Saturday, August 30, 2008

Turkish army chief warns against Islamization

When he says that the military will take seriously any attempt to undermine Turkey's secular principles and turn it into an Islamic state -- which does seem to be the ultimate goal of Prime Minister Erdogan and the ruling party -- will result in a military coup to protect the Kemalist order. It has happened before. "Turkish army chief warns of Islam," from PressTV, August 28 (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist):

Turkey's new military chief warns against what he calls a rising "religious lifestyle", highlighting secularist and AKP government tensions.

General Ilker Basbug, in a speech to an audience during a ceremony which he officially replaced former chief of military Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, said the military would take seriously any attempt to undermine Turkey's secular principles.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Gul attended the ceremony at the military headquarters without their wives who wear headscarves.

Basbug said part of the nation is concerned that a new culture and lifestyle heavily influenced by Islam was emerging in Turkey.

"A segment of society thinks that religion is given a great weight in an emerging new cultural identity and lifestyle, and is worried about this development," Basbug said as he took command of NATO's second-biggest army.

"This concern should be taken seriously. This is compulsory for social peace within the scope of a pluralistic democracy."

Turkey has a secular constitution and the military considers itself the ultimate guardian of the republic founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Hardline secularists, including the military and judges, accuse the AKP of harboring a hidden Islamist agenda by seeking to loosen restrictions on religion, such as its failed attempt to ease a ban on Muslim headscarves at universities. Erdogan and the AKP deny the convictions as illusions, but argue that Turks should be free to choose their way of life including what they wear....The staunch secular establishment bans female citizens from educational and government establishments if they cover their hair and use the headscarf.

Basbug said the military's constitutional role was to "protect and preserve the founding philosophy" of Ataturk, who banished religion from public life and introduced Western-style reforms.

Basbug appointment comes at a difficult time for the military that is known for having an untouchable status in Turkey and having ousted four elected governments since 1961. The army has lost influence in recent years amid social changes and as Turkey moves towards European integration and EU membership.

No comments: