Monday, May 07, 2007

Secularists force withdrawal of Turkish candidate

Previously I reported that...
Turkey and Pakistan, two influential Muslim states, have seen massive public demonstrations in recent days in which huge crowds protested that Islam was playing too big a role in public affairs.
Well, it appears that the people are getting their wish...

From USA Today
The ruling party's candidate withdrew his candidacy for Turkey's presidency on Sunday in a standoff over the nation's tradition of keeping Islam out of the political system.

Abdullah Gul withdrew after his AK party, which controls the parliament with a majority of its members, failed to gain a quorum to do business.

"After this … my candidacy is out of the question," said Gul, who is currently Turkey's foreign minister. "I don't feel resentment."

The parliament elects presidents for a single seven-year term and needed a two-thirds quorum to vote on Gul, the only candidate in the running. But legislators from the secular party boycotted, leaving the parliament short of the 367 legislators needed to vote.

The stalemate reveals the extent of the divide between Turks who want to preserve the strict separation of mosque and state and a growing class of more religiously minded people who want to relax curbs on religious symbols and expression in government.

The latter group helped elect Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK party. With a majority in the parliament, the party has promoted economic reforms to qualify for membership in the European Union, wooed foreign investors and improved Turkey's record on human rights.

Having a president from the prime minister's AK Party would allow the party to impose religion on society, opponents say. The president has broad powers, including the power to veto legislation and serving as commander in chief of the military.[snip]

The game is not yet over for Erdogan. The prime minister is pushing for constitutional amendments in the parliament that would let the public, rather than the parliament, elect the president for a maximum of two five-year terms.

"The only point of stability, the only concept we can have some faith in, are the citizens of this country," said Egemen Bagis, an AK Party lawmaker. "It will be up to the Turkish nation to decide whom they want to govern them."
Well, isn't this some good news in the dreary world of the Middle East! See, it can happen, democracy can work in the middle east.Or aare oyu saying that it can only work for Turks and not Arabs? Careful, that would make you a racist! hehe

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