Turks don't want to lose freedom to Islamist


Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has vowed to continue in his bid to become the country's next president despite opposition from lawmakers and military chiefs and a massive public demonstration in Istanbul on Sunday.

Gul's nomination, supported by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has raised concerns among Turkey's secular establishment over growing Islamist influence within government.

In a parliamentary vote on Friday, Gul fell short of the two-thirds majority necessary to be elected after opposition lawmakers boycotted the process and called on Turkey's constitional court to render it void.

On Friday evening military chiefs said in a statement they could intervene if the election process threatened to undermine Turkish secularism.

But Gul told reporters on Sunday: "It is out of the question to withdraw my candidacy. The Constitutional Court will make the right decision."

On Sunday at least 300,000 demonstrators gathered in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, to protest against Erdogan's Islamist-influenced government in defense of the country's secular political traditions, The Associated Press reported.

"Turkey is secular and will remain secular," flag-waving protesters shouted as they demanded the resignation of the government and called Erdogan a traitor.

"This government is the enemy of Ataturk," said 63-year-old Ahmet Yurdakul, a retired public worker, invoking the memory of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founded of the modern Turkish republic. "They want to drag Turkey to the dark ages.

The rally was the second anti-government demonstration in two weeks after around 300,000 people gathered in the capital, Ankara, a fortnight ago.

"Neither Sharia, nor coup but fully democratic Turkey," read a banner carried by a demonstrator, in reference to Friday's statement by the military which attracted condemnation Saturday by Turkey's government as well from the European Union, the U.S. and human rights groups.


The probability that Gul, whose wife wears the traditional Muslim head scarf, will become the president -- possibly bolstering the role of religion in politics -- has caused unease in the vastly secular nation.

"We don't want a covered woman in Ataturk's presidential palace," said Ayse Bari, a 67-year-old housewife, during Sunday's protests, AP reported. "We want civilized, modern people there."

The Turks sense a loss of freedom coming if the Islamist are in power and they have good reason. Perverts in Iran are arresting women for their clothes and have their hair exposed. I think the government will not call a new election because it knows its policies will be rejected. This may be a case where the military may be needed to restore democratic rule.

Update: Gateway Pundit reports the crowd opposed to the Islamist swelled to over a million protesters.


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