Give Islamic Leaders of Turkey a Chance

Mahommed Ayoob, writing in the Turkish Daily News, believes opponents of the Erdogan Islamic government have attempted to cast the conflict as one between secularism and Islam. He argues the rise to power of an Islamic government in Turkey is tremendously symbolic because it offers the world a chance to examine democracy at work within the context of Islam. Ayoob believes the Erdogan, AKP, is a post Islamist government which is attempting to integrate the Muslim religion within the fabric of a democratic society.

The American press has jumped on the bandwagon of opposition to Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey because he represents a political party which is committed to an Islamic approach to government. According to Ayoob there are three elements of the ADP agenda: extension of democracy, economic liberalism of the marketplace and support for Turkish entry into the European Union. He believes these three elements threaten the Turkish military, which in its support of a secular state, views its role as supporting the concept of a centralized state, a conception of Turkish nationalism that does not permit ethnic or cultural differences and a definition of secularism that makes religion subservient to the State. They are leery of a free enterprise economic system and hesitate to support economic reforms.

I share Turkish fears of an Islamic government which might enforce Sharia laws, but also realize as of this point, there is no evidence Prime Minister Erdogan has taken any steps to impose a religious view on those with secular leanings. One might argue he is hiding the true nature of his Islamic beliefs, but in taking that approach one prevents the possibility of emerging that those who firmly support the Muslim religion can also believe in a democracy which allows secular views to be legal. I continue to witness failure on the part of those supporting a democratic conception of life in the Middle East to support forces who are devout believers in the Islamic faith, while at the same time supporting democracy.

Isn’t it ironic how people will support Israel as a “democracy” while ignoring that within the vibrant democracy of Israel is the presence of religious leaders who continually seek to impose their views not only on Jews, but on Muslims and Christians? Let me make it clear – Israel is a democracy, but it also contains religious components which are not found in American style democracy. Is it possible something similar can happen in a Muslim society?
Information from Turkish Daily News