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romanic's Journal
romanic's Journal
May 1, 2016

Europe's First Islamic Constitution? What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Calls by a top member of the ruling party of Turkey for an Islamic constitution to replace the secular basic law currently in place in the country, a NATO member and crucial U.S. ally, have been rejected by politicians from all stripes, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, himself a pious Muslim. But as Erdogan is trying to avoid a debate that could harm him politically, the question remains: How should the relationship between state and religion be defined in a country with a 99 per cent Muslim population?

Turkey’s current constitution, which enshrines the principle of secularism in Article 2, was drawn up under military rule in 1982. All parties in Ankara agree that a completely new text should be written to give Turkey a more modern and more democratic outlook.

Erdogan is trying to convince Turks to also change the form of government from the current parliamentary to a U.S. style presidential one, with himself at the helm. The opposition says his real aim is absolute power without the sort of checks and balances that limit executive excesses elsewhere, amid speculation in the media that a referendum on a new constitution could be called this year. Erdogan cannot be sure that a majority of Turks would accept a presidential system in such a vote, with some polls saying support for his plan is as low as 35 per cent.

That is why remarks by Parliamentary Speaker Ismail Kahraman about the need for an Islamic constitution came at a bad time for Erdogan. Kahraman, a member of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), told a conference in Istanbul on April 25 that secularism should not even be mentioned in the planned new constitution. “We are an Islamic country,” Kahraman said. “There has to be a devout constitution.”

Alarming but it seems like many Turks disagree and are uneasy by such laws.

But many Turks are less enthusiastic. Rejection of calls to bring Turkey’s constitution into line with Islamic rules is not limited to die-hard secularists. “Even many devout Turks (are) likely to be queasy about this,” Howard Eissenstat, a specialist on Turkey at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY, tweeted about Kahraman’s statement. Eissenstat pointed to polls showing that only a minority of 12 per cent of Turks want their country to be ruled by Islamic law and that 90 per cent think women’s decision to cover their hair should be voluntary.

April 27, 2016

Left Outside the Social-Justice Movement's Small Tent

Mahad Olad, a high school student, used to be active in “the local social-justice scene” around Minneapolis, Minnesota, attending meetings and leading demonstrations for feminist, LGBT, and anti-racism groups. Then he became disillusioned.

When he was just 16, the ACLU profiled the teen activist. He came to the U.S. as a child. Later, his immigrant parents took him back to their home country, Kenya, so that their son could experience what it was like to live in that culture as well.

“In Kenya, he saw the harsh realities faced by women trying to access reproductive health-care services and how the gay and lesbian community is forced to live underground,” the ACLU explained. “While Mahad cares about many social-justice and civil-liberties issues, he is especially drawn to reproductive freedom and LGBT rights because of his experience in Kenya. He has been one of his school's biggest advocates for comprehensive sex education and has helped to organize events at his school to teach students important information about comprehensive safe-sex practices, something that his school does not teach in class.”

Two years later he was sending off a frustrated email to me.

“I genuinely cared about these causes—still do,” he wrote, referencing everything from anti-racism to LGBT rights to reproductive health. “I believed I was doing something noble. At the same time,” he added, “a large part of me was not quite in agreement with some of the views and concepts espoused by social-justice groups. Their pro-censorship tendencies, fixation with intersectionality, and constant uproar over seemingly trivial and innocuous matters like ‘cultural appropriation’ and ‘microaggressions’ went against my civil-libertarian sensibilities.”

He fit in fine at the ACLU. But interacting with social-justice groups made up of high school and college students, he increasingly found himself having to bite his tongue.

“I never voiced my personal disagreements because having dissenting views is strictly forbidden in the activist circles I was a part of,” he explained. “If you’re white, you will be charged with being a ‘bad ally.’ (There's also certain gatherings you cannot come to because your mere presence might be threatening.) If you’re a person of color, your disagreements will usually be dismissed as some form of ‘internalized racism,’ ‘internalized sexism,’ or ‘respectability politics,’ among many other activist jargon's thrown at individuals who do not conform the groups views.”


I definitely empathize with this kid and found myself nodding a lot at points in the article. The part where he describes being called a "uncle Tom" really struck me. Something's very corrupt in many of these youth-led social justice groups.

Profile Information

Name: Roman
Gender: Male
Hometown: Michigan
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Feb 12, 2015, 07:59 PM
Number of posts: 2,841

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