Turkish army chiefs boycott ceremony over Islamic headscarf

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by IBRIS, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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    Turkish army chiefs boycotted an official ceremony at the presidential palace because the president's wife wore an Islamic headscarf, the press reported Saturday.

    ANKARA- The army's top brass were conspicuous by their absence late Friday at a banquet thrown by President Abbdullah Gul to commemorate the creation of the modern, secular Turkey in 1923.

    The military organised a separate reception at the same time to give the generals an excuse not to accept the president's invitation, the reports said.

    The secularist main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) also declined Gul's invitation.

    Turkey's First Lady has worn the hijab, which covers the head and neck, since adolescence.

    The boycott was criticised by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose wife also wears the headscarf.

    The army's generals, who see themselves as custodians of the Turkish republic, regard the headscarf as a threat to the state's secular traditions and are against any relaxation of the ban on wearing them in schools and government buildings.

    Hayrunnisa Guila dn Emine Erdogan, as well as a number of other wives of leaders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), all wear headscarves tied tightly over bonnets which completly conceal their neck and hair.

    Erdogan, who has led the Islamist-rooted conservative government since 2002 reproached the generals, saying "the armed forces should have been present" at the presidential palace.

    In the past, generals have attended the banquet to celebrate the founding of the Turkish republic but this year the president extended the invitation to wives, meaning that women wearing the veil would be present.

    Gul, a former AKP cadre, has been pressing for a lifting of the ban on veils since he took office.

    The ban on headscarves on university campuses was recently eased by the Higher Education Board (YOK), which used to be a bastion of secularism but is now headed by an Erdogan supporter.

    http://www.cumhuriyet.com/?hn=186842
     
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  3. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    Guess that AKP has decided to choose a tough path that would undo all that Mustafa Kemal did in the last 70+ years. Westernization and complete removal of religion from the life of Turkish people resulted in a more practical thinking by Turkish citizens than the Islamist empire they were earlier. However, AKP's tilt to Iran, Syria and China is something that shows it is choosing Pakistan's way in a much slower rate.

    Wonder how the Military will react to the ruling party in coming days. There's already cold war between Army and AKP in Turkey.
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    untill turkish army which is secular it will be difficult for the mullah to take turkey down the same path as they did in pakistan.infact in pakistan army was willing partner and the main force behind the islamization of pakistan.
     
  5. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Turkey is one of the most progressive and forward looking Muslim majority society (the Armenian genocide being the only black spot), along with some of the former Soviet republics. Although modern Turkey is more secular than it's predecessor, the Ottoman Empire, the latter was also largely liberal in their outlook and had the will to explore modernity and a liberal outlook.

    With the failings of the more conservative societies in the Middle East, the current Turkish Army, and the leadership thereof, realises that to maintain the status quo of separation of the 'Church' and the 'State', they need to show subtle disapproval to instances and events where they could be seen as supportive of radicalisation of the society.

    Overall, a good and sensible move, that put forward the message while leaving enough ambiguity so as to make it difficult for anyone to accuse the Turkish Army of colliding or colluding with either the liberals or conservatives.
     
  6. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Anaturk once was a role model of Chinese revolutionaries in 1920's
     
  7. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well the Indian equivalent would be the Indian Army Chief boycotting the ceremony because President Pratibha Patil wears a bindi and covers her head with the pally of her saree. Or that PM Manmohan Singh wears a turban because both the head of states were not "secular".

    The Turkish concept of secularism is not the Indian concept of the same and hence there has been a widespread backlash against an anti-religion agenda inspired by this. This type of anti-religion secularism is practiced by many autocratic regimes like the ones in Central Asia, Iran before the Islamic revolution, Iraq under Saddam and present day Tunisia and Algeria.

    Indians should be better able to understand why an anti-religion secularism will never work in the long term. Secularism should be delinking of religion and politics but equal rights to all religions to practice. And that includes wearing a turban or a headscarf if you feel like it without anyone forcing you to.

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    The Turkish and Pakistani armies have a long history of co-operation from the ColdWar era and they do even to this day. Ironically it was the AKP party that actually came out of the cold war mindset and extending a hand of friendship to India. Instead of falling for over-analysis from western sources, Indians should learn to develop their analytical skills and see how things are and not who they are "perceived" to be.


    The first state level visit was under Vajpayee were PM Erdogan embarked on a new era of co-operation after the Coldwar alienation. Again the first visit by Turkish PM and president was under the AKP regime.

    Do read this SAAG paper on India Turkish relations from 2003 to get a good perspective on this issue. Particularly on how the centre right parties like DYP treated the Kashmir issue and Pakistan in the 1990s compared to how the AKP (Justice and development party) currently in power treated the Kashmir issue with Vajpayee.
    VAJPAYEE VISIT CONSOLIDATES RELATIONS WITH TURKEY
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The Indian Army, because of its traditions, will not boycott any official occasion even if the President of India wears a burkha.

    Therefore, the comparison to the Turkish military is unfortunate.

    Secularism has different meaning in different countries.

    A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/non religion over other religions/non religion.

    The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education is what could be termed as secularism of India.

    In Turkey, Attaturk changed Turkey from a decadent and a waster nation into a dynamic one by ridding itself of the hold of religion. The accoutrements, symbolising religion, was abolished so that the psychological grip of religion was seconded and modernity could flourish. And Turkey flourished thereafter without any albatross around their neck, so to say.

    Thus, the return to symbolisms of religion, to many Turks, seems to appear as a fallback to the days of decadence and wasting away and that is so evident in most of the Arab States and the chaos that is visiting the Muslim nations because of the fundamentalists, who project themselves as the true symbols of the religion and which many Muslims reject.

    In India, because there are many religions, none cares as to who wears what and who sport the symbols of their religious identities.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
  9. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    I was giving an analogy here in a positive way just to clarify. The Turkish concept of secularism as well as many Arab secular dictatorships have tended to be more anti-religion rather than non-interference in religious affairs. And these don't really coincide with progressive development. For example the Central Asia republics still are autocratic regimes with weak economies. On the other hand Oman, UAE and Qatar despite declaring Islam as state religion, tend to be very secular in practice and allow freedom of religion to all faiths as well as have been able to rapidly modernize as well.

    What Turkey has to do is find a middle ground, not go to the either extremes of using religion as a political tool or completely banning religion from public life. And the Indian example is an excellent one the Turkish army can follow.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
  10. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    That religion represents a decadent way of life and is 'anti modern' was one of the fundamental political discourse to emerge during the first half of the 20th century,it was not just Ottoman Turkey,most of the political dialogue that took place in Europe and colonial India revolved around this misplaced understanding of establishing a 'modern society'.Since most political thinkers could not define what would constitute the framework of a modern society,it was convenient for them to explain away anything that was old and traditional as anti modern and hence something to be broken away from.

    Like the communists in eastern Europe,Ataturk's Turkey was a 'secular state' that could not be achieved by popular will and thus resulted in kemal pasha's Modern secular state resorting to 'old' methods of tyranny and anti democratic laws to establish such a 'modern state'.Anybody who thought Post ottoman Turkey was modern is merely giving expression to their own inferiority complex towards their traditions and civilizational values.AKP is merely trying to restore this imbalance that was created by a Bonapartist elite, who were trying to squeeze Turkey into their tunneled vision of a modern secular state,and restore the role of the people of Turkey as the final and ultimate arbitrator in Turkey's nation building process.

    Any national Army that cannot defer to popular will, expressed through democratic means, has no right to claim to be modern or seek to be the defender of modern values.
     

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