Lonely voice of the Secular Turkey:
The possibility of Turkey having its first observant Muslim President since the founding of the republic has plunged the country in to political chaos. The ruling AKP Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) or Justice and Development Party was forced to call a general election after Turkey's highest court blocked Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's Presidential nomination due to his perceived 'Islamic credentials.'
The current political crisis highlights the desperate measures Turkey's deeply secular military and civil institutions are resorting to in order to curb peoples growing aspirations for Islam. In protest at Abdullah Gul's candidacy 700,000 people marched through Istanbul last week waving the national flag representing Turkey's long secular tradition and shouting, "Turkey is secular and will remain secular!"
The Turkish military also released a statement threatening the government over its nomination of Abdullah Gul for the Presidency.
"It should not be forgotten that the Turkish armed forces are a side in this debate and are a staunch defender of secularism," the statement said.
"The Turkish armed forces are against those debates... and will display their position and attitudes when it becomes necessary. No-one should doubt that."
The Turkish military has forced out numerous governments over the decades in its fanatical pursuit of ensuring Turkey remains loyal to its secular roots. The last coup was on 28th February 1997 when the 'Islamic' Refah Party (Welfare Party) was forced out of government and later banned by the Turkish constitutional court for threatening the secular nature of the Republic. A decision later upheld by the European Court of Justice. The Refah Party was the largest political party at the time with over 4 million members.
The ruling AKP party has its roots in the Refah Party. The Presidential Candidate Abdullah Gul is a former Refah Party MP as are many of the current AKP MP 's. The AKP party swept to power in November 2002 after Turks abandoned the staunchly secular parties. Although AKP is still a secular party the perceived Islamic inclinations of its members mean it's viewed by many as an 'Islamic' party.
The current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s wife, along with Abdullah Gul's wife both wear the hijab, a growing trend in Turkey where hijab is officially banned in universities and government offices.
Many within Turkey still revere Ataturk and the secular republic he established. Ahmet Yurdakul, a 63-year-old, a retired government employee, who attended the Istanbul protest said, "It wants to drag Turkey to the dark ages."
But this argument that secularism has brought progress to Turkey is a myth.A few months after the destruction of the Khilafah on 24th July, Turkey's independence was officially recognised with the signing of the Lausanne Treaty. Britain and its allies withdrew all their troops that had occupied Turkey since the end of the First World War. In response to this, protests were made in the House of Commons to the British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon, for recognising Turkey's independence. Lord Curzon replied:
"The situation now is that Turkey is dead and will never rise again, because we have destroyed its moral strength, the Caliphate and Islam."
Lord Curzon's statement holds true to this day. Turkey, seat of the last Khilafah was a world superpower. It brought justice and progress to lands throughout Eastern Europe and had influence throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Turkey today is begging just to be accepted for membership talks by the EU, and subjecting itself to humiliating conditions such as Turkey's recognition of Cyprus. The only influence Turkey can exercise in the region is through its membership of NATO where it fulfils American objectives with the NATO led force in Afghanistan. Even this hasn't saved it from being humiliated by the Americans.
At the beginning of the Iraq war in July 2003, American troops stormed a barracks in Northern Iraq and captured 11 Turkish Special Forces soldiers.
The incident even led to an anti-American film being produced about the incident called Kurtlar Vadisi or Valley of the Wolves. In the first ten days alone 2.5 million Turks watched the film showing the deep felt humiliation felt by the incident.
This humiliation at the hands of the Americans and EU will continue for Turkey unless it shakes off the shackles of secularism and returns to its true Islamic roots of the Khilafah. Only by re-establishing the Khilafah will Turkeys political, economic and international woes come to a halt.
Secularism has only managed to take root in Turkey through force and coercion. When Mustafa Kemal came to power and officially abolished the Khilafah he instigated many reforms to remove Islam from the people. Hijabs were banned and western dress codes enforced on the people. Any Islamic tendencies were brutally suppressed. After Mustafa Kemal's death the army took up his legacy and over the past few decades has performed coup after coup against governments it didn't agree with.
Muslims in Turkey on both sides of the debate want a strong, progressive and just country. Secularism has not provided any of this.
In fact, secularists within the Muslim world as a whole are now a dwindling minority with public opinion turning to the reestablishment of the Khilafah.