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Turkey votes today
July 22, 2007 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Secular or islamic society? Kemal Atatürk - the Father of modern day Turkey - is watching closely and so is it's secular minded military. Is the country inching closer to Islam or Democracy? A 90% (!) turnout of the 42 million voters is to be expected for this important decision. Al Jazeera has a insightful special covering the event.
posted by homodigitalis (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This is the most misleading FPP I have read in a while. Kemal Ataturk is dead and thus not watching closely at all. Islam or Democracy isn't the dichotomy. It is secular military rule with pseudo democracy vs. possibly Islamic democracy.

The issue that will blow turkey apart is that the Islamic parties are succeeding democratically. The secular parties are relying on the backing of a coup ready military.
posted by srboisvert at 9:04 AM on July 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


The average American doesn't even know what "secular" means.
posted by Brian B. at 9:05 AM on July 22, 2007


alexander the great is watching closely too!
posted by bruce at 9:09 AM on July 22, 2007


The 90% bit isn't all that surprising, given that voting is compulsory in Turkey.
posted by dismas at 9:11 AM on July 22, 2007


The average American doesn't even know what "secular" means.

And they think Turkey just tastes great, secular or otherwise. I, personally, enjoy my Turkey with a little Kemal Atatürk on top in place of cranberry sauce.
posted by milarepa at 9:11 AM on July 22, 2007 [1 favorite]




@srboisvert: Yeah sure.

Islamic Democracy like in Iran? Turkish Generals have restored democracy after their intervention - when did Mullahs in Iran ever give back any of their powers?
posted by homodigitalis at 9:12 AM on July 22, 2007


The 90% bit isn't all that surprising, given that voting is compulsory in Turkey.

Last time it was only 72% - although is was also compulsory.
posted by homodigitalis at 9:13 AM on July 22, 2007


Zombie Ataturk got Tivo a couple of months ago, so he's gonna be watching later on in the week.
posted by demiurge at 9:24 AM on July 22, 2007


Islamic Democracy like in Iran? Turkish Generals have restored democracy after their intervention - when did Mullahs in Iran ever give back any of their powers?

Give back to whom? The Shah? Iran today is much more democratic then it was under the Shah.
posted by delmoi at 9:28 AM on July 22, 2007


If you want a decent read about what's going on between the Islamists and the secularists in Turkey, check out Snow by 2006 Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. Loooooon, but defintely worth a read.
posted by John of Michigan at 9:33 AM on July 22, 2007


Man, I suck. Snow is supposed to link here.
posted by John of Michigan at 9:33 AM on July 22, 2007


PS. Delmoi is correct, too. I lived in Iran under the Shah. Even Americans who worked at the embassy still had to worry about SAVAK.
posted by John of Michigan at 9:34 AM on July 22, 2007


"Iran today is much more democratic then it was under the Shah."

True. And Egypt under Mubarak is more democratic then under the Pharaohs? I am sure the Iranians and Egyptions don't know how lucky they are ... stonings in Iraq has made some progress like only not stoning underage offenders anymore ...

Seriously: Turkish democracy isn't perfect, but it's in a better state then Iran or Egypt or Libanon. And there is a lot to be done to make it better for the people ... although there are a few turkish ladies flying jet planes or running businesses - they hardly have any seats on parliment and women's rights (although granted by the law) are in every day lived much reduced.
posted by homodigitalis at 9:36 AM on July 22, 2007


@srboisvert: Yeah sure.

Islamic Democracy like in Iran? Turkish Generals have restored democracy after their intervention - when did Mullahs in Iran ever give back any of their powers?


Is that a comeback? Turkish Generals have restored democracy! Hurrah! Tell me who it was who over turned democracy with a coup again? Oh right. The Turkish Generals. They have had 4 military coups since 1960 and they have a military that openly threatens more.

So has the Turkish military ever really relinquished control? I suppose we will see.

Curiously, the country you hate, Iran, has at least as democratic a government as Turkey, with an elected president and an elected legislature and has seen shifts from conservative to reformists and back again. The undemocratic part is that the candidates are screened beforehand by the religious rulers whereas in Turkey the candidates are screened afterward in the to-coup or not decision of the military.
posted by srboisvert at 9:41 AM on July 22, 2007


The average American doesn't even know what "secular" means.

This thread only proves that it's possible to insert gratuitous America/American bashing can somehow be inserted into any non-relevant topic. Why not "The average Brit doesn't even know what "secular" means." or "The average Australian doesn't even know what "secular" means."

I'm as liberal as the rest of you, but this shit is getting old. Gratuitous America and American-bashing is becoming the most tedious and predictable form of wit on MeFi. Give it a rest, okay? Save the America-bashing for the times when it's truly deserving of it, not for EVERYTHING.

