America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

America's #1 Balance Bike Destination
America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

30 April 2007

Abdullah Gul for President? Will the Army intervene?

The hand of a protester casts a shadow on a Turkish flag during a rally to oppose the ruling AK Party's presidential candidate in Istanbul April 29, 2007. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul refused on Sunday to withdraw from Turkey's presidential vote, ignoring pressure from the army and calls from tens of thousands of demonstrators worried about his Islamist past. (TURKEY)  
REUTERS/Osman Orsal


Ozge Can said...

I was deeply worried about Turkey for a very long time. I was worried that the Islamist, fundemantalists were gaining more and more power and pulling the average person to the Islamist side faster every passing day. It was hard not to notice the increase in the percentage of covered women on the streets of Ankara. It was as if "they want this" and "they want that" and there is no "other side" from within the people who are really worried about this shift like I am. It was as if only the army and the generals are opposing this shift and defending the secularism on their own. However... April 29, is a big day in the history of secular revolution of Turkey. I'm watching the videos and people who knows Istanbul better than me says there is at least 1 million people considering the size of the meeting area and that not only the area itself, all the roads of at least 3 miles long entering the area are locked and fully filled. The people are chanting that the revolution is not complete, that the army is not alone, that they are against the backward shift in the society. They are against the governing party who is "using democracy" and the thousand year old "religion" trick to actually create an easily contrallable society and a country which would serve the whatever mission that the "big boss" wants.. (these religion abusers in Turkey are actually a product of cold war, the war against communism..)

19 of the 20 members of organizing committee are women. And at least two thirds of the people in the meeting are women, these are old and young and middle aged women from all backgrounds, from professors to housewifes, women like my mother-in-law who resists going to the market most of the time due to her knee problems and yet she is in the meeting...:) This big event marks the day that Turkey's transformation from a religious conservative society to a modern democratic one has gained a tremendous momentum on seeing the danger of losing "everything" especially for women after a period of about 30 years of going backwards first slowly and recently increadibly fast.

It's very difficult for people, who have been raised in secular countries where there is no immediate threat to the regime, to understand the dynamics of a society with literally two types of people: first type is ready to turn into a religous ignorant molla in matter of days and stop sending his daugters to school and start beating his wife, the second type is secular though religous, such a father would never think of treating daughters differently from sons. From the sight of April 29 meeting it looks like at least women, religous or not, are appreciating the secularism and see the current government as a serious threat to their independence and freedom in addition to the independence and freedom of the nation. I salute Turkey's women with great pride...

It looks like Turkey's internal dynamics are gaining more and more strength to defend secularism, although "the army" is still undeniably important till there is noone left to defend the regime from, like in America where the "average" person is trully secular. Then maybe the army can really be just an army. But Turkey is unfortunately nowhere near that. I'm more hopeful that we're going in the right direction as a society but I'm not stupid to side yet with anti militarist romantic "democrats" who are against all sorts of militarist means of protections in Turkey. If it is needed the army should and will interfere, like it is doing in this presedential election, till the great founder Mustafa Kemal's revolution is complete.

Murat Altinbasak said...

Thank you Ozge! That's what I call a contribution. Excellent.

Metin said...

Dear Ozge:

I wonder how many millions will march once the arrogant and 'secular elite' versus the poor and 'scary islamists' versus democracy battle is fought after the polarization starts, the tolerance and compromise ends, and the fundamentalization of secularism becomes the weapon, using the protectors, better known as the military, with which provocateurs do their damage. Unfortunately in this battle, both sides are 'Muslim.'

But . . . the damage has been done. And . . .

"The whole world is witnessing that there is no such thing as 'moderate' or 'tolerable' Islam. The recent events in Turkey, a democratic and 'secular' (by definition via Ataturk,) yet a Muslim country (a contradiction perhaps?) have proven my point. It's OK to be a Muslim so long as you don't practice it, at least within the political spectra.

No matter what your political affiliation, you will agree that unfortunately, the positive reforms and results that have been accomplished over the past five years, at least from a global perspective, (even if not realized or appreciated by the Turks in Turkey,) have been erased quickly over the past week.

Now the whole world can see clearly that there is no such thing as 'moderate' Islam. Heck, even the ones subscribing to it have a problem with owning it!"

Metin said...

By the way, my prediction is that 'doomsday' in Turkey will occur before any (as you stated,) "the great founder Mustafa Kemal's revolution is complete," whatever that 'means!'

It's time to stop the 'nationalism' agenda and get ready to embrace globalization, even at the expense making amends with the 'real' Islam within the democratic arena. Otherwise, it will be a dark day for Turkey as it has to choose (soon) between its religion vs. its survival.

