Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is today's Turkey tomorrow's America?

George Friedman has been writing a fascinating series of articles recently sharing his view and travels that he entitles, a "Geopolitical Journey."  Each article stands on its own but does cause you to want to read each of the others, as it places the current political climate of a number of of the eastern European and border states in context with each other, the world and, of course, individually.  I highly recommend taking the time to slowly read and assimilate the thoughts in each article...they are fascinating.  And the thoughtfulness put into the presentation by Friedman is to be both appreciated and savored.

Anyway, I digress...to my point...

Friedman's description of the current state of civil, political and religious life in Turkey is enough for a semester course in any University of note.  He cuts through so much pre-existing world views of what and who Turkey really is that you continually find yourself having, as I call them, "Ah-hah!" moments.  Enough light bulbs go off in the course of reading that you almost keep looking up for the camera's with the old-style flash-bulbs.

Turkey today is being challenged by a population that is an Islamic majority, with a government that is hugely populated by secularists that have the support of a strong military that also favors secular rule.  The current political party in power speaks earnestly of the value of and it's interest in preserving a secular government, while acknowledging the Islamic demand for more input in governance.  The Islamic drive for political power is a given in Turkey...the background of the Ottoman Empire is still a genetic part of the population that is in various phases of conflict with a secular government designed by Atatürk following the First World War to pull Turkey into the modern era.  It is this history of secular governing that causes most of us in the West with only cursory knowledge of the country to have until recently seen Turkey as a western Allie on our side against the other-aligned Arab states.

But here is the most interesting element...with a secular Government that excludes any active involvement of religion, Islamic or otherwise, Turkey is now suffering from unease as Muslims are now demanding that accommodation be made for their faith by the government. These are not extremists, these are your regular, normal practicing Muslims that follow the Qur'an and the Prophet's teaching which include striving for political power.

There is unease particularly among young secular Turks, who do not want to be governed by religious tenets with which they do not agree.  And the current government, while elected with Islamic votes, has continually striven to re-assure the population that the government will not become Islamic and that Turkey will always remain a secularist modern society with all the individual freedoms that that promises.

Those in America who refer glowingly toe Islam as "the Religion of Peace," would do themselves a service by reading Mr. Friedman's article on today's Turkey with an eye to recognizing that the tensions in Turkey right now are likely to reappear in America in the future, as the Muslim population grows more and more rapidly and with it the demand for more and more accommodation for Islam in this country.

At some point there must be extensive, quiet discussion among reasonable people recognizing that there is conflict between Islam and secular government.  We in America will have to decide just what we can, should and will do about it.

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