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Old 04-24-2007   #9
tequila
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NYTIMES report.

Quote:
Turkey’s majority political party today chose a prominent leader with an Islamic background to compete for the presidency, a move expected to extend the party’s reach into the heart of Turkey’s secular establishment — and boost a new class of self-described Muslim moderates — for the first time in this country’s history.

The choice of Abdullah Gul, 56, the affable, English-speaking foreign minister who is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s closest political ally, is expected to be confirmed by parliament in several rounds of voting that begin on Friday.

Turkey is a Muslim country, but its state, set up in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is strictly secular, and the presidency is its most important office. The selection of Mr. Gul, whose wife wears a head scarf, is not likely to sit well with secular Turks, some of whom worry that their lifestyles — drinking alcohol, wearing miniskirts, and swimming in co-ed pools — could eventually be in danger.

Mr. Gul, an agile reformer who has long been his party’s public face abroad, nodded to those concerns in a press conference in Ankara after his nomination today, saying, “Our differences are our richness.” His candidacy was a minor concession. The choice most distasteful to the secular establishment was Mr. Erdogan himself, who deftly bowed out.

...

“These are the new forces, the new social powers,” said Ali Bulac, a columnist for a conservative, mainstream newspaper in Istanbul. “They are very devout. They don’t drink. They don’t gamble. They don’t take holidays.”

“They are loaded with a huge energy.” he added. “This energy has been blocked by the state.”

That energy has helped drive a spectacular economic boom in Turkey. In the country’s two largest cities, progress dazzles. Shiny new fuel-efficient taxis zip down tulip-lined streets. New parks have opened. The air is no longer polluted. The economy has doubled in size in the four years since the AK party came to power, a growth spurt that was kept on track by its strict adherence to an economic program prescribed by the International Monetary Fund ...
This picture of an AK Party rally surprised me. Not many Arab Islamists feature female background dancers.


Last edited by tequila; 04-25-2007 at 09:22 AM.
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