Anonymous said...

Metin, you are a disgrace...You are so cliche and narrow minded. Get rid of your inferiority complex and get on with life....

Metin said...

Will the real 'anonymous' stand up and identify her r himself? Disgrace is a word used when one looks in the mirror and sees anonymous written all over it.

However, getting back to the topic, I reiterate my earlier calls for 'Turkey' to get rid of its inferiority complex and trying to solve every problem via the path to Ataturk. Time to find a new role model and maybe for Turkey to move on with her life instead of clinging on to its 'glorious' past (but with a 'disgraceful' present, in the eyes of 'some.')

Sean said...

Isn't it funny that the Turks that accuse the Armenians of dwelling on the past and not living in the present are the same ones that bring up Ataturk every chance they get?

Gulay said...

One thing that really bugs me about alot of the reporting on Turkey is that the BBC, CNN et al and even many people on the blog refer to Turkey as a Muslim country. I prefer to say that Turkey is a country with a secular rule of law, parliamentary democracy of a sort where the majority of the population is registered as a Muslim. I mean how many people refer to Italy as a Roman Catholic country????

As for Ataturks revolution, who know's when or where it will end, I don't think even he did. He was an incredible person who challenged and dictated because he held a passionate belief and its such a shame that those that followed him failed to build on his legacy.

Whilst I applaud those who exercised their right to freedom of expression in these marches what is depressing is that their complaints are directed at the wrong people. I blame the people who introduced the rules that prohibit a party with less than 10% of the vote being allowed into Parliament. What was used for years to reduce the possibility of the more radical elements in Turkish politics slipping in effectively gives the AK Party the massive majority they have with only 30% of the vote. Good going guys!

Metin said...

Gulay, I agree with you about the 'Muslim' country comment about Turkey.

But the reality is the entire world is starving, and actually championing, including the 'moderate' and 'secular' Muslims, for a 'role model' that they can point to as all of Islam ain't that bad.

In that light, I've myself admittedly 'allowed' such references about Turkey. Because it served the overall purpose. However, I do agree with you that Turkey is not an Islamic country.

But now Turkey is even challenging whether Islam can play a role in politics. And if not, does that constitute a 'restriction' of some kind against the so-called 'democracy.'

That's the true debate I believe in. I dismiss all others who want to use the current instability to provoke Islam vs. Secular battleground within a predominantly 'Muslim' country, even if we were to debate whether 'Turkish' Islam is a unique form of 'practicing' the 'reformed' Islam, or the one that should be perceived as Islam, instead of the fundamenalist and radical terrorist Islam more often than not portrayed by the West, justifiably so.

Metin said...

Sean, I do agree with you wholeheartedly that regardless of whether one is an Armenian or Turk, one should 'let go' of the past and 'prepare' for the future, quickly becoming the 'new' past while we argue about the 'old' past.

Sean said...

Metin, I didn't say that. I was just pointing out that the Turks also look at their past often, just like Armenians and others.

When the past is as tragic as the one Armenians have experienced, there won't be any moving on until justice has been served. No matter how long it takes.

Just look at the families of victims of crimes around the world. Even when the perpetrator is brought to justice, it's hard to "move on", however, it's impossible to "move on" when that hasn't happened. I don't care what the victim's nationality. I am sure many Turks would agree with my statement, if they have been victims of a brutal crime.

There is no "moving on" on the Armenian Genocide until Turkey apologies. That's when the healing can start. Not a minute sooner.

Gulay said...

Metin, I have to say that I understand fully what are you are saying about the twisting of the current situation. I was appalled by the BBC which had a "Have you say" on Islam vs secular for Turkey and even more appalled by some f the ignorant waffle. It is such a gross oversimplification.

On the issue of Islam or, if I may broaden it, religion in politics may I say this, and this is an argument I am still shaping so I not sure it is fully formed yet. We talk about separation of state (politics) and religion and yet a large percentage of the worlds population are controlled by rules/laws and social mores, customs and political systems that from what I can understand have their roots in the Judaeo/Christian "heritage" if I can call it that. The influence of the Catholic church and later the Protestant church on shaping the environments under which many of the legal and political systems of the western world cannot be underetsimated. Paradoxically the US which started as a haven for religious refugees is now seen as one the keenest countries to separate religion and state and yet without religion the Pilgrim Fathers would have been unlikley to have sailed there!!! Its kind of ironic that in the US you cannot have "nativity scenes" on state premises but the state only allows marriage to represent a union that is essentially a J/C concept and resits all efforts to redefine it. What I find interesting in the debate about Turkey is that a country where 99% of the population is registered as a Muslim is controlled by a set of of laws and regulations that are based on the J/C heritage that exists in the rest of the world. I'm rambling a bit now but is there some form of dichotomy or paradigm here. I mean how can one question whether a system is secular when a party that has its roots in political Islam provides the PM and controls a country whose constitution and legal system is based on J/C principles, how much more secular can you be.

