Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bullheaded Turkish PM wants to lift ban on headscarves again

Turkey at the borders of the Islamic world is in constant conflict over the 'threat' of Islamization versus secularism. And there ~ unlike here ~ there is no pretence about it. Erdogan was dragged into court for trying to Islamize the country. Ideas about being nice to Muslims ~ reaching out ~ understanding Islam more ~ are all rubbish ~ they are all Muslims ~ but some want to live as they choose and others want the law issue Islamic punishments and place restrictions on all freedoms deemed un-Islamic. The Turkish understand this distinction its about time we stopped pretending like it isn't real.

Erdogan ~ has apparently struck a deal with the Iranians to help him fight a third term. They are donating $25 million to his AKP party.

If re-elected ~ Erdogan plans to change the constitution ~ something he has described as a rag with holes in it.

The official US position is that Turkey join the EU ~ perhaps Europe could send them a Turkey!!



ISTANBUL: Turkey’s prime minister said on Wednesday a law that prohibits women wearing the Muslim headscarf at universities was against freedom of belief, in his strongest hint yet the AK Party might try again to lift the ban.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court struck down an attempt by the ruling AK Party to remove the ban in 2008. But after voters approved constitutional changes in September to overhaul the court, AK Party officials have put the sensitive issue back on the government’s agenda.

“We agree with society on the headscarf issue,” Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech to university students in Istanbul, which was broadcast live.

“We do not want to disappoint our youth. There is no sense in being so interventionist in freedom of belief and education anymore,” Erdogan said.

His comments come before a election that will herald a new constitution if his party wins.

Wearing the Muslim headscarf is a touchy issue in EU candidate Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim country with a strictly secular constitution.

Headscarves are not permitted at public universities and civil servants are banned from wearing them at work. Religious-minded Turks say the ban is a violation of their individual rights; secularist Turks say it is needed to defend the secularist republic founded by Kemal Ataturk in 1923.

After winning a September 12 referendum on constitutional reforms, Erdogan declared plans for a brand new constitution after elections that are due by July 2011.

The AK Party, which has roots in political Islam and has evolved from banned Islamist parties, is deeply mistrusted by rivals, who suspect it of using liberal reforms as a cover to roll back the republic’s secularism.

The pro-business party, elected in 2002, sees itself as akin to Europe’s conservative social democrat parties, and accuses opponents of scare-mongering.

The referendum victory in September has boosted Erdogan’s chances of winning the election, when the AKP will seek a third consecutive term of single-party rule.

Rivals fear an emboldened AKP will push legislation to please its conservative power base in the religious heartland and that their secular lifestyle is under threat.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the new leader of the staunchly secular opposition Republican People’s Party, has said he is willing to discuss the issue of the headscarf and also that his party is ready to start collaborating on a new constitution.

In related news, a former Turkish police chief was held in an Istanbul jail on Wednesday on charges of links to a leftist rebel group, state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

A court ordered that Hanefi Avci, former chief of police in the western city of Eskisehir, be remanded in custody after being detained on Tuesday in an investigation into the Revolutionary Headquarters group blamed for attacks on state targets.

Avci leapt to prominence in the Turkish media in recent weeks over a book in which he alleges that members of an Islamic movement run by preacher Fethullah Gulen had infiltrated the police and courts.

The book also argues there is a lack of evidence to justify the trial of alleged members of a clandestine group known as Ergenekon which is accused of plotting to overthrow Erdogan’s government.

(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

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