Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hold the Turkey, pass the mashed potatoes!

Nobody thinks that Turkish membership in the European Union would send a more positive message to the Islamic world then I. To have an Islamic nation join the greatest multi-national achievement of mutual respect for liberal democratic principles in the history of the world would send a clear message that Islam and the principles of a free and enlightened society are not incompatible.

That is all really good sentiment. I just have to point out one little wrinkle in this grand plan; Turkey does not embrace the values espoused by the European Union. There is clearly a cultural difference between Europe and Turkey, but that should not be a barrier. There are cultural differences between Portugal and Finland too, but both Finland and Portugal embrace the fundamental belief that people are endowed with basic human rights.

I offer as evidence the recent events that occurred in Denmark when Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan stormed out of a joint press conference with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh-Rasmussen when he spotted a Kurdish journalist from the RojTV network. The Turks maintain that RojTV has ties Kurdish separatist groups that employ terrorist techniques in their struggle.

I can certainly understand the Turkish government’s desire to stamp out terrorism, but many human rights groups are alarmed with the repressive circumstances that Kurds in Turkey exist under.

This incident occurred shortly after Erdogan chastised the Danish Prime Minister for not punishing the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten which had published caricatures of the prophet Mohammed. For those that don’t know, caricaturizing the prophet is considered sacrilegious by Muslims. Fogh-Rasmussen responded simply by saying that if the Turkish government thought that it was within his power to punish the newspaper that had misunderstood the free press principles that Danes (and more over, Europeans) cherish.

There was a paid advertising insert in the newest issue of Foreign Policy magazine obviously promoting all of the progress that Turkey has made in an effort to join the economic big boys club that is the European Union. I applaud them for all their progress, but they are not there yet. They have not, as a society, grasped that freedom, liberty, and justice are more than just marketing ploys.

Some may point out that minorities in Europe subsist under some pretty harsh circumstances as well, to which I reply; yes, absolutely they do, but there is simply no comparison. Turkey may one day be ready to join the European Union, but that day has not yet come. When they show the respect for all voices, even voices of dissent, then the dialogue towards their integration into Europe can begin. Not before.

1 comment:

gracie said...

i couldn't agree more with you freak. they have a few more steps to make to catch up with the majority of the other nations in the EU.

i can't help but feel that entering too soon could potentially be detrimental in the long run.