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 was 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.
The problem is not religion. It is the social-political context in which the religion exists. You can’t change the religion, but you cán change the social-political context. It becomes a very hostile relationship with the 1.2 billion Muslims to tell them: the problem is your religion….
Emre Kizilkaya | The Istanbulian
turkish journalist, Hürriyet newspaper, blogger.
“As long as the question is wrong, there is no way to answer it correctly. Islam is a religion and one of its main principles suggests that “the religion is between the God and His subject.” Another significant Islamic principle (from Quran) says that “your religion is for yourself and my religion is for myself.” So Islam is something personal, but Democracy is a form of government, which is public. They are not mutually exclusive, but they are irrelevant. In these circumstances, associating the democracy with Islam is harming both of them. This errant trend gives power to political Islamists, who don’t care about harming both of these concepts in advantage of their personal interests. Because it’s easier to manipulate the public opinion by the power of the faith”.
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.
“In theory, the EU enlargement policies have already made this question unnecessary. Obey the rules, i.e. Copenhagen Criteria, and join the Union. Interestingly, contemporary problematization of religious difference emerges within the EU. Islamic opposition to EU membership led by Necmettin Erbakan’s parties is a well known phenomena but AKP, whose origins go back to his parties, from the outset started a new route towards the EU. 4-5 years ago Turkish public opinion was dominantly pro-EU and I have not heard any challenge related to the religious difference in the public debates. However, Giscard d’Estaing’s notorious anti-Turkish statements, September 11 and many other related obstacles triggered the problematization of religious difference.”.
Haluk Direskeneli | Energy Newsletter Turkey
blogger, energy expert.
“I am sure that islam and democracy are very compatible, even it is for sure that early stages of islam history was completely in democratic administration.
Anyhow democracy and religion are two completely different issues to be kept completely apart from each other”.
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 agree that religion should not interfere with a democracy and certainly one should not be told that a religion is contrary to democracy. Turkey stands as a good example how both Islam and democracy can co-exist and has for many years.
Additionally, if there are problems which interfere with democratic laws, then leaders must ask if it is due to the social or political context of that law or is it of religion. An evolving country should strive for not only educating the masses about democracy and what it offers, but give solid examples of how democracy supports freedom of their religious practice.
Blending the two through participation of the people at large should have a good result if the country truly wants a strong democracy yet one compatible with their religion”.
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 think Turkey is an excellent test case, not just because it is a functioning democracy, but also because it is modernizing its economy and improving governance. The problem in the Muslim world is not only the lack of democracy; it’s the corruption, the interference by western powers, the backwards economies and poor governance that frustrate the people and make them feel like they have nowhere to turn except for the parties who haven’t been in power, mucking things up for the past generation.
AKP brought legitimate political and economic accomplishments to the table. Turks affirmed them with their votes. I got the sense Turks were voting in favour of something, not just casting their votes in protest of something else. In how many other Muslim countries is that the case? Turks gave AKP permission to continue along the same path, within certain boundaries”.
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.
“This statement is partially correct: partially because, yes, the social-political context is important, partially incorrect because you can change a religion: it has been done in every religion including Christianity, Judaism and Islam”.
Hans A.H.C. de Wit | Internations Musings: Istanbul, Florence, Athens, Yerevan and Dubai | blogger, international communication manager, lives in Turkey, cross cultural specialist.
“Turkey has a hybrid regime. And with its secular system, this kind of democracy can survive. But from within the Islam there are too many groups who push Islam in the way of Shari law, which is by no means compatible with democracy. Turkey can be the living proof that Islam can deal with democracy, as long as they use the EU and its constitution and institutions as their guidance. The problem is not religion, the problem is a lack of democratic institutions in the Muslim world.”.
Ebru Umar | ebruumar.nl
“Their breasts clearly visible in their blouses, they wear high heels under their bikini’s, their make-up and hair is impeccable and they have a superior and bored look in their eyes: Turkish girls. They are too lazy to put up a sun screen, however they do have an opinion on politics [..] The Turks are in a conflict with themselves: they don’t accept the inference of the army in politics because it isn’t democratic, but they are proud of the army as the guardian of the Western values. Without the army, this country would have changed into a second Iran, is their strong opinion. [..] I was an intern in Istanbul when in 1994 the current Prime Minister Erdogan was elected as the first publicly religious mayor of the city. The chaos and threat that arose became the support of the political Islam made a big impression on me. Since then political Islam has penetrated slowly but purposeful to the public life and the question is when it will stop. The AK party of Erdogan will certainly win the elections and will put Gül forward as president. [..] The chance that the army will tolerate this is small or even non-existent”. (Volkskrant July 20th 2007)
IJbrand van Veelen | VPRO Tegenlicht
Producer VPRO Tegenlicht
IJSBRAND VAN VEELEN (Tegenlicht-regisseur ‘Turkije – het dilemma van de democratie’)
(No translation yet)
‘Hebben wij ooit de vraag gesteld: ‘Gaan christendom en democratie wel samen’? En over welk christendom zouden we het dan hebben? Over bible belt-achtige christen-fundamentalisten of over mensen die vergeten zijn dat ze nog bij een kerkgenootschap staan ingeschreven? Kortom: islam en democratie in Turkije zijn van een wezenlijk andere orde dan islam en democratie in Iran of Egypte. Ik denk dat Zakaria gelijk heeft als hij stelt dat uiteindelijk de socio-politieke situatie bepalend is. Alleen, en daar schuilen allerlei adders onder het gras: als we spreken over het moderniseren van de socio-politieke situatie, over welke moderniseringen hebben we het dan? Dat deze vraag tot heftige discussies leidt is evident, maar laten we goed in de gaten houden dat dit een andere discussie is dan een discussie over het wezen van de godsdienst’.
Yusuf Altuntas | milligorusnederland.nl
Director Milli Görüs
(No translation yet)
‘Islam en democratie gaan hand in hand met elkaar. We zien dat moslims juist in Europa beter en vrijer hun religie kunnen belijden. Maar in meeste landen van herkomst heb je die vrije ruimte niet. Mooi voorbeeld hiervan is de hoofddoek affaire in Turkije. Draag je een hoofddoek mag je niet naar de universiteit, wat dan weer gevolgen heeft voor de emancipatie van de moslima’s in Turkije. Dit zorgt dan weer voor dat moslims achtergesteld raken op de rest. De juiste vraag hierin is dan eigenlijk: “Gaan moslims en democratie samen?”‘