MURAT YETKİN > Why Turkey is different from other Muslim countries

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No, it is not only the republic that Turkey marks the 89th anniversary of today.

It is not only the five strong centuries of the empire before that, which provides a unique military and administrative experience in being able to hold one of the most strategic geographic positions on earth for so long.

It is not only the parliamentary tradition going back 136 years, yes, before the republic. It is not only the multi-party democracy, belated, interrupted but able to survive. Not only an industrial economy started much before any other countries with a predominantly Muslim population, not only a market economy adopted where most of the Muslim countries up until the Arab Spring were controlled by the state or by dynasties.

The most distinctive characteristics of Turkey compared to other Muslim countries, in addition to being a multi-party democracy and a working economy, is its secular nature and its treatment of women; at least before the law.

It was thanks to the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and his fellows who managed to lead a liberation war against the invaders after World War I in order to shift an ancient regime that was falling apart into a modern one.

Yes, there are serious problems in the economy, but despite a lack of energy sources the Turkish economy has a total wealth the sum of 22 other members of the Islamic Cooperation Organization; bigger than many European Union countries and slightly better than a few of them.

Yes, there are problems in the legislative and judicial system, but it creates its own checks-and-balances system whenever executive power wants to dominate the other two.

Yes, there are questions raised about whether it will keep up with its commitments to the West (being the only Muslim member of NATO) or shift to the East; Turkey has made its choice to continue to be a part of the West.

Regardless of the daily debates over the future of the country, like the one today over how and where to celebrate Republic Day, Turkish people have tasted and liked the secular way of life, finding ways to combine it with the Islamic faith, and Turkish women would not like to be in a position to chose between their political, social and professional rights and their faith.

That is why the people, not all of their rulers, but people in many Muslim countries turn their eyes to Turkey to observe that to be a Muslim and to live a Western-oriented life is possible; this is what Turkey has to keep and protect.


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Notice on comments

Faruk Timuroglu

10/30/2012 5:05:21 PM

Reply Mara, Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda committed Sep 11, 2001 attacks in the name of god, and Gorge W. Bush invaded Iraq because god said so. Good people do good things not for compensation from or for god or someone else, but they are capable to discern right from the wrong without help from someone else, including god.

mara mcglothin

10/29/2012 11:01:03 PM

SINAN OSMAN Do you think that Allah is pleased with the Taliban for killing and throwing acid on young girls who want to go to school, or that idiot who filmed a speech calling for kidnapping and killing of "Westerners"???? Like all men MKATATURK was human and not perfect. I do believe he did the best he could possibly do and had the best interests of Turkey at heart. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I do believe we all can think of things we could do better if given a chance.

Faruk Timuroglu

10/29/2012 10:32:03 PM

Mr. Yetkin, it’s good to be proud of your country and history, despite all those achievements of republican revolution are one by one being annulled by the current government. I hope this dark period will end before causing more irreparable damages.

Sid Mark

10/29/2012 9:36:33 PM

Because Karagioz is a prominent figure in Turkeys life.Especially among politicians.

Geoge McGregor

10/29/2012 9:30:40 PM

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the last hope for secular Turkey. These who elected the current government sealed the hope and sooner than you think Turkey will be like the other Arab world. Back to light fire by two stones. Turkey, you elected it.

Ottoman Reactionary

10/29/2012 8:34:41 PM

Im asking ALL Muslim Turks: "If you beleive in Allah (GOD), do you really think that HE is satisfied with Mustafa Kemal Attaturk with things he done?"

Ararat Ararat

10/29/2012 7:10:54 PM

Turkey, an invading and occupying country founded on the corps of its murdered indigenous Christian natives, fighting a liberation war against invaders is priceless. Turkey, while being a club member of the West and NATO which are the perceived enemies of the Muslim world, calling itself a Muslim Democracy and a model for other Muslim countries in the region, must be a slap on the face of all Muslim countries.

Aslam Benli

10/29/2012 3:21:56 PM

True, and we own that to our Great Mustafa Kemal Ataturk... but the imams of the AKP and Sultan Erdogan are working hard to change that: from a secular to a semi-islamic society...

Aryeh Rapaport

10/29/2012 3:18:30 PM

Murat, Thanks! Its important, healthy for every country including Turkey to reflect on herself. Turkish history, culture, religion, language, strategic location form a great story, foundation for growth. One of T unique characteristic is secularism. In recent months & years T changed; became more Islamic by electing Islamic govt & moving forward with religious, Islamic agenda. Islamic change worries me. T can be unique country or just another Islamist extremist country. May good prevail!

Richard Dickens

10/29/2012 3:05:00 PM

THREE words would be enough to answer your question, Mr. Yetkin. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who resurrected a new modern country (republic) from the ashes of an empire. By the way, Turkey is not a muslim country. Almost all the nation is muslim, but I have just stated... ALMOST... AND Turkey is a SECULAR one. NOT an Islamic country. Wording is important!!!
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