24 November 2008

All Change Please

Post No 8

A simple question please:
If a nation's constitution is out of touch with the majority of its population,
which should we change - the constitution or the population???
Well, the answer is so obvious that it hardly needs spelling out:
Of course we should change the constitution to reflect the majority views.

The contortions that Turkey is going through is perhaps the best current
example of this dilemma and in the case of Turkey is a direct consequence
of a secular constitution being imposed upon a Muslim population without
it being asked what it wanted.
Whilst one can understand that it may not have been practically possible to
hold a referendum or something similar in the aftermath of the collapse of the
Ottoman Empire at the end of World War 1, it is difficult to find any excuse not
to do so as soon as possible afterwards, when things had stabilised.
Of all Muslim nations, Turkey is perhaps the purest of all - whichever source you
consult you learn that more than 99% of the population are Muslim, whether it
is 99,0 or 99,3 or 99,6 is hardly relevant, the fact is that it is a pure Muslim nation
with microscopic minorities of other faiths.
In the mainstream media Turkey is invariably described as a "majority Muslim nation"
and whilst technically correct it is a grossly misleading label as anything over 50%
would mean a majority. I have on several occasions emailed the BBC about this and
asked them to reconsider using the term.

The governing AK party, having won last year's elections with an incredible 46-point-
something % (round that up to AK47??), an enviable increase of 12% over the last result,
has a resounding mandate and is in a perfect position to redress that imbalance between
constitution and people and could do so fairly simply by putting a long list of amendments
to a referendum. And it would probably do so if it felt secure that the generals would stay
out of it all but after the famous attempted "e-coup" before Abdullah Gul's election to
the presidency it is clear that, as usual, the generals would prevent the views of the vast
majority being written into law. So much for democracy!
To its credit, the European Union has made it very clear that the democratic process must
be respected if Turkey wants to proceed as planned on the road to membership of the EU.
Quite a dilemma for the EU as its insistence on this very issue directly or indirectly lends
support to a popularly elected party whose Islamic roots are clear and deep - and to an
outside observer it seems that the green leaves of Islam could and would be sprouting
freely in Turkey if the secular elite, epitomised by the military, would accept the majority
verdict gracefully.

By not doing so, the minority is in effect asking the majority to change - and more or
less openly threatening to intervene if that majority attempts to stand on its democratic rights.
Clearly an unstable situation which must be resolved and as soon as possible.

And as for the EU supporting the elected goverment of Turkey - why is the EU not supporting
the fairly elected Hamas-government of Occupied Palestine?

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