Howard Fineman's recent Newsweek article on Turkey

Howard Fineman wrote an article on Turkey in Newsweek on August 5, 2010.

Overall, it is a nice and insightful article. And as someone who is originally from Turkey, I also found it to be flattering...

Nevertheless, he did what many right-wing/neo-conservative pundits are doing these days: while acknowledging the humongous progress the party of Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AK Party), the current Turkish premier, made in the last seven or so years, they keep qualifying/blemishing their compliments by implying that Erdogan's party is (feared) to slowly change Turkey to an Islamic state. For example, Howard Fineman writes --while discussing an upcoming Turkish referendum on a constitutional-amendments package prepared by AK Party: “Then, the focus will turn to next month’s referendum on amending the Turkish Constitution to reduce the military’s traditionally large role in society—and to further erode Atatürk’s determined secularism.”

Now just to make my point, I have looked at Erdogan's party's proposed package of constitutional change , and did not see anything that will “erode Ataturk’s determined secularism.” Incidentally, this proposed constitutional change has been supported and hailed as positive by the Europeans. This is not surprising because it will be a substantive move for Turkey from an originally military-crafted constitution with an almost totalitarian tinge to one imbued with promising reforms with significant improvements on basic human rights, minority rights, and women's rights, just to name a few.

So, I cannot help but ask where these right-wing/conservative writers are getting their ideas about Erdogan and his party from. If one looks at the AK Party's agenda, one finds a perfectly modern and progressive program. "Oh, he has a secret agenda which he does not disclose yet," they would retort. The guy has been in power for almost eights years, and he apparently is still waiting to make good on this "secret" plan. In fact, Erdogan publicly announced that he would run only one more term, if elected, to run the country as a prime minister, and then resign from his party. An unprecedented and praise-worthy stance for someone who is only 56 years old and very popular with Turkish people, and is seen as rarely as black swans, especially in Turkey, where politicians usually die as active politicians.

Serkan Zorba

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