Thursday, November 02, 2006

Turkey: Less Europe, More Islam - Der Spiegel

David Seaton's News Links
This story is one of the clearest examples of Bush as a "weapon of mass destruction". Really, would this be happening if Bush hadn't invaded Iraq and supported the Israeli hard right positions in Palestine? DS

Abstract: Islamic-style swimsuits are the new rage on the beaches and around pools across the country. Nowadays, observant women venture onto the sands clad head-to-toe. Manufacturer of these chaste outfits is the Istanbul fashion firm Hasema, whose customers include the wives of leading politicians of the governing AKP, the religious-conservative Justice and Development Party.(...) Recently, the ministry of education itself was outraged over the fact that several publishing companies had, on their own initiative, rewritten children's books that the ministry had recommended for classroom use. In the edited versions, Pinocchio, Heidi and Tom Sawyer live in an Islamic world where inhabitants wish each other a "blessed morning" or ask for food "in Allah's name." Aramis, one of the Three Musketeers, even converts to Islam. Is Turkey really becoming more Islamic? And particularly now, after coming so far on the way towards Europe? What is undeniable is that, one year after the opening of accession talks with the EU, the atmosphere in Turkey, with its 99 percent Muslim population, is increasingly anti-European, anti-Western and more nationalistic. Only one third of Turks support membership in the European Union, according to a survey published last week in the daily Milliyet -- a dramatic change for Turks, who have been big fans of Europe for so long. A good a week before the planned publication of the latest EU-Progress Report, the government in Ankara now fears a further worsening of the climate. If the report is, as expected, negative -- sharply critical of the judiciary and the limited freedom of opinion, as well as the Turkish relation to the status of Cyprus -- then Turkey is on the verge of a "massive shock," the nation's papers say. Many, even pro-Western Turks, feel that Europe has criticized them unfairly, or even repelled them. "The eastern European states were supported to an incredible degree, practically pushed into EU membership -- that can't be said about Turkey," protests Cem Duna, board member of the powerful industrial association Tüsiad, which continues to advocate for EU accession. Religious Turks, on the other hand, are primarily disappointed that Europe and the EU-friendly AKP have failed to bring greater religious freedoms. "Our women who wear headscarves still are not permitted to study," complains Ali Bulaç, columnist for the Islamic newspaper Zaman. The circulation of religiously oriented publications has tripled in recent years.When the AKP first came to power four years ago, Bulaç was still enthusiastic about Turkish accession. But then the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey was justified in excluding headscarf-clad women from the classroom. Bulaç recalls angrily how his own wife was barred from their daughter's graduation ceremony because of her headscarf. Now he declares: "We have to find another way, perhaps by looking towards Asia or the Middle East. Europe only wants us to assimilate." READ MORE

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