musings on travel, international living, development aid, politics, turkey (the country more than the meat) and anything else that comes to mind...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Turkey's president doesn't think his party is religious... seriously?

“Turkey does not have religious parties,” Anatolia news agency quoted [Gül] as saying. - Hurriyet Daily News, March 15, 2012
Turkey's president, Abdullah Gül, is often overshadowed by his master colleague the prime minister. Every once in a while, though, he gets up on that ever-so-high horse and pontificates at Turkey's 'Muslim brothers'.

This article in the Hurriyet Daily News (one of a couple English language dailies) about his current trip to Tunisia actually started off very well:
Turkish President Abdullah Gül has warned Muslim countries against seeking religious-based politics... 

Excellent. Well said sir. Bravo.
...saying parties that promise such rule would ultimately harm the faith.

So instead of saying that religious-based politics is, for example, bad for politics, the country, progress, etc... he's more concerned about it's impact on Islam should overtly religious politicians fail. Then he goes on to say that Turkey does not have religious parties... I'm not even sure where to start on that one. Is this an Onion article or something?

As much as I snark, there is a silver lining to this. Turkey's current political elite know how much of an influence they now have regionally; not only politically but culturally. Turkey is held up as the 'model' of how Islamist (or 'mildly Islamist' as the Economist would say) politicians can allegedly coexist with a western-style democracy. I don't agree with the reason behind Gül's statements (that Islamic politics harms Islam), but I do think that there is some benefit in the prescription itself (that majority Islamic countries should have secular governments). You win some and you lose some I guess...

On the bright side, Gül did say some things on his Tunisia trip that (if I remove all inner cynicism and mistrust over what he probably actually means...) I can get behind:
Gül also advised Muslim countries to adopt democracy, accountability and transparency, saying democracy and Islam did not contradict each other.
I agree. Islam and democracy do not inherently contradict one another. Especially when they're not mixed together.