“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Turkey is pivotal in the battle between secularism and Islamism

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk [Atatürk](1881-1938) the founder of the Turkish Republic and its first President

Huge rally for Turkish secularism
Hat tip: desert rat

The rally is being described as a huge show of force
Tens of thousands of people are rallying in Istanbul in support of secularism in Turkey, amid a row over a vote for the country's next president.
The protesters are concerned that the ruling party's candidate for the post remains loyal to his Islamic roots.

The candidate, Abdullah Gul, earlier said he would not quit despite growing criticism from opponents and the army.

Mr Gul failed to win election in a first round vote in parliament as opposition MPs boycotted the vote.

They are also challenging its validity in the Constitutional Court.

An army statement on Friday accused the government of tolerating radical Islam and vowed to defend secularism.


1950: Born in Kayseri
1991: Elected to parliament for pro-Islamist Welfare Party
2001: One of founders of AK
2002-03: Prime minister
2003: Foreign minister, leading EU accession talks

Profile: Abdullah Gul

Mr Gul has steered Turkey's European Union accession talks as foreign minister and is seen as less confrontational than Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development (AK) party.

"The president must be loyal to secular principles. If I am elected, I will act accordingly," he said after his nomination for the presidency.

But some analysts say he is closer to his religious roots, and his wife would be the first First Lady to wear a headscarf, a deeply divisive statement in Turkey.
BBC, full story here.

Atatürk is the founder of the concept of a modern reformed Islamic state. He undertook a series of reforms to "raise Turkey to the level of modern civilization" which can be grouped under five titles. Compare that to the damage done to modernism by our dear friends the Saudis.

1. Political Reforms

  • Abolishment of the office of the Sultan (November 1922)
  • Proclamation of the Republic (29 October 1923)
  • Abolishment of the caliph (3 March 1924)
2. Social Reforms

  • Recognition of equal rights to men and women (1926 - 1934)
  • Reform of Headgear and Dress (25 November 1925)
  • Closure of mausoleums and dervish lodges (30 November 1925)
  • Law on family names (21 June 1934)
  • Abolishment of titles and by-names (26 November 1934)
  • Adoption of international calendar, hours and measurements (1925 - 1931)
3. Legal Reforms

  • Abolishment of the Canon Law (1924 - 1937)
  • Transfer to a secular law structure by adoption of Turkish Civil Code and other laws (1924 - 1937)
4. Reforms in the fields of education and culture

  • Unification of education (3 March 1924)
  • Adoption of new Turkish alphabet (1 November 1928)
  • Establishment of Turkish Language and History Institutions (1931 - 1932)
  • Regulation of the university education (31 May 1933)
  • Innovations in fine arts
5. Economic Reforms

  • Abolution of tithe
  • Encouragement of the farmers
  • Establishment of model farms
  • Establishment of industrial facilities, and putting into effect a law for Incentives for the Industry

whit's two cents:
(I was preparing a post on the same subject so I'll piggyback on Duece's post.)

I was struck this week by two related news stories which if nothing else, document the spread of the cancer that is fundamentalist Islam. The first story, the big one getting all the attention, is the Presidential race in Turkey where there is great concern in the military as well as the general public about Abdullah Gul's loyalties and priorities; If elected, will he support and promote a secular Turkey or will his Islamic beliefs cause him to take the country in a more fundamentalist direction? Two weeks ago more than than 300,000 people gathered in support of a secular Turkey. This week, the military shook things up with their announcement that they are bound to support a secular Turkey. Gul and his party, sought to assure the public that they do not seek an Islamic government. I believe that Gul's party has been moving Turkey in a more fundamentalist direction and the Turkish public has serious misgivings about his loyalty to a secular Turkey. I do too. The question is whether Gul's party can be trusted but based on recent history the answer would appear to be no. Not because their intentions are not good but because there are too many fundamentalists who have shown no compunction in reasserting control in the name of Allah. How many suicide bombings and beheadings must we witness before we decide that these people are serious about their "mission for God." In this climate, the moderates will be overcome with violence and the despotism of the zealots. Unchecked, the Islamists will reign.

BBC is reporting on the Crackdown in Iran over Dress Codes.
Thousands of Iranian women have been cautioned over their poor Islamic dress this week and several hundred arrested in the capital Tehran in the most fierce crackdown on what's known as "bad hijab" for more than a decade.

It is the talk of the town. The latest police crackdown on Islamic dress has angered many Iranians - male, female, young and old.

But Iranian TV has reported that an opinion poll conducted in Tehran found 86% of people were in favour of the crackdown - a statistic that is surprising given the strength of feeling against this move.

