Throughout the 20th century, Turkish governments repeatedly attempted to suppress the culture and rights of its Kurdish minority. The teaching of Kurdish in schools was restricted and being a Kurd was a detriment in employment or government work. Ironically, the fundamentalist Justice and Development Party led by Prime Minislter Erdogan and President Gul have shifted the government’s position towards one in which Kurdish culture and language are being supported and encouraged. There is even discussion about requiring knowledge of the Kurdish language of civil servants working in mainly Kurdish areas of Turkey. Historically, Turkey used military force to quell separatist militants, but now there has been a shift to political, economic and social factors as a way to win over the Kurdish population. The evidence is clear the new approach is working and fewer and fewer Kurds are urging a separate nation. The Justice and Development Party is now garnering a large sector of the Kurdish vote despite its strong Muslim connections.
Turkey displays to the world a prime example of a Muslim led government that is democratic and able to work with various groups in the quest for peace. It respects both secularism and the rights of minorities.