Thoughts and Truth from the Impossible Life

Turkey and Islamic Politics

The Arab revolts of 2011 awakened interest in the Turkish model, exemplifying an Islamist-rooted party building a liberal democracy. Turkey’s experience with the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government since 2002 shows quite the opposite.
When the AKP came to power, some saw it as an opportunity to end Kemalism and liberalize the country. They suggested that the AKP, rooted in Turkey’s Islamist opposition, would move beyond rigid Kemalism, creating a truly liberal democracy. Some added that the AKP would also shed illiberal Kemalist traditions, such as its nationalist foreign policy line on European Union accession, as well as its taboos surrounding the Armenian issue.

The AKP did not move Turkey beyond Kemalism. Instead, the party destroyed Kemalists, while at the same time it perpetuated old Kemalism’s taboos and attitudes and abandoned its liberal ideals, such as gender equality. Hence, a decade after the AKP assumed power, Turkey has become more illiberal. The old Kemalists are out and the “new” old Kemalists are in. The AKP’s “new” old Kemalists do not share any of Kemalism’s pro-Western tendencies and have plenty of illiberalism to spare.

Take, for instance, the Armenian issue: When the AKP came to power, some maintained that the AKP could normalize Turkey’s ties with Armenia and open a liberal debate on the fateful events of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire. The AKP initially toyed with the idea of rapprochement — to the extent of involving U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to broker a deal in 2009, only to break its promise later.

Another illustrative lesson in AKP intentions can be drawn from a recent visit by AKP leader and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Kars, a town on the Turkish-Armenian border. Erdogan commented on a statue, a symbol of Turkish-Armenian friendship depicting two abstract characters in shared agony, calling the statue “a freak show” and requesting that it be destroyed. So much for casting out old Kemalism’s taboos: the AKP perpetuates these taboos, even if it eliminated Kemalists.

Nor has the AKP abandoned old Kemalism’s nationalist stance in its foreign policy. Rather, the party has maintained this posture, and even moved beyond it to the point of undermining Turkey’s historic goal of joining the EU.

Initially, the AKP pursued EU accession, though it now appears this was a tactical choice intended to allay fears about the AKP’s political identity as an Islamist party. When Turkey entered membership talks in 2005 and the idea of a liberal society appeared within reach, the AKP backpedaled.

What is worse, the party is now fanning anti-European sentiments. Recently, the AKP’s chief negotiator for EU accession warned that Europe risks “emulate[ing] the fascist methods of the 1930s.” The power of such rhetoric should not be underestimated: according to a recent German Marshall Fund poll, 74 percent of Turks supported EU accession in 2004 while only 38 percent supported membership in 2010.

The AKP’s “new” old Kemalism is painfully un-European. Take, for instance, gender equality: In 1994, 15 percent of executive civil service positions were held by women, according to IRIS, an Ankara-based women’s rights group. This number has since decreased to 11 percent. While 33 percent of all lawyers in Turkey are women, not a single woman exists among the nine top bureaucrats in Turkey’s Justice Ministry. Contrast this with the large number of female jurists in the country’s high courts where, until recently, judges were appointed by their peers rather than the government. Nearly half of the members of the Council of State, Turkey’s top administrative court, are women. A recent amendment to the constitution gives the AKP the right to singlehandedly appoint judges to the high court, which will effectively end judicial independence and further erode women’s rights.

Lastly, consider the AKP’s record on freedom of expression. Recently, it started an investigation into comments by Suheyl Batum, deputy chair of main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Speaking on the Turkish military’s diminishing role in politics, Batum said that the “military is like a paper tiger.” The AKP reacted with efforts to press criminal charges against Batum for “insulting the military.” Here is the ultimate proof that the AKP enshrines “new” old Kemalism: the party is investigating a Kemalist for criticizing a Kemalist institution!

After nearly a decade in power, the AKP has not eliminated Turkey’s taboos, embraced Europe, or increased freedoms. Instead, using its unbridled control over the executive, legislative and now judicial branches and the media, the party has eliminated Kemalists, and now aims to shape Turkish society in its own narrowly conservative and authoritarian image. In other words, the old Kemalists are gone and the “new” old Kemalists are in charge of Ankara.

Turkey and the Arab countries are different in many ways, and it is difficult to draw direct analogies. However, if Turkey’s experience under the AKP proves anything, one should not expect Islamist parties to build liberal societies after the great Arab revolt is over.

Accession of Turkey to the European Union

Accession of Turkey to the European Union

March 31, 2011 Posted by | Politics/Government/Freedom, Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam, World Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Islam Definition of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Allah: “God”; Arabic Christians also worship “Allah,” but an Allah of a very different sort as they refer to the Real One True God.

Allahu Akhbar: “God is Great (-est)”; term of praise; war cry of Muslims.

AH: “after Hijra”; the Islamic calendar?s system of dating; employs lunar rather than solar years; as of January 2007, we are in AH 1428.

Ansar: “aiders” or “helpers”; Arabian tribesmen allied with Muhammad and the early Muslims.

Badr: first significant battle fought by Muhammad and the Muslims against the Quraish tribe of Mecca.