Does any of that make sense or did I digress...

Metin said...

Gulay, I agree with your overall point. The gray area between religion and religiousness and the integration vs assimilation of it into daily lives of people who are supposed to act independently is tough. But is there anything wrong with that?

It's the fundamentalism of secularism (or religion) that I do not like. But I do like to defend the rights of individuals and their rights to practice their beliefs (of course without preaching the choir to others who don't follow their philosophies.)

Metin said...


Healing will start when the 'offended' will accept the brutal reality of forgiveness, instead of asking for compassion and feeling sorry for themselves.

And I think the Turks have done just that about the Turkish claims of Armenian Genocide against the Turks, no matter how crazy you may think that is. But the reverse reciprocity haven't happened (yet.) Maybe forgive but not forget can be learnt from the Jews.

But I am not sure who the offended is in this case. It may be the millions of people who are neither Armenians or Turks who might have other worries that occupy their current agenda nowadays.

Did anyone notice gas is almost $4 a gallon. And I thought going into Iraq was going to lower the costs of filling up my car. Guess not!

You see Sean, sometimes things appear closer than they really are. And other things do not make sense no matter how hard you try to warn us.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Gulay is slowly waking up, and recognising certain facts about West.. What do you expect from BBC? They are the biggest broadcasting establishment that is run by public money, totally seving to the certain quarters.. Goodmorning...
But poor Metin, best not to wake him up, before him go go...

Gulay said...

anonymous, as far as I am concerned the BBC is one of the best and generally most unbiased news agencies out there. Yes it is funded by public money but unlike alot of other publicly funded broadcasters is to a very high degree free of interference from the Government which is why I was upset by its oversimplification of the issues being discussed. I contacted them and have been "chatting" with their journalist about this, will it have any affect lets see. As for the west, I live in the US and am married to a Brit and consider myself western and do not buy into the west/Islam paranoia

Sean said...

Every media report has some bias factor in it. That's why I use Google News to read the different prospectives from around the world on issues important to me. This is the best way to get a complete picture.

Anonymous said...


Gulay said...

the BBC is free to use as is google news so your point is.....but really sex sells even better

Anonymous said...

'anonymous, as far as I am concerned the BBC is one of the best and generally most unbiased news agencies out there.'
I bet you do, dear..
I knew anyway that's what you thought when I post that. I also knew you are the type, that would compare bbc with others and praise it.
I'm sure they will apologize you about their bias and will correct the information since you've been "chatting" with their journalist...
Oh dear, oh dear... Naivity beyond boundaries.. What can I say?
I really do not care where you live and who you married to.. I'm sure you consider yourself Western and do not buy into the west/Islam paranoia. But will you ever see that others will not consider you Western, whatever you do...
Oh by the way, it is not so bad to be a non-Western, or at least not to feel part of it and its associations. Try it every now and then, it is incredibly freeing...

Gulay said...

anonymous, I really dislike people who call me my dear and yet hide their face. I find your comments condescending, arrogant and unnecessary. At the very least I am attempting to do something instead of sitting there in my smug, self satisfied, I am right bubble that you obviously inhabit.

How much affect will it have, probably very very little, do you think I am a wet behind the ears naive little princess. Of course all journalists and media have an agenda, however the BBC is one of the most balanced media outlets, its part of their founding charter that they are supposed to be impartial, or do you consider any media funded by the Government is just a mouthpiece for them. Its the attitude you are displaying that has allowed fanatics and fundamentalists to hijack opinion because, well its naive, well it will have no impact, well everyone will still see me as a a swarthy Turk so why bother? Do stereotypes not concern you or are you happy living with your mediocrity.

You provoked this chain by calling me a self loathing Turk and then when I make a statement about what and who I am you then say, we are not interested. So stop passing judgment on me in that case, at least I have made that statement and made myself available for criticism.

Anonymous said...

Gulay stop your attacks por favor.

You say "Its the attitude you are displaying that has allowed fanatics and fundamentalists to hijack opinion because."

Change your mantra for one my dear.
State facts, that is if you are capable.

Thanx for not starting your comment with "I'm married to a Brit" as if that makes your OPINIONS more credible.

anonymous, I really dislike people who call me my dear and yet hide their face.
That makes very little sense to me, maybe it's because I'm educated that I see no logic in that remark.

serhat said...

