Hidden amongst the ongoing troubles in Iraq and Afghanistan, more posturing by that fool Mugabe and French Presidential elections, are the events in Turkey; which deserve more International attention.
The reason? Turkey is a prime and possibly solitary example of an Islamic nation practicing a secular style of government and, some human rights issues aside, making a real, democratic success of it. Last week some half a million Turkish people marched in the defence of secularism and a second demonstration is underway, this in itself struck me as a wonderful event that deserved more celebration across the globe. Here we have an Islamic nation that has long put behind it the dogma of certain sections of Islam in an effort to build a democracy that can be recognised as such across the world.
American readers may be unaware of a certain priggish, snobbishness amongst certain European nations at the inclusion of Turkey in the EU, citing various human rights infringements whilst at the same time ignoring a long history of forward thinking democratic action. The desire to exclude Turkey from the EU is as dangerous as it is foolish, best to welcome the nation with open arms, to celebrate a secular, Islamic country with one of the fastest growing and strongest economies in the world.
Turkey is also of vast strategic importance and always has been, it is an ally to keep on side because of its geographic position and the fact it has the second largest standing army in NATO (behind the US); something that has not been missed by America which does its best not to antagonise Turkey but Bush’s clumsy foreign policy has made a solid ally into a wary neutral.
More importantly, Turkey stands as firm and undeniable proof in these xenophobic times that a Muslim nation is more than capable of separating religion from the state and pushing forward with a progressive agenda.