Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Turkey, Islam and the modern world

David Warren has written a great column today, on the incompatibility of Islam and democracy. The example he uses is Turkey, which just voted in an "Islam-First" government. Turkey has always been the West's example of "good Islam" - a Muslim country that was able to assimilate to Western political ideas.

As Warren says, "there is every demographic and political indication that Turkey’s “secular” experiment is ending." It only got as far as it did because its democracy was imposed upon it by a strongman - Kemal Ataturk, who was willing to use force to defang Islam for the benefit of westernization. George W. Bush never had the intention or capability of doing the same to Iraq, trusting instead to pious maxims about freedom being the desire of every human heart. Like adding water to a packet of sea-monkey eggs, all one has to do is furnish a comfy environment, and Democratic Man will just automatically spring out, fully formed. This is why Iraq will never get even as far as Turkey did in becoming a rational democracy. Islam is the problem, and Islam was never combatted.

I have always wondered one thing about Ataturk. He was trying something that had never been done before - turning a Muslim tribal territory into a Western-style democracy. He had no precedents in the Muslim world to draw upon - his only precedents could have been the development of Church and State in the West, where a once-mighty ecclesiastical power was eventually subdued and withdrew from competition with the secular state. He must have thought that Islam could be tamed in the same way, and reduced to "companion" status with a secular state. I wonder, though, if he'd known that Islam would eventually regroup and regain its former strength, to ruin his modernizing project, would he have been more ruthless? Would he have destroyed Islam completely, instead of leaving it (as he thought) tamed and subordinate? Or would he have just acknowledged defeat from the start, and realized that there was no hope of westernizing his country?


Blogger The Bovina Bloviator said...

In yesterday's New York Sun, Hillel Halkin has an interesting piece offering persuasive evidence Kemal Ataturk's father was Jewish. That might explain his antipathy for Islam as well his western outlook regarding democracy. Halkin, like Warren, thinks it's over for secular democracy in Turkey. What a shame Ataturk didn't finish the job.

4:36 pm  
Blogger Scott said...

Ataturk played an important role in the Armenian Genocide, so we know he was ruthless enough to wipe out entire peoples.

5:23 pm  
Blogger Nicholodeon said...

Today's National Post (27 Jul 07) carries a front page article on VSN's having pulled Islamic religious programming because the cleric was going on and on about the Jews and so on.

Also arguing for support of terrorism either physically or financially.

The Pakistani sponsor of the program said he sponsored it because it presented Koranic teaching in English.

Free speech is a nice concept, but thank God some sane people remain who can limit free speech when it becomes counter-productive.

11:01 am  

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