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November 02, 2002

Rise of "Muslim Democrats" in Turkey

Turkey goes to the polls today and leading polls is an Islamic-oriented party called Justice and Development:

Justice party members only half-jokingly call themselves ``Muslim Democrats'' after the Christian Democrats of Europe. They contend a party with an Islamic flavor that is not radical could be a bridge between Europe and the Middle East at a time when Islamic radicalism is on the rise.
From my visit to Turkey a couple of years ago, I think this is right. I am glad that the runner-up party looks to be the traditional left and secular Republican People's Party with the corrupt centrist parties and the rightwing nationalist likely not even making it into parliament.

But there is a part of me that thinks it would be good for Turkey to engage its moderate religious views in government, if only in defiance of the military who has repeatedly banned religious parties and jailed their leaders. If the new Kurdish party makes it into parliament, this might really herald the emergence of full democracy in Turkey from the shadow of the barracks.

Posted by Nathan at November 2, 2002 05:28 PM

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