Police cars are stationed outside major shopping centres in Tehran.

They are stopping pedestrians and even cars - warning female drivers not to show any hair - and impounding the vehicles and arresting the women if they argue back.

Middle-aged women, foreign tourists and journalists have all been harassed, not just the young and fashionably dressed.

Overnight the standard of what is acceptable dress has slipped back.

The story went on to quote a very plucky 15-year old girl who wanted the world to know that she and her friends were being oppressed. I hate to think about all the spirit of that girl being beaten out of her as she is eventually forced to conform to the misogyny of religious thugs.

In Turkey and Iran, real, everyday people are on the front lines struggling against militant Islam and it is paramount for the west to find ways to support the people who will resist the fundamentalists. It is up to us to figure out how to best help those who are "in the trenches."


  1. Now you can see what I was attempting to explain,, the role of the Turkish Army, in Turkey.
    It has been the historic guarentour of secular rule, that role now protested, in the halls of the EU, DC too, I'd wager.

    Democratic trumps liberal.

    Aint't that Grand?

  2. and a tip of the hat to you as well..

  3. Hamas in Palistine, HB in Lebanon, who knows what's been unleashed in Iraq.
    The Mussulmen Brotherhood are surging in Eygpt.

    Only in Syria are the seculars holding the line against the Mussulmen. There the Baathist fall back on their Hama experience, as a guiding principle of Mussulmen management.

  4. As British draw down, violence in Basra is up
    The troops bear the brunt as Shiite factions fight for power and oil.

    By Alexandra Zavis, LA Times Staff Writer
    April 29, 2007

  5. Deuce scooped me on the post so I piggybacked what I was working on. Hope he doesn't mind.

  6. The American Israeli Patriot
    Abbas Approved Hamas Independence Day Attack

    Then goes on to quote WND.

    A Middle East Diary That Will Not Submit

    The moderates that ain't, what will Ms Rice say now?
    Do we send more weapons to Fatah, or wait for another moderate to emerge?

  7. Will be in Turkey for the month of May, will let you know if Ataturk is spinning in his mausaleum.

    Hoping the Mideast powder keg doesn't go off while we are there.


  8. desert rat: The American Israeli Patriot writes: Abbas Approved Hamas Independence Day Attack

    They, in turn, got this information from WorldNetDaily, which is right up there with Debka on the BS meter. Stick to the Jerusalem Post.

  9. WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- President Bush will not support a war spending bill that punishes the Iraqi government for failing to meet benchmarks for progress, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Oh, I'd rank WND ahead of debka on the believability scale.

    Not as "mainstream" as the JPost, but still pretty credible, instead of incredible.

    Nothing incredible to the WND story, not about Mr Fatah anyway.

    That fellow, Abbas, has more handles than habu.

  12. We could have a President Gul in Turkey.

    As well as a General President Gul in Pakistan.

    Makes one wonder ...

  13. General Gul, who said this, about US?

    "We are not afraid of the Americans; they can't fight on the ground. We are only concerned about their high-altitude bombers."

    "I turned against America because they betrayed the Afghan nation." ( Feb 2004)

    God will destroy America, says Hamid Gul ( Retired Pakistan General ) Daily Times, Pakistan ^ | August 30, 2003 | Khalid Hasan

    As likely the next General President, as not.

  14. As Turkey prepares to fire up its' own nuclear power generating capacity, in three plants, to be completed by 2015.

    Eygpt as well.

    The mussulmen will have an ever growing pool of infrastructure and expertise to draw upon.

  15. Take care, Mr. Acton.

    Istanbul in the springtime..lala..lala..lala....

  16. For Sale

    Catching up from a former post. Answering my own question as to what we do when Iran takes over the gulf.

  17. Lord Acton:

    Keep the EB in mind when you're in Turkey. Please jot down some thoughts and (a diary) take some photos to share with us in a guest post when you get back.


  18. Light bulbs that don't signify ideas

    This week, both the House and the Senate voted for defeat in Iraq. That's to say, Congress got tired of waiting for deadbeat insurgents to get their act together and inflict devastating military humiliation on U.S. forces. So America's legislators have voted to mandate the certainty of defeat. They want the withdrawal of American forces to begin this October, which is a faintly surreal concept: Watching CNN International around the world, many viewers unversed in America's constitutional arrangements will have been puzzled by the spectacle of a nation giving six months' notice of surrender.mmmm

    Mark Steyn..nobody does it better

  19. Take notes on 'rickshaws' you may lead a start up company when you get back, Lord Acton.

  20. Just disregard the fact that millions upon millions will be dead of starvation by the time we can 'transition back'.

  21. 'six years on and Iran is going nuclear, and no one seems minded to stop them'--from Habu's post above.

