News from Turkey

Still digesting a three week trip to Turkey I’ve been attentive to news from and about the people and the country.  The New York Times offers an opinion piece about moderate Islam from Mustafa Akyol, a writer I’ve run across in Turkey’s Hurriet Daily, and has impressive credentials beyond that.

His piece, Can Islamists be Liberals, starts with the evidence that democracy is taking hold even among those who have long condemned it, especially in Egypt.  He then takes up Fareed Zakaria’s warning in his book “The Future of Freedom,” about ‘illiberal democracies, ” and moves on to looking at Turkey’s recent seeming advances but rise in the fears of co-optation by the governing moderate Islamists.  Particularly good for those who have recently formed attachments to Turkey, and wish for its growth into tolerance and wide-spread personal freedom.


Sunday night, CBS’ Sixty Minutes had a revealing piece on a Turkish Imam, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the Poconos, and has a wide following across the Muslim world.  His preaching seems across the board, conciliatory and non-inflammatory.  He himself has met with major leaders of other religious traditions.  However, the source of his wealth, the web of schools he sponsors — even as they succeed with the toughest students– has raised questions.

In all the reading I’d done before going to Turkey, I’d never run across his name, or any comments on this influence on Turkish politics.  He’s on my study list, now.


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