Wednesday, 3 October 2007

AK Party - the real story?

A friend, currently engineering in Central Asia, has two close Turkish colleagues who give amusingly opposite reasons for distrusting the AK Party who won this summer's general election in their home country.

(A) I am a secularist republican and this party smacks of Islamism and reactionary tendencies.

I hardly think so. Softening Ataturk's legacy would not do any harm, and no Islamist-led nation would make it into the EU in the forseeable future, which is something that Erdogan (PM) and Gul (President) are very keen on.

(B) I am a devout Muslim and this party is an American plot to undermine Islam by institutionalising it, thereby robbing it of its spiritual power.

Since when did institutionalising Islam do it any harm!? Apologies if I sound a little cynical, but that's one of the main reasons for its success and longevity. By its very nature Islam is a total system, an explicitly socio-political religion. And just because some of its institutionalising has happened at the level of village elders rather than the governments of nation states doesn't mean it hasn't happened and it hasn't worked. [Plus, the old "it's a foreign plot" line is wearing a bit thin; it has been used as a blanket excuse for quite a lot in that part of the world for quite a long time...]

Ironically, both these opinions sound extremely Western!