Sunday, April 29, 2007

One million Turks say no to 'Islamic' government

My hat off to the Turkish people for strongly adhering to the secularist legacy of Kemal Ataturk. Bravo!:

Reuters-As many as one million people rallied in a sea of red Turkish flags in Istanbul on Sunday, accusing the government of planning an Islamist state and demanding it withdraw its presidential candidate.

The protesters flooded the streets of Turkey's largest city, praising the army and denouncing Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, whose AK Party enjoys a huge parliamentary majority, as a threat to a secular order separating state and religion.

Secularists, including army generals and judges, say Erdogan and Gul will show their true colors once they have the presidency, the last major state institution outside their control, and boost the role of religion in Turkish life.

..."Turkey is secular and will remain secular", and "shoulder to shoulder against sharia (Islamic law)," they chanted carrying portraits of the nation's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

"We are here to stop the creation of an Islamic state," said businessman Irfan Kadim, 35. "We fear for the secular republic."

Many secularists are worried by Gul's Islamist past and the fact his wife wears the Muslim headscarf, banned in universities and public offices. They fear she will wear it as a first lady.

Background story:

AP-...Starting in 1923 in the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, Ataturk, a soldier, set about a series of secular reforms that imposed Western laws, replaced Arabic script with the Latin alphabet, banned Islamic dress and granted women the right to vote.

The ruling party, however, has supported religious schools and tried to lift the ban on Islamic head scarves in public offices and schools. Secularists are also uncomfortable with the idea of Gul's wife, Hayrunisa, being in the presidential palace because she wears the traditional Muslim head scarf.

"We don't want a covered woman in Ataturk's presidential palace," said Ayse Bari, a 67-year-old homemaker. "We want civilized, modern people there."