If you have been reading this website for a while, you are familiar with what has been going on in Turkey recently and how it relates to the end of the Ottoman Empire. So please forgive me for repeating myself, but this is relevant to today’s events.
On 29 October 1923, the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a Turkish Army officer, was the first President of Turkey. His goal was to set up a secular state rather than an Islamic state. The Ottoman Empire, which Turkey had been part of, was an Islamic Caliphate. Ataturk was looking toward the future and felt that it was in Turkey’s best interests to become a secular state aligned with the West. Ataturk banned the growing of beards by men and the wearing of headscarves by women. He banned the call to prayer by muezzins, abolished the Turkish script and replaced it with the Latin alphabet. In response to the secularization of Turkey, Hassan al Banna founded the Ikhwan al-Muslimin, the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt with the goal of forming a new Islamic caliphate.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in office since 2014. From 2003 to 2014 he was the Prime Minister of Turkey. During his time as Prime Minister and during his time as President, he has attempted to move the country back to an Islamic state. He has purged military leaders that opposed him, and moved his diplomatic ties away from Israel and toward the Arab countries in the region. In June, the election in Turkey undermined his control of the nation and the direction in which he was going. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in parliament.
The article in the Wall Street Journal states:
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the snap election on Monday but didn’t set a date.
On Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan tasked his handpicked successor Ahmet Davutoglu with heading an interim administration. Mr. Davutoglu heads the biggest bloc in parliament, the Justice and Development Party or AKP. He will run the government through the vote and until the next national assembly is seated.
In the last election in June, voters delivered Turkey’s first hung parliament since 2002. Following two months of fruitless coalition talks, Mr. Davutoglu failed to form a government.
Mr. Erdogan then broke with political custom and refused to offer the main opposition party the chance to cobble together its own coalition.
The Wall Street Journal editorial states:
Now Mr. Erdogan seems to hope that an electoral do-over will flip enough marginal seats back to the AKP to restore the party’s simple majority. Politicians in parliamentary democracies often resort to such a tactic, sometimes to good effect. But Mr. Erdogan’s bad faith since his June defeat suggests this is another attempted power grab. The same goes for his efforts to demonize, falsely, the HDP as the political arm of militant Kurdish separatists who have been staging terror attacks inside the country.
All of this is happening as Ankara finally seems to have gotten serious about the Islamic State menace. In the meantime, Turkey’s economy is faltering and peace talks with Kurdish separatists have collapsed. Turkey could use a leader capable of taking his electoral lumps and working within the parliamentary system. Too bad Mr. Erdogan is mainly interested in boosting his own power.
Turkey never really reached its goal of a totally secular state. A friend of mine who worked with a Christian church in Turkey a few years ago told me that it would have been unwise to put a sign in front of the church designating it as a Christian church. Theoretically there was freedom of religion, but it was also suggested that Christians keep their heads down.
We have to find our allies where we can in the Middle East, but we need to remember that the only Middle Eastern country that truly practices freedom of religion is Israel. Israel is the only ally that we can actually count on in that region of the world.