Views of people from Turkey and Holland on statements made by Newsweek journalist Fareed Zakaria, Turkish president Abdullah Gül and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Dutch VPRO documentary ‘Turkije – Het Dilemma van de Democratie’: ‘Turkey – the dilemma of democracy’ that will broadcast on 8th of October. Daily at Sargasso from October 5th until October 12th, at 13.00h (Amsterdam time, 14.00h Istanbul time). This blogging project is part of the Dutch democracy week WijZijnDeBaas (WeAreTheBoss): the Dutch contribution to the International Week for Democracy. More information here.
Is Europe a home for an alliance of civilizations or is it a Christian club?
Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
prime minister of Turkye,
April 16th 2007, in ‘Der Spiegel’
Emre Kizilkaya | The Istanbulian
turkish journalist, Hürriyet newspaper, blogger.
“The EU has founded as a project of peace after the bloody clash between Britain-France and Germany ended up with disasters of the total war. The cooperation of Anglo-French and Germanic world was being seen then as impossible as today’s project of an Islamo-Christian civilization. Though, nothing is clear yet, because unlike during the foundation of the EU, now the European elite is not aware the importance of multiculturalism and it leaves it to the public. So European peoples are on the verge of deciding it by themselves. As long as the current trend -where the public opinion is manipulated by narrow-minded European conservatives (whom I dubbed as “Eurocons”)- continues, the natural consequence would be the ultimate exclusion of other cultures for sake of a ‘white Europe’ “.
Erkan Saka | Erkan’s field diary
blogger, thesis on Turkish journalism and the European Union, Ph.D candidate Anthropology at Rice University and instructor at the Public Relations Department of Istanbul Bilgi University.
“Aside from the fact that I am not too keen on the idea of civilization, this is a rhetorical counter-attack. Well, you see we are Muslims and we are not threatened with living with others but can EU do that, too? Once I believed the EU was the most secular political entity in the world, now i have doubts. Not because of the EU elites per se but the right-wing populist politicians like Merkel and Sarkozy encourage a Christian imaginary for the EU”.
Haluk Direskeneli | Energy Newsletter Turkey
blogger, energy expert.
“Who can say the opposite??”
Beatrice Vanni | Arabisto and Turkey & My Foreign Perspectives
blogger, lives in Turkey, and helps people gain visibility for their work and attract more clients through high-quality writing, editing and project development.
“I hope it isn’t a Christian Club because if so, I really don’t see how the world can live as one. Our religions should be something to share and celebrate for the good of all and not as a divider of people. Religion should be contributing to a better life for those who practice it, and none of the religions support hate, murder, disrespect, crime, violence and the lot. Maybe people should look at humanity’s overwhelming similarities instead of focusing on the differences which are actually a rare few.
In Turkey, people from many nations and faiths have lived side by side in harmony for many decades. Before that, the Ottoman Empire had synagogues, churches and mosques in the same neighborhood. Many Turkish seniors, especially in Istanbul, still remember when a neighborhood was made up of people from all over with many different faiths. Christian Club? No more so than anywhere else is a Jewish Club or a Muslim Club. Let’s not forget that the world has many religions and all of them give us something to share and celebrate together”.
Christine Quirk | Quirk Global Strategies
blogger, expert in political campaign and communications, worked, traveled or studied in more than 50 countries around the world.
“I’m neither Turkish nor European so I approach this issue as someone who doesn’t really have a dog in the fight. I think Europe would be good for Turkey and Turkey would be good for Europe.
It makes me crazy that US policy –driven hard by geopolitically irrelevant domestic politics — has been to stick the Turks in the eye. It seems to me that not enough people understand how critical Turkey is geographically and strategically. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an economically developed, stable, moderate-Muslim democracy in this region? Given the state of geo-politics today, I would think the US and Europe would be falling over themselves to encourage and support Turkey”.
Michael van der Galiën | The Gazette
blogger, frequent visitor of Turkey with interest in the politics and culture of the country, published columns in the Turkish Daily News and is correspondent in the Netherlands for Pajamas Media.
“The time that Europe was a Christian club is no more. Better; Europe has never been a ‘Christian club’ because when Europe was still strongly Christian, it wasn’t a ‘club.’ There was no unity. Today, there’s unity, but most Europeans country have become increasingly secular.
As such, Europe is and should be an alliance of civilized countries”.
Hans A.H.C. de Wit | Internations Musings: Istanbul, Florence, Athens, Yerevan and Dubai | blogger, international communication manager, lives in Turkey, cross cultural specialist.
“Europe is not a Christian club, since so many people are non-affiliated. There are several civilizations already in the EU, so I don’t understand this critique of PM Erdogan. There are the Greek, Roman, Nordic, French, and British civilizations which are dominant in Europe. If Turkey, with its unique civilization and history is compatible with the EU is a different question. This statement about religions is not valid in my opinion”.
Altin | Altin.nl
“The question posed by the prime minister is very much needed. Europe has to give openess on this issue and a clear policy. If Europe is an alliance of civilizations than Turkey will be part of it. Looking at the position and developments in Turkey this country is able to achieve this goal. Ofcourse certain background and history plays an important role, but I think that yoy have to look at the future , leran from the past and work together fro a better future”.
Professor at the Sabinci University Istanbul
“Ërdogan also says that Turkey and all its citizens are afraid of loosing their religion. That is one of the reasons why there is such an active debate on this issue in our country. Secular-democratic minded Turks are afraid that Islam will gain more power. We, ordinairy citizens are confronted with this every day. More and more headscarfs are worn and religion is more in the open (where before it was a private issue). People who don’t join the ramadan and don’t live according to islamic laws receive more critical remarks from society. Turkey did it’s very best to be a democratic country, now we are going back in time.”
Joost Lagendijk | Groen Links
Member of the European Parliament: Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Chairman Delegation of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee.
“I am not able to look into the soul of Erdogan. But I dont believe he and Gül have a hidden agenda. If you really want to implement the sharia you would’nt put so much effort in a Turkish EU membership. Because no matter how you look at it: the sharia can not co-exist with EU memebership. The AK-party is even the most pro-European political party. I really think Erdogan and Gül realize that muslims are better off with the freedom of religion as we know it in Europe than the strict secularism in Turkey”.
The views of Altin, Ozcinar and Lagendijk were translated from Dutch, the text in Dutch is published on the website of VPRO Tegenlicht. Due to some misunderstanding these three people were provided with a statement of two sentences: “Is Europe a home for an alliance of civilizations or is it a Christian club? If the former is true, then Turkey should be part of it”.