Metin said:
"It's OK to be a Muslim so long as you don't practice it, at least within the political spectra."

There is huge misconception here. Who has a problem with Muslims who are out there to practice what they are required? Show me a single mosque that was shut down. Or a single person who was prevented from fasting, or anyone from going to "Hac". But I can give you many examples on people having been harassed, even killed because they did not fast, or refused to go to the mosque. There are counties in Istanbul (like Fatih) you can't even walk around without a proper Islamic suit on. The line between practicing Islamic requirements and the political Islam that claims to regulate the social order as a whole is pretty thick.

What bugs me the most is that the people who call themselves democrats remember the democratic agenda only when the Army has something to say. Do you even realize that, in Istanbul again, the bus ticket stations are separated as "men" and "women".

Metin said:
"It's time to stop the 'nationalism' agenda and get ready to embrace globalization,"

Well said, but please show me the magic button to stop this madness and replace it with globalization. I'd like to hear some analyses on how the nationalism popped out all of a sudden in 5 years? All I hear is,
-Army should not be involved in politics, it's so not democratic.
-Nationalism should be stopped.
-Kemalizm should be replaced with something new.

I'm sorry but repeat these as many times as you wish you still haven't said anything at the end of the day. Raising nationalism is the result of those "positive reforms" that the Turkish people were artificially pushed and forced into. It's the result of the constant feeling of being deceived and humiliated by our Western "allies" and this government’s indifference to all this theater just to achieve their underlying benefits that's gonna get the to form the social and political Islamic structure. Reform is not something you can just pass in the senate and have it done because France said so. I’d like to hear some analyses and solutions from my democrat friends regarding these problems.

Anonymous said...

When I use the word 'dear', I was trying to be ironic and British like..
I really don't care about your likes and dislikes as you display bias very quickly and unnecessarily towards people with opinions on the other side, you are very judgemental..
It is sad that you think that you are attempting to do something. I really mean that...
You've no idea how the system works in BBC and in the UK and in a bigger picture. If you did, you would not insist that the BBC is one of the most balanced media outlets in the world.
You also would open your eyes and see how you'd be observed from the otherside.
That does not necessarily mean you have been observed as a 'swarthy Turk' as you think and say. But rather a subservient, opressed one. Who does anything and everything, just to be on the same side with the bully..
The stereotypes does not concern me. Certain quarters will use them and abuse them for their purposes, that's they are there for. I know who I am, I am neither proud nor ashamed but rather comfortable.. I am totally happy living with my mediocrity. Nothing wrong with it. It is incredibly freeing.. After all life is about hapiness. And Freedom has a lot to do with hapiness..
I never called you 'a self loathing Turk', I think that is a little hars thing to say. Someone called you a 'modern Turk' earlier and I agreed and try to bring an argument about modernism, obviously not any interest to you, fair enough..
I'm not judging you about the statements about your private live.. I just find them irrelevant to the subject. I am more interested in your opinions since I don't know you personally. I really am. More than those people who judge you positively or negatively, based on who you are married or where you live etc.
I don't want to have a picture of you in my head as Gulay, married to a Brit, lives in US. That does not interest me and says nothing about you anyway. I'm not interested in anyones surface qualities, interested in your opinions as a Turk who present herself as that abroad...
I don't wish to criticise you as a person, I try to criticise your opinions..

mc2 said...

Well said Serhat and anonymous.

Metin said...

Serhat, I never said Turkey should be ruled by a democracy. I always said Turkey is not a democratic country. But I never said it should be. In fact, under the circumstances you outlined, it seems maybe it should not be. You see, in a democracy, any simple majority will have the right to rule over a minority. And in a Republic, every individual has a civil right and liberty no matter what the majority is.

For every person who wishes the bus stops to be coed, there might be one other who wishes that they be segregated. Who makes the call? Local precincts, religon, army, government, akp, "people" who ever they are, the bbc, the US, or the local residents. Or should we have the option to have both? Or is that too much compromise?

Maybe prevention is better than protection. Instead of trying to find a cure for a disease (r trying to argue about surgery or medication or therapy or letting it run its course) maybe we should waste our energies into preventing of the disease ahead of time so that it does not occur anymore.

But how? By reciting the same old rhetoric from and about Ataturk? or threats from secularists? or what???

Maybe dictatorship is not that bad?? for those who can'rt come up with the answer, we'll come up with the answer. And so be it! is the attitude that might work??

