reasoning, which asserts that when strong religious interests can be realized only through a particular path of action, that path itself is no longer a matter of choice. It also becomes a religious rule. Thus, if we can establish that democracy is the means to realize the strong interests of the Muslim community – and I believe we can do this – then democracy may be declared a religious duty in Islam."

"We must recognize that democracy has proved its worth around the world. It is the best way of organizing a society based on reality and not ideals. Why shouldn’t Iraqis benefit from the proven experience of other peoples?"