Παρασκευή, 14 Ιουνίου 2013

Emmett Robinson: What Turkey needs is a coup

What started out as a minor spark of protest over the proposed construction of a shopping mall in Istanbul has burst into flames of nationwide unrest in Turkey, and the fuel available to feed the fire has been building up, depending on how one measures it, for 10 years, or maybe closer to 100.  What Turkey needs now is what it has always needed, and has always had, in the past — a powerful check on the forces of reactionary Islam.
Modern Turkey arose from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire following the First World War. In its wake came a dynamic, visionary leader: Mustafa Kemal, later given the honorific title Atatürk, or “Father of the Turks.” By emphasizing the national identity of the Turkic people who populated the heartland of the former Islamic empire, Atatürk was able to unify the region, originally divided into post-war Allied occupation zones, to form the Turkish nation state.
National identity wasn’t the only principal upon which Atatürk built the new country. To him, the war had made the stifling, sclerotic nature of Ottoman society glaringly obvious. What Turkey needed, Atatürk concluded, was a completely remade, Westernized society. This meant developing an open society. Most importantly, it meant discarding the Islamic state and instituting liberal democratic reforms. The path to success for Turkey, Atatürk concluded, forked toward the liberal West rather than the Islamic East. Thus, under Atatürk, Turkey scrapped the Arabic alphabet in favour of the Latin. It abolished what remained of sharia law, adopted a legal code modeled after Switzerland’s and famously banned the fez in favour of Western-style headgear. Opposition parties were eventually allowed to form (though the earliest attempts were quashed). The franchise, and the right to be elected to parliament, was extended to women in the mid-1930s.

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