Where's the 'leadership' of Turkey? Where's the 'intellectuals' who have real solutions?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, now you really are taking the unsupportable moral high ground. I have been following this discussion form the sidelines and your attitude has been extremely patronising, insulting and arrogant. Something odd appears to have happened here though as a number of previously posted comments seem to have been deleted. I distinctly recall you or another anyonymous calling Gulay a self loathing Turk and also her rather impassioned response which you again ridiculed. You state that it is her comments you are challenging yet you have offered no comments on what she previously posted until you made it personal and started with the "welcome to the real world" crap that you have infected this comment chain, which until your irrelevant interjection was actually provoking a good conversation which I was enjoying. Then you have the absolute cheek to ask Gulay to stop being biased and judgemental whilst offering absolutely nothing to the oingoing disussion but personal in\sults and verbal diarrohea. Where are your comments on the issues that Metin ,Gulay and others were discussing, oh that's right, you simply stated they were both naive and should shut up. How educated is that. To me you sound like a simple minded fuckwit but thats just my opinion of course as one anoynymous to another.

Anonymous said...

'To me you sound like a simple minded fuckwit but thats just my opinion of course as one anoynymous to another.'

It's ok by me that I sound the above to you. I don't try to prove anything to anyone.
I actually have provided some of my opinions. But obviously you don't agree. That's ok too. This, is real world, unfortunately...

Serhat said...

Metin said:
"Serhat, I never said Turkey should be ruled by a democracy. I always said Turkey is not a democratic country. But I never said it should be."

Metin, my comments were not specifically for you.
I simply say to my friends who are deeply offended by army’s interference “because they are democrats” that Army talked one day but democracy and individual rights has been under attack for a long time in Turkey. Where have you guys been since then? When someone with a tie violates democratic rights it’s ok, maybe someone wants “separated bus stops” there is nothing non-democratic about that! But someone with a uniform does it, it’s unacceptable. People confuse Turkish military with Switzerland Army. The difference is Turkish army has always been one of the players on the table, like the workers, intellectuals, government, the people. This is not my preference, this is the fact. Maybe we should brush up on the reality that the army’s role in Turkey has always been different than that of Western democracies. We missed the industrial revolution and driven-power of building our “democracy” was not the people of the country but the army itself. From above. This is what sets Turkey apart from Western civilization. This is why the main target of political Islam has always been to change the political preference of the army, you change it you change the country. They know that, army knows that, intellectuals know that. This is simply a power struggle and none of the sides are really democratic. So everybody should stop screaming only one of the sides do something not democratic.

Metin said:
"Where's the 'leadership' of Turkey? Where's the 'intellectuals' who have real solutions?"

That's the question I keep asking. They are too busy dealing with practical problems to see what’s really going on around.

**Sorry guys but how am I supposed to keep track which anonymous is which? Is it so hard just to assume a nick name?

Metin said...

Maybe the Turks should stop living in the past and realize the present. The world is ever-changing in front of our eyes, and we're too busy 'reacting' to outcomes that were planted a while back, instead of trying to make policy for the future and have enough time to adjust.

When will the Turks realize what they are really worth. Depending on who you talk to this could be answered in contradicting fashion. I know where I think the answer pretty much lies, and I have resigned to that fact.

Unless and until Turks get rid of the 'taboos' in their closet, their dirty laundry is exposed for everyone to see. Maybe it's time for us to turn on the washer and just load our clothes in and wait.

Metin said...

My final sentence in last comment could also have read, "Maybe it's time for us to turn on the washer and (NOT) just load our clothes in and wait."

Anonymous said...

'Maybe the Turks should stop living in the past and realize the present.'

'Unless and until Turks get rid of the 'taboos' in their closet, their dirty laundry is exposed for everyone to see.'

Nice woolly gems. Why don't you start to take your own medicine?
Oh sorry, maybe you are not a Turk, just an American Turk...

Metin said...

Anonymous, I don't believe in taking non-prescribed medication. I believe in 'holi-stic' approaches for some, and for others 'prescription drugs.'

But instead of concentrating on what methods might cure the ailment, maybe you should practice prevention. Maybe even abstinence!

Anonymous said...

I've already been practicing prevention. You've criticized me for that..Remember?..

Peregrine said...

Walking through Istanbul with my Turkish friend last year, a secular woman, I watched as she was shunned by women with scarves who turned their backs on her.
The rise of the AK party is giving the more religious Turks the support and impetus to force the country into an Islamist state.
The election of Gul will only split the country further. He may be a moderate but he encourages and emboldens the more fundamental elements.
It could have the effect that the military will feel the need to step in again to change the government. Look at the harsh language in the warning the military issued just yesterday. That would be a disaster to their EU hopes and for the economy.
Brooklyn, USA