Turkey has a tradition of practicing a more moderate type of Islam with a more secular government than other middle eastern states. Thus, secular is one of the few Islamic countries with a long-standing democracy. So not all Turks are happy with the government of President Erdogan, who, though democratically elected has become more and more authoritarian and seeks to impose Sharia law.
Last weekend, parts of the military staged a coup attempt, promising a restoration of democracy, human rights, and freedom. But Erdogan called for the people to go to the streets, and they did. With the help of police and the Turkish military that did not support the coup, the insurrection was crushed. Thousands have been arrested.
Erdogan is blaming the coup on a moderate, pro-Western cleric named Fethullah Gulen, who has many followers–dubbed “Gulenists”–in Turkey. Gulen, who denies involvement, has been living in Pennsylvania since 1999. Erdogan is demanding that the United States arrest him and extradite him back to Turkey.
In principle, we might wish for a new non-Islamist government to take over. Then again, Erdogan was democratically elected and is the lawful President of the country. President Obama denounced the coup attempt and expressed his support for Erdogan, which I guess the world’s governments are obliged to do. Even though Turkey might be an example of a democracy voting to end democracy. [Read more…]