- Beretta leaves Maryland over gun laws, heads for Tennessee
- Neal Boortz defends Hillary Clinton for representing child rapist
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Top federal judge uses pizza to explain complex Obamacare situation
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Drought-plagued Californians turn to paint to keep lawns green
- ISIL now forcing Iraqi shopkeepers to veil mannequins in Mosul
- 11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die
- Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia
- Turkish P.M. Erdogan won’t speak to Obama, but he’ll take calls from Biden
Question of the Day
U.S. diplomats are still wrestling with the question of whether Turkey’s ruling party is part of a fundamentalist Muslim movement bent on imposing brutal Islamic law on a country founded on democratic secular principles.
In 2007, the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara reported on both sides of the issue, outlining the view of critics suspicious of the Justice and Development Party and of supporters who argue that the party is basically a conservative, pro-Western organization dedicated to reforming Islam.
“Ever since its victory in the 2002 general election, rumors and suspicion have swirled around the ruling Justice and Development Party’s ‘secret’ Islamist agenda,” Janice G. Weiner wrote in a confidential diplomatic cable to the State Department.
Some “doubters are relieved to find an AKP that appears conservative, Western, as well as Islam-oriented, reform-minded and democratic,” she said, referring to the party by its Turkish initials.
However “others remain convinced that AKP is determined to impose [Islamic] sharia law in Turkey and undermine the country’s secular system,” Ms. Weiner added in the cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
“The issue either way is circumstantial, but the issue is central to Turkey’s future,” she said.
Critics warn that the AKP has Islamist roots dating to its predecessor, the Welfare Party, established in 1993. At the time, current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now AKP leader, was the Welfare Party mayor of Istanbul and “praised God that he was a servant of sharia,” Ms. Weiner wrote. Mr. Erdogan even referred to himself as the “imam of Istanbul.”
In 1998, Mr. Erdogan was jailed for “inciting religious hatred” and served four months of a 10-month sentence, she added. Turkey’s Constitutional Court banned the Welfare Party that year, finding it in violation of the country’s secular values.
By the 2002 elections, Mr. Erdogan “moderated his rhetoric, making it easier for voters to turn to the AKP … as an alternative to traditional parties mired in scandals, corruption and an economic crisis.”
“Conspiracy theorists and concerned secularists alike build the case against AKP by using persuasive but largely circumstantial evidence,” Ms. Weiner added.
Religious-freedom advocates in Washington are outraged that Turkish-Cypriot authorities shut down a Christmas service at a Greek Orthodox church in a “bureaucratic ploy” aimed at harassing Christians in a Muslim-majority nation recognized only by Turkey.
Police stopped the Christmas celebration at the Church of Saint Sinesios in the village of Rizokarpaso because church officials failed to get permission for the service from the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The Greek Orthodox congregation numbers about 350 people.
“It is wrong and a symbol of religious intolerance and repressive policies of Turkish-Cypriot authorities supported by Turkey’s occupation troops to require such a small church community to seek permission to hold Christmas liturgy,” said Leonard Leo, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
- Embassy Row: India strikes back over diplomat's arrest
- Embassy Row: India 'shocked,' 'appalled' by consular officer's arrest
- Embassy Row: Wife of Christian held in Iran feels abandoned by Obama
- Wife of jailed U.S. Christian in Iran calls for White House help
- Senate debate: Is Santa Claus an American citizen?
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
The president could pay the full price for ignoring Congress
- David Perdue defeats Jack Kingston in Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
- 'Straight White Guy Festival' supposedly set for Ohio park
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps commandant, slams Obama's handling of Iraq
- Pentagon team dispatched to Ukraine amid crisis with Russia
- BERMAN & MADYOON: An Iranian-Turkish reset
- MAY: Barbarians at Jordan's gate
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq