The Bush administration usually holds Turkey up as an example of a functioning Muslim democracy. But how does Turkey feel about that?
"You toss aside an 80-year tradition for an experiment in political Islam
," a Turkish parliamentarian explained, citing Colin Powell's statement that Turkey is "a Muslim democracy living in peace with its friends and neighbors."
Powell's statement may have been well-meaning Washington-style political correctness, but it raised hackles in Turkey. "We are a democracy. Islam has nothing to do with it
," one professor said. "By calling us a Muslim democracy, Powell endorsed the [ruling] AKP [Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi]. If I called the United States a Christian democracy, what would that say to you?"Turkey has reason to worry.
"According to 1995 annual statistics released by Turkey's general directorate of religious affairs, between 1983 and 1995, enrollment in Turkey's religious schools increased 105 percent
. In 2005, experts expect 1, 215, 000 students to graduate after receiving on a religious curriculum. Turkey's religious schools have become hothouses for radicalism.
Off-the-beaten track, in places like Cizre, Mardin, Kayseri, and even the Fatih, Bayrampasha, and Sultanbeyli districts of Istanbul, women increasingly not only wear headscarves but also the head-to-toe black hijab characteristic of Saudi Arabia
. Bookstores around the Konya tomb of the prominent 13th century Sufi poet Jalal al-Din Rumi, a figure revered for preaching tolerance and love, now sell the teaching of the late 13th, early 14th century Islamic scholar Ahmad ibn Tamiya who laid the philosophical groundwork for the Islamic fundamentalism centuries later adopted by Saudi Arabia."Read the whole article
. Talking Turkey