Monday, May 07, 2007

The Irony of Turkish Protest

Hundreds of thousands of Turks protested Sunday against an Islamist candidate for president. Why? Out of fear that the Islamists will destroy representative democracy.

It's the second mass demonstration in two weeks. The first protest brought out 300,000 people. This one had as many as 700,000. One protester said
"They want to drag Turkey to the dark ages," said 63-year-old Ahmet Yurdakul, a retired government employee who attended the protest.

Turkey has for several decades been democratic. It is worried by many that the ruling party is attempting to change that:

Some 700,000 Turks waving the red national flag flooded central Istanbul on Sunday to demand the resignation of the government, saying the Islamic roots of Turkey's leaders threatened to destroy the country's modern foundations.

The ruling party candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, failed to win a first-round victory Friday in a parliamentary presidential vote marked by tensions between secularists and the pro-Islamic government. Most opposition legislators boycotted the vote and challenged its validity in the Constitutional Court.

The military said Friday night that it was gravely concerned and indicated it was willing to become more openly involved in the process — a statement some interpreted as an ultimatum to the government to rein in officials who promote Islamic initiatives.

Is it okay to ban a candidate because that candidate's election would almost surely result in the banning of all other political parties? While many Americans felt this way about Communism, it was not banned in America, but what might have happened if it had become a prominent American political party?

At the very least, America should butt out of this controversy and let the Turks decide.

Hopefully, as well, the protests will incite enough people to come to the polls so that dictatorial Islamic intentions will never see the light of day.

Interestingly, other sources are claiming only that "more than 10,000" protesters participated on Sunday. Well, yes...I guess 700,000 is "more than 10,000".

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