Caliph: title of the ruler or leader of the Umma (global Muslim community); the head of the former Islamic Empire; the title was abolished by Kemal Attaturk in 1924 following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the founding of modern Turkey.

dar al-Islam: “House (Realm) of Islam”; Islamic territory ruled by Sharia law

dar al-harb: “House (Realm) of War”: territory ruled by infidels

dar al-sulh: “House (Realm) of Truce”: territory ruled by infidels but allied with Islam; territory ruled by Muslims but not under Sharia law

Dhimma: the pact of protection extended to non-slave “People of the Book”, usually Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, which permitted them to remain nominally free under Muslim rule. Subjegated and oppressed people in Islamic countries and to refer to those in non-Islamic countries that willingly help advance the cause of global Islamic domination whether through intent or ignorance.

dhimmi: “protected”; people under the protection of the dhimma. Subjegated and oppressed people in Islamic countries and to refer to those in non-Islamic countries that willingly help advance the cause of global Islamic domination whether through intent or ignorance.

dhimmitude: word coined by historian Bat Ye’or to describe the status of dhimmi peoples

hadith: “report”; any of thousands of episodes from the life of Muhammad transmitted orally until written down in the eighth century AD; sahih (reliable or sound) hadiths are second only to the Quran in authority.

Hijra: “emigration”; Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina (Yathrib) in AD 622.

Islam: “submission” or “surrender.”

jizya: the poll or head tax prescribed by Sura 9:29 of the Quran to be paid by Christians and Jews in Muslim-held territory.

Kaba: “cube”; the Meccan temple in which numerous pagan idols were housed before Muhammad’s conquest of Mecca in AD 632, which is still the most venerated object in Islam; the Kaba’s cornerstone, which is believed to have fallen from heaven, is the stone on which Abraham was to sacrifice his son, Ishmael (not Isaac).

Mecca: holiest city of Islam; place of Muhammad’s birth in AD 570; its Great Mosque contains the Kaba stone; early period in Muhammad’s life where more peaceful verses of the Quran were recited from half remembered Christianity, Judaism and local pagan customs, when these failed to convert many people, they were replaced with later verses invented in Medina, the policy of replacing older verses with new is called subligation making the old more peaceful verses no longer valid; site of Muhammad’s victory over the Quraish in AD 630.

Medina: “city,” short for “city of the Prophet”; second holiest city of Islam; destination of Muhammad’s Hijra (emigration) in AD 622; later period in Muhammad’s life where more violent verses of the Quran were invented to justify Mohammed’s actions as being approved or ordered by Allah; site of third major battle fought by Muhammad against the Quraish tribe from Mecca; formerly called Yathrib.

Muhammad: “the praised one.”

Muslim: one who submits.

Quran (Kuran, Qu’ran, etc.): “recitation”; according to Islam, the compiled verbatim words of Allah as dictated by Muhammad.

razzia: “raid”; acts of piracy on land or sea by Muslims against infidels, this is allowed and encouraged in Islam

Sira: “life”; abbreviation of Sirat Rasul Allah, or “Life of the Prophet of God”; the canonical biography of the Prophet Muhammad written in the eighth century by Ibn Ishaq and later edited by Ibn Hisham; modern translation by Alfred Guillaume.

Subligation: the policy of replacing older verses with new, making the old more peaceful verses no longer valid

Sunnah: the “Way” of the Prophet Muhammad; includes his teachings, traditions, and example.

Sura: a chapter of the Quran; Quranic passages are cited as Sura number:verse number, e.g., 9:5.

Taqiyya: In practical terms it is manifested as dissimulation, lying, deceiving, vexing and confounding with the intention of deflecting attention, foiling or pre-emptive blocking. It is currently employed in fending off and neutralising any criticism of Islam or Muslims. Falsehoods told to prevent the denigration of Islam, to protect oneself, or to promote the cause of Islam are sanctioned in the Qur’an and Sunna, including lying under oath in testimony before a court, deceiving by making distorted statements to the media such as the claim that Islam is a “religion of peace”. A Muslim is even permitted to deny or denounce his faith if, in so doing, he protects or furthers the interests of Islam, so long as he remains faithful to Islam in his heart.

Uhud: second major battle fought by Muhammad against the Quraish tribe of Mecca.

Umar: second “rightly-guided” Caliph; ruled AD 634–44, succeeded Abu Bakr; conquered the Holy Land.

Umma (ummah): the global Muslim community; the body of Muslim faithful.

Uthman: third “rightly-guided” Caliph; ruled AD 644–56, succeeded Umar; compiled the Quran in book form.

Yathrib: city to which Muhammad made the Hijra (emigration) in AD 622/AH 1; renamed Medina

March 31, 2011 Posted by | Pending Classification, Politics/Government/Freedom, Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam, World Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bed Bath and Beyond Support Israel

I have posted this to Bed, Bath & Beyond Facebook page and emailed it to their corporate office:

I formally request that Bed Bath & Beyond not give in to the insane pressure of CODEPINK to remove Ahava and SodaStream products from your stores. CODEPINK completely is wrong in the position about the Israeli issues in the Middle East and these companies provide good jobs for their employees, both Israeli and non-Israeli which provides stability to the area.

(I purposesly didn’t put Palestinian employees since there is no such people as Palestinian, but rather displaced Arabs from Jordan, Syria, etc. when they were disenfranchised from those countries of which they had previously been members. It is a recent invention to talk of Palestinian people. This identity didn’t previously exist prior to the Arab War of Aggression against Israel, also know as the Six-day War.)

March 31, 2011 Posted by | Politics/Government/Freedom, Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam, World Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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