I asked my local guide, "What's going on? Don't they like God?"
She said, "Yes, we love God here in Turkey, but — with the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism just over the border in Iran — we are very concerned about the fragile and precious separation of mosque and state in our country."
I was surprised to learn that their hard-won constitution actually requires that the military overthrow the government if it ever becomes a theocracy.
Turkey still is a secular nation. But lately, with each election, the line between mosque and state gets a little more blurred. Turkey, like so much of today's world, is in a tug-of-war between secular forces and right-wing fundamentalism. And, just as in other Islamic lands, Turkish fundamentalist groups use fear of perceived American meddling to win public support. With the ramped-up economic metabolism that comes with globalization, people whose time-honored ways are threatened cling to what makes their cultures and societies unique. They seek solace in their rituals, religion, and traditions.
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You are reading "Defending the Separation of Mosque and State...for Now", an entry posted on 30 December 2009 by Rick Steves.