  22. 'six years on and Iran is going nuclear, and no one seems minded to stop them'

    Countdown has begun

    However, Ynet, like WND and Debka may be up there on the BS meter as teresita says.

    How could it all start? Let's go to a 'reputable' source:

    Gaza incursion inevitable...Hizbullah is trying to cross over the Litani River and into southern Lebanon

    So let's say Israel moves against Iran (its proxies first; Hamas, Hez, and Syria). In turn,
    Iran moves against Israel and the U.S.

    In 'stopping' Iran, there will more than likely be numerous 'incidents' on U.S. soil.

    How will the American public respond?

    From Ynet above -
    "Bush knows that in the event he decides to go to war with Iran, even the Democrats would support him. Olmert also knows that it would not be difficult for him to secure a similar coalition at home."

  23. Did you folks know that the bicycle is the most efficient invention of man? It gets around 3,000 miles to the gallon if you do the energy math.

  24. It was late:
    Turns out that Clarke memo REFERS to the plan that was turned over.
    Wonder if that is declassified?
    Richard Clarke,
    Pariah of us on the right when we were still true believers.
    The "Chicken Little" madly screaming about Al Queda to the Clinton and Bush Admins.

    I ain't a true believer no mo.

  25. The most efficient invention of God for travel is the human mind.
    Reality based virtual travel,
    alternate reality based space voyaging.

  26. Yeah, 'Rat,
    but the Egyptians are our ALLIES!

    Egyptian Sandmonkey Quits
    Today is the day I walk away from this blog.
    There are many reasons, each would take a post to list, and I just do not have the energy to list them. As anyone who has been reading this blog for the past month, I think it is apparent that things are not the same with me. There are reasons for that:

    One of the chief reasons is the fact that there has been too much heat around me lately. I no longer believe that my anonymity is kept, especially with State Secuirty agents lurking around my street and asking questions about me since that day.

    I ignore that, the same way I ignored all the clicking noises that my phones started to exhibit all of a sudden, or the law suit filed by Judge Mourad on my friends...
    And speaking of the state of the egyptian blogsphere, it has been pretty depressing in its own right. One has to wonder at some point the futulity of being a keyboard warrior in a country where nothing seems to matter to its people anymore. At the same time, there has been those amongst us who have loved the fame and the attention, and are now becoming the egyptian blogsphere's equivelant of Paris Hilton: They are famous for being famous, peddling the same stories and not really presenting anything of value to the debate

  27. Lord Acton:
    This guy is high on Travel to Turkey

    Recommends it over Greece for touring Islands due to very high expense due to low dollar.
    Recommends Eastern Europe also, for the same reason.
    Says Eating in London is out of sight.
    (Mentioned $700 for dinner for three?
    Hard to believe)
    Peter Greenberg

    bon voyage!

  28. My response to the anonymouse know it all at Westhawk

    You can believe whatever you want to believe:
    Lawrence Wright regards Scheuer and the now deceased John O'neill as the two most authoritative experts on Al Queda at the time.
    I'll take his word for it over your opinion.
    Richard Clark became a Pariah to those of us that were still true believers.
    Did you look at that memo?
    "Chicken Little" as he was known to the know-it-all's in the Whitehouse was SCREAMING to stop ignoring the threat posed by Al Queda.
    The memo further refers to the plans presented to the administration for dealing with Al Queda.
    "National Security Advisor Rice" LIED when she said there was no such plan.
    Your Hero GWB cleaved to losers like her, Karen Hughes, Norman Mineta, Miers, and Tenet, because he liked to stay in his comfort zone of illusion and deception of the public instead of addressing the truth.
    The result, 6 years on, is we fecklessly thrash onward, enemy undefined, "Religion of Peace" given all undue regard.
    Outstanding indeed.
    (Oneille's demise was an indirect result of Barbara Bodine's torpedoing his Cole investigation:
    GWB was going to put her in charge in Baghdad!)

  29. Desert Rat wrote:

    "Only in Syria are the seculars holding the line against the Mussulmen. There the Baathist fall back on their Hama experience, as a guiding principle of Mussulmen management. "

    And added irony ll is that Saddam was a 'secular' holding back the Islamic tide in his neck of the woods. Didn't someone once say "He's a bastard but he's our bastard." I guess that is the tack you wish US to take now DR?