One million rally in Turkey for secularism, democracy

Sun April 29, 2007 - AFP

ISTANBUL - More than one million people took part in a mass rally here Sunday in support of secularism and democracy amid a tense stand-off between the Islamist-rooted government and the army over presidential elections.

The crowd, carrying red-and-white Turkish flags and portraits of founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, filled Istanbul's sprawling Caglayan square in a demonstration organized by some 600 non-governmental organizations.

"Turkey is secular and will remain secular," "Neither Sharia, nor coup d'etat, democratic Turkey," they chanted ...

The Istanbul demonstration followed a similar one in Ankara on April 14 that attracted up to 1.5 million people, according to some estimates.

Tensions rose after Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, a former Islamist from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), narrowly missed becoming the country's next president in a first round of voting in parliament on Friday.

The AKP dominates the 550-seat parliament, but does not have the required two-thirds majority to get Gul elected in the first two rounds of voting ...

The opposition boycotted the vote because of Gul's Islamist past and because they were not consulted on his candiacy for the non-partisan post.

The army, which has carried out three coups in the past, issued a statement saying it was determined to protect Turkey's secular system and was ready to take action if the need arose, making it clear, according to many analysts, that Gul's candidacy was not welcome ...

The prospect of Gul becoming head of state has alarmed secularists who fear the strict separation of state and religion will be eroded and Islam will creep into all fields of life if he is elected ...

Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan served in now-defunct Islamist parties before setting up the AKP in 2001.

They say they have disawoved their Islamist roots and are now committed to secular principles.

But secularists suspect the AKP of harbouring a secret Islamic agenda, citing its unsuccessful attempts to criminalise adultery, restrict alcohol sales and lift a ban on Islamic headscarves in government offices.

They fear the government will have a free hand to implement Islamist policies if the party controls the presidency ...

"Turkey either giving up on secularism or suspending democracy are two doomsday scenarios impossible to choose between," the popular daily Vatan said.

Yahoo News

Image Gallery (click to enlarge)

Protesters carrying portraits of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey ...

Turkish war veterans carry the portraits of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk ...

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with a poster of modern Turkey's founder Kemal Ataturk in the background ...

A protester holds a placard showing a bulb, the symbol of the ruling AK Party, wrapped with a black chador during a rally to oppose the AK Party's presidential candidate.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, the presidential candidate of the Islamic-rooted ruling party, leaves Kocatepe Mosque

The future for Turkey ... under Islamic rule?

No more fun for Turkey?

More: KimArar's photos, Winds of Jihad, Turkey on the brink, Democracy Frontline, Yahoo Photos, GateWayPundit

My Comments ...

This begs the question "what lessons can Australia learn from this", in light of our rapidly expanding Muslim population. That depends what has caused the shift in power towards an Islamic party. Turkey is a Muslim population, but pulled itself out of sharia-law years ago and has managed to remain secular. So what has changed? I don't know yet, but I can guess either:
  • the percentage of population of non-secular Muslims has increased, or
  • public opinion has swayed to hard-line Muslim values
If population is the cause then, in a democracy, "demography is destiny". If public opinion has swayed, then it is a failure to control the ideas of fundamentalists. You either have to limit their population, or control their ideas and behaviour.

With the exploding birthrates of non-secular Muslims, much of Europe is headed down a similar road to Islamic rule. Who needs a war when they can "conquer us with their bellies".

“Turkey is secular and will remain secular,” “Neither Sharia, nor coup d’etat, democratic Turkey,” they chanted …

If you won’t limit the non-secular Muslim population in your democracy (or their ideas), then they will eventually rule. Putting your faith in laws like “we are secular” ultimately comes down to a plea for mercy when the non-secular Muslims gain control. It won’t last.

Australia has to somehow halt our exploding Muslim population, or one day we will see kids walking down the street in a rally with pictures of Edmund Barton pleading “but we are secular Mr Muslim - please let us be”.

Either halt the Muslim population, or radically transform Islam in Australia into a mere shadow of itself (if that is possible), or hope the military comes to save you at the last minute, or do nothing and leave it to our kids to get on their knees and submit. There is no easy road.

Update ...

Mark Steyn - De-Boning Turkey:

"But among all the lamentations only Michel Gurfinkiel’s recent analysis in Commentary got to the underlying reality: Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, there have been two Turkeys: the Turks of Rumelia, or European Turkey, and the Turks of Anatolia, or Asia Minor. Kemal Ataturk was from Rumelia and so were most of his supporters, and they imposed the modern Turkish Republic on a somewhat relunctant Anatolia, where Ataturk’s distinction between the state and Islam was never accepted. In its 80-year history, the population has increased from 14 million in 1923 to 70 million today, but the vast bulk of that population growth has come from Anatolia, whose population has migrated from the rural hinterland to overwhelm the once solidly Kemalist cities. Ataturk’s modern secular Turkey has simply been outbred by fiercely Islamic Turkey. That’s a lesson in demography from an all-Muslim sample: no pasty white blokes were involved. So the fact that Muslim fertility is declining in Tunisia is no consolation: all that will do, as in Turkey, is remove moderate Muslims from the equation too early in the game."

See also, Michel Gurfinkiel's - Is Turkey Lost?

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