Turkey’s “deep state” runs into shallow water

July 13, 2008 - 0:0

After revoking a law allowing female students to wear headscarves on university campuses last month, Turkey’s Constitutional Court is now examining a case which could ban the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on charges that it is undermining the country’s secular system.

On Thursday, the AKP presented its final defense to the Constitutional Court before the 11 judges who are to determine the verdict.
These moves are undermining the democratization process in a country which is seeking to join the European Union and which the West regards as a model of democracy for Muslim states in general and Middle Eastern countries in particular.
These actions also run contrary to the aspirations of the Turkish people, who overwhelmingly voted for the AKP in two successive elections in 2002 and 2007, despite the fact that in last year’s election the opposition launched a massive propaganda campaign against the AKP which accused it of attempting to undermine the secular system.
Under the AKP, Turkey has made great strides both at home and abroad. The AKP has brought economic prosperity, reduced unemployment, tamed inflation, provided more political freedom, and, more importantly, established political stability after years of tumultuous political uncertainty.
It has brought Turkey closer to European Union accession and raised the country’s profile in the international arena by adopting a more independent foreign policy and assuming the role of troubleshooter in the Middle East conflict through its mediation in talks between Syria and Israel.
If the opposition forces are not just jealous of the AKP’s achievements and are really progressive, as they claim to be, they should try to integrate the country into the community of democratic states and should not violate the human rights and hinder the education of female university students who have voluntarily decided to wear the headscarf.
The opposition should wait and try their luck in the next election since their efforts to turn the clock back will get them nowhere. The only reasonable course of action is to allow Turkey to proceed along the path of democratization. Any detour from this path would set the country back years, diminish its international status, and harm Turkish citizens’ sense of national pride.