Thursday, August 16, 2007

Issues of Secularism Remain In Turkey's New Presidential Election

In Turkey, now that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated that he will again nominate Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul for President, secular parties are again questioning whether the nomination is consistent with Turkey's tradition as a secular state. (See prior posting.) In Gul's previous run for President, much attention was focused on the fact that his wife wears an Islamic headscarf. Gul says that the country's constitution guarantees his wife the right to wear her religious symbol, and that he does not expect that this will become an issue with the Turkish military this time. Last time Gul ultimately withdrew and new Parliamentary elections were held. Yesterday, both Reuters and the Associated Press ran long articles on the background of the upcoming presidential selection by Parliament and the religious-secular clash posed by Gul's candidacy.