Now, let's talk Turkey.
posted by elmwood at 9:48 AM on July 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


elmwood, here is a definition of secular for you. Sorry to leave you uninformed.
posted by Brian B. at 9:57 AM on July 22, 2007


@srboisvert: Yeah sure - part II.

Sorry, you are wrong Sir!

As a free and democratic country Turkey trumps Iran.

Although Iran is a much richer country more people are poorer and unemploymen rate is higher. The economy is down.

Both countries have problems with freedom of speech, but Turkey again is certainly the more democratic and free society.

How about religious freedom? Once again Turkey also has it's problems (with it's christian minority), but it's has a secular constitution. How about Iran Sir?

The turkish general had and still have a lot of power - which goes back to the cold war, when Turkey was in important base for the US / NATO. Germany sold the turkish army tanks and other gadgets which have been used to supress the Kurds.

I don't hate Iran - I think the Persians (like the Turks) had great cultures and where both on their way to better societies.

Iran got fucked up by the Shah (read American and British intervention). Hopefully they will be another revolution sometime - to a democratic regime. Most Iranians are just as secular or moderate believers as in most western countries.

Atatürks Reforms were highly modern at it's days - and still they would be challenging for many middle eastern countries. And many of his ideas are still not deeply rooted in turkish society (like women's rights).

In Iran the Supreme Leader is still the ruler of Iran - and he is elected by Mullahs and not by the people.
posted by homodigitalis at 9:58 AM on July 22, 2007


The average American doesn't even know what "secular" means.

Well, it's one of those words that means different things depending on where you stand. America doesn't even enter into the issue.
posted by kittyprecious at 9:59 AM on July 22, 2007


Please tell me that people aren't actually arguing over whether Iran or Turkey is more democratic. Knowing this is covered extensively in Paying Attention 101. Perhaps the joke is on Ataturk.
posted by billysumday at 10:01 AM on July 22, 2007


The first results of the election are coming in.
posted by homodigitalis at 10:02 AM on July 22, 2007


I love the name "Ataturk." It sounds like a compliment: 'At a boy! 'At a Turk!
posted by papakwanz at 10:12 AM on July 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, it's one of those words that means different things depending on where you stand. America doesn't even enter into the issue.

Really?
posted by Brian B. at 10:12 AM on July 22, 2007


psst - Brian B: I think you're confused; Fark is here. Take your trite one-liner trollery there, you'll do much better.
posted by AV at 10:36 AM on July 22, 2007


argh. fark is not there. an article I wanted to link to an askme thread is there. fark is here and I am going to go now...
posted by AV at 10:38 AM on July 22, 2007


Islam or Democracy isn't the dichotomy.

Actually that would depend on your understanding of "Islam".

If you believe that Islam is just a religion where people gather to pray together and receive spiritual guidance, and then everybody goes home, then you are right.
Unfortunately, Islam as it is practiced throughout a large part of the world is not merely a religion in the sense that we understand it, but claims to be a self-contained system of rules for governing every aspect of society, including law and politics.

According to this more stringent interpretation of Islam, some of these rules come directly from God and may not be tampered with, even if 80% of the people think that they should be changed. Hence, this interpretation of Islam is incompatible with democracy. An example of this is the theocracy currently ruling Iran.
posted by sour cream at 10:39 AM on July 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ceiling Cat is also watching you mass Turk debate.
posted by casarkos at 11:10 AM on July 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


Really?

Yes, American secularism is really not a principal issue in the Turkish election.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:14 AM on July 22, 2007


Islam as it is practiced throughout a large part of the world is not merely a religion in the sense that we understand it, but claims to be a self-contained system of rules for governing every aspect of society, including law and politics.


I think this is a very important point, but it isn't unique to Islam. Any religion, when it becomes a political philosophy, is incompatable with democracy. Clerics will always claim that their authority is of a higher provenance than any secular principle, like the rule of law. When people who claim absolute and divine authority are given the power of the state, it will always lead to tyranny.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:34 AM on July 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Precisely, [ed], and this is why the separation of church and state is so important. Ataturk apparently understood this and thanks to him, Turkey is today the most modern country with a predominantly Muslim population.
posted by sour cream at 12:04 PM on July 22, 2007


Yes, American secularism is really not a principal issue in the Turkish election.

So then why did you link French and Indian secularism? Regardless, American understanding of what secularism refers to applies to anything written in English about Turkey's elections. Furthermore, if we understood it better we wouldn't be so eager to fan the flames of anti-secularism abroad.
posted by Brian B. at 12:15 PM on July 22, 2007




Some of Ataturk's reforms, such as women's sufferage, would have been been revolutionary in most countries at that time.

