Turkey has plunged into a political crisis after the army threatened to intervene against the Islamic-rooted government and up to a million people staged an anti-government rally in Istanbul. Turkish financial markets tumbled and the European Union and the United States called for a democratic resolution to the crisis. Some European commentators said the incident indicated that Turkey was proving itself unsuitable for accession to the European Union.
Secularists fear that Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul want to erode Turkey’s strict separation of state and religion. Many protestors accused the government of planning to establish an Islamic state and criticized it for failing to consult the opposition over its choice for president. Turkey’s army, which has toppled three governments since 1960, warned it may not allow a candidate with Islamic roots to be president.
Information from Der Spiegel, Germany
The current political and constitutional drama in Turkey is of interest to people in the Middle East who wonder if this region can ever become truly democratic, stable and prosperous at the same time. The answer is, of course it can, if it applies certain principles that combine universal values of democracy with distinct local identities and national traditions. The Turkish experience these days captures many of the pertinent core issues and variables; the role of the armed forces, the balance between religiosity and secularism, the enforcement of constitutional ethics, the power of public opinion, and the power of political parties and elected parliaments.
Turkey is still a young and sometimes erratic democracy, a staunchly secular state with powerful Islamic sentiments defining many of its people, and something of a Middle East peculiarity in which the army plays a major role in national governance. Nearly a million people demonstrated for the secular tradition while the army top brass issued not so veiled warnings that it would not hesitate to step in an prevent the state from being dominated by Islamists. The impressive commitment by all to the letter and spirit of the law and the Constitution to resolve a really serious political dispute is a tremendously important reminder of a phenomena that still entices but eludes the Arab world.
Information from Lebanon Daily Star
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan is calling for snap elections and condemned a constitutional court ruling that annulled a recent presidential vote as a “bullet fired at democracy.” Erdogan insisted his party was committed to secularism. He also urged respect for differences in an apparent reference to objections raised against foreign minister Gul’s wife who wears a headscarf. Many secularists claim her desire to wear this head covering is a threat to the Turkish secular state.
Infrormation from Iran Daily
Turkey, the world’s prime example of a modern secular democratic state may be losing that status. For the first time a member of an Islamic party stands poised to win the presidency. While Turkey has twice had a prime minister from an Islamic party, the position of the president is regarded as a bulwark of the secular system. The president plays an important role in Turkey. He appoints the prime minister, the military chief of staff, university rectors, and members of the country’s highest court. The other institution safeguarding the status quo of a secular state in the Turkish army.
Information from The Jerusalem Post
Turkey seemed headed for early general elections after its top court annulled a parliamentary vote for a new president that has sparked a crisis between the Islamist-rooted government and the army. The AKP will seek an early election but the current outgoing president Ahmet Necdet Sezer’s mandate expires on May 16. He is a secularist who has opposed extension of Islamic ideas on the Turkish people. Analysts say early elections might help the AKP save face and demonstrate it will not back down to army and judicial views. The national currency, the Lire, gained 3% after the court ruling was made public. Investors fear election of an Islamic president might jeopardize five years of political stability claimed Saruhan Dogan, chief economist of Finansbank.
Information from Jordan Times
In a decision that will force early elections, the Constitutional Court ruled that quorum rules used in the nomination of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is “against the constitution.” The ruling turns on parliamentary rules which require a vote of 367 to forward the presidential nomination, but this was not attained. The ruling AKP is exploring alternative ways to respond to the court’s decision. ASK officials believe in the end they will win the hearts of Turkish people despite interference by the military and the judiciary.
Information from Turkish Daily News
Gaurav Singh, “a proud turban-wearing Sikh” says he was looking forward to a fun night on the town with friends on the weekend but was refused entry to a Richmond Hill restaurant (in Toronto) because of his religious headgear. Singh’s friends posted a letter detailing the incident on Facebook which inadvertently launched an international campaign of support with hundreds of online responses from places as faraway as India, England and the United States. Singh wrote to the restaurant: “What occurred… was something I have never experienced in my 25 years in North America. I have traveled across the globe and I am sad to admit that the only location I have ever received such treatment was the county where I am a proud citizen of.” Neither Mr. Singh nor the Toronto Star received responses from the restaurant to their inquiries.
Information from The Toronto Star
I wonder if the restaurant bars religious Jews or a Cardinal of the Catholic Church who sometimes wears headgear. I am still befuddled at why people get so upset at what is on the top of our heads.
I’ve always had the highest respect for Senator John McCain, despite disagreeing with most of his social and political views. He often reminded me of Senator Barry Goldwater, whose political philosophy was diametrically opposed to my own. Goldwater was the type of person who openly and bluntly expressed himself regardless of what voters thought about his comments. He believed one should speak his mind in the marketplace of ideas and allow the American people to select from among a variety of opinions. He never hesitated to say something because it would cost votes. In fact, many observers believed he’d rather lose a vote than cater to public opinion.
Where have you gone Senator Goldwater now that your party and nation needs your honesty? For a moment, many believed John McCain personified Goldwater’s commitment to honesty in politics. Many believed McCain would stand against Bush’s ideas on torture and violation of the Geneva Convention. It is now quite clear McCain is no Goldwater. Barry Goldwater would rather be right than be president. John McCain will kiss anyone’s ass in order to become president. Goldwater loved and respected the Constitution; McCain will sell out his beliefs in the Constitution to gain votes.
How could can individual whose body endured terrible treatment at the hands of North Vietnam captors who lacked respect for the Geneva Convention support Bush’s blatant violation of Geneva Convention provisions that protect the dignity of men captured in battle? I am certain during the horrendous hours being brutalized, McCain wished his captors would support ideals of the Geneva Convention. John McCain might argue he tried to mitigate the severity of Bush’s “alternative interrogation techniques,” but either we have rules or we don’t. McCain is ready to play the “torture card” just like Republicans have played the “race card” for thirty years.
McCain’s recent behavior only adds to the disrespect for himself that is emerging. One does not run for the presidency and make jokes about bombing nations. Funny songs belong at a fraternity party, not on a campaign trail. We have always known right wing Republicans will say or do anything in order to win an election. We thought better of you Senator McCain. Now it is quite clear you will abandon any principle or moral value in order to win the presidency.
There is a scene in the George Bernard Shaw play, “Major Barbara,” in which Salvation Army leaders accept money from liquor interest and arm manufacturers on grounds that the better good is served by receiving money from men who oppose every Salvation Army value. A cynical character in the play quietly asks Salvation Army leaders, “What price salvation now, what price salvation?” Senator McCain, is it worth selling your soul to become president? One last question, Senator McCain, “What would Barry Goldwater have told George Bush about his idea to abandon the Geneva Convention?” Ah yes, Senator McCain, what price salvation now?
Cardinal Janis Pujats, head of the Latvian Catholic Church recently attacked members of Parliament who proposed legislation that would offer protection to gays. The Cardinal is upset at laws that would foster tolerance and respect for the dignity of gays or any other sexual minority.
Information from Baltic Times
I can never comprehend how a leader of any religious group could preach hatred toward humans. My mind is disjointed when I read such stuff from a church leader. But, then again, if one studies the Holocaust it is all too apparent how many church leaders simply ignore human brutality as they preach in church about love of Jesus Christ. I am 100% convinced Jesus was on the side of ALL humans.
Justice Gina Camillieri of Malta ordered marriage bans for a person who was born as a man but who had his sex switched by a surgical procedure. Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Bonnici agreed to enforce the judge’s decision.