Others would be revolutionary even today, such as the abolishment of religious schools.
posted by Rictic at 5:31 PM on July 22, 2007


The problem in Turkey is this: the religious party have done more for women's rights and respected democracy more than the secularists/political-military elite.
posted by xpermanentx at 2:55 AM on July 23, 2007


Islamic Democracy like in Iran?

homodigitalis don't be a dumb ass.
posted by chunking express at 7:05 AM on July 23, 2007


@chunking express: Charming. And your point is?
posted by homodigitalis at 9:42 AM on July 23, 2007


My point was don't be a dumb ass. Islam and Democracy aren't at odds with one another. Being an Islamic party isn't bad in and of itself. What exactly has the AK party done that is so egregious since taking office? It looks like the party appeals to the rural poor through the social policies it has put in place.

And I'm still not sure why you brought up Iran in the first place.
posted by chunking express at 10:27 AM on July 23, 2007


@chunking express: Let's make this a broader issue: Can religion be a part of any political party. Germany's currently leading party is called the CSU/CDU - which are christian democrats. So in that sense not different from islamic democratic parties in Turkey or Iran.

But does the CSU/CDU want to christian morals and religious rules into law. No. Do they aim to institute Christianity as the ultimate goal in government and society? No.

Can you say the same for many islamic parties?

There is also another 'problem' with religion bonding with the state or political party: everytime the prophet or whatever get's insulted by anyone/anywhere it becomes a political issue - sometimes whole nation go into confrontation mode. Remember the danish cartoons?

Europe fought many bloody religious wars to get rid of the influence of church, religious values and fanatics. Religious freedom is not only the freedom to practice any religion, but also to have total freedom from any religious influence, values and rules.
posted by homodigitalis at 5:19 PM on July 23, 2007


But does the CSU/CDU want to christian morals and religious rules into law. No. Do they aim to institute Christianity as the ultimate goal in government and society? No.

Are you sure?

Can you say the same for many islamic parties?

I have no clue. And I'm sorry, but you still haven't actually said what the AK Party has done that should have people worried. I get that you don't like them, but that doesn't actually mean they are a bad political party. I'm not from Turkey, but everything I've read about them suggests they haven't done anything yet to force Islam on anyone. I've really only read pretty good things about them.

Arguing that Islamic Parties are bad -- just cuz -- isn't all too convincing. There are plenty of examples where ruling Islamists have done bad things, but I'm not sure the AK Party should be compared to such groups. It hasn't done anything yet to warrant such comparisons.

everytime the prophet or whatever get's insulted by anyone/anywhere it becomes a political issue - sometimes whole nation go into confrontation mode.

This can happen irrespective of the political party in power. You just need some people to get the masses riled up.

Really, if you just don't like Muslims or something, you should say so.
posted by chunking express at 6:49 AM on July 24, 2007


"Really, if you just don't like Muslims or something, you should say so."

So you are playing the rhetorical racist card. Sorry, that doesn't compute.

I specifically made this an issue about religion and politics - which is IMHO the core problem - in my last posting.

If you are so obsessed with muslim degradation may I ask if you are muslim yourself or simply someone who doesn't understand the difference between secular relativ systems of laws and religious absolute systems of rules and eteneral 'truths'? Or maybe booth?
posted by homodigitalis at 8:25 AM on July 24, 2007


I asked because you look to be griping about a party whose only crime is being comprised of religious people. (Also not liking Muslims wouldn't make you a racist. That doesn't make any sense.)

As far as I can tell there if there is an issue between religion and politics right now in Turkey it is because the secular parties are losing elections, not because the religious parties are trying to indoctrinate the masses to the wonders of Islam.

What has the AK Party done that should make people look at them as anything but another democratically elected party? Maybe you are right and people need to worry, but nothing you have posted here suggests that this is the case. And I've asked several times now for examples of the party being particularly devious and you have yet to offer anything up.
posted by chunking express at 8:47 AM on July 24, 2007


Oh and I'm not a Muslim, though I'm not sure why that matters one way or another.
posted by chunking express at 8:51 AM on July 24, 2007


Sorry, I am not gonna waste anymore time on this.

If you don't understand my underlying issue of the difference between secular relativ systems of laws and religious absolute systems of rules and eteneral 'truths' ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASqJAT1W3r0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPAC_cGVnUg
posted by homodigitalis at 2:05 PM on July 24, 2007


Did you just link to a talking head on YouTube to make your point? Clearly one of us was wasting their time.
posted by chunking express at 4:07 PM on July 24, 2007


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