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31-Jul-11 World View — Major Social Change In Turkey


This morning’s key headlines from

Resignation of Turkey’s military commanders signals major social changes

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Following the mass resignation of senior military officers that we reported yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Saturday to press ahead with plans for a new consitution. “I believe our biggest duty is to prepare a new constitution, democratic and liberal, without shortcomings and meeting the needs of today. Turkey cannot continue on its path with a constitution prepared in the extraordinary conditions of a period when democracy was shelved,” said Erdogan, alluding to the time after a 1980 coup when the current charter was prepared. Zaman

The military has considered itself to be the protector of the secular Turkey, and successfully thrown out civilian governments through four coups d’état to prove it. However, a generational shift has made itself felt in the last ten years with the rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Erdogan, and a corresponding rise of traditional conservative social values, although Erdogan eschews the label “Islamist.” Instead of the military overthrowing the civil government, this time the government overthrew the military and firmly established civilian control of the military. However, there are sharp divisions between the secular and conservative, and they are just as divisive to Turkish politics as the split between the left and the right is to American politics. AP and Reuters

Killing of Libyan rebel military commander raises concerns

The National Transitional Council (NTC), which has just been recognized by the UK as the only legitimate government of Libya, is causing concern over the conflicting stories about the killing on Friday of Abdel Fatah Younes, a Gaddafi defector who had been serving as commander in chief of the rebel army. Some stories say that Younes had been arrested prior to the killing, while others say merely that the TNC had some questions for him. It’s not known who did the killing, but a rebel faction is considered most likely. Another possibility is that Gaddafi’s forces got to him, while Gaddafi has been blaming the assassination on al-Qaeda. Al-Jazeera

Egypt’s salafists dominate Friday’s rally in Tahrir Square

Protest banner reads, 'The Quran is our constitution and the Sunnah [Islamic doctrine] is our path' (Ahram)
Protest banner reads, ‘The Quran is our constitution and the Sunnah [Islamic doctrine] is our path’ (Ahram)

Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square was packed with thousands of anti-government and anti-army protesters on Friday, but for the first time, the protests were dominated not by the liberal activists, but by salafist (Islamist) groups, called for setting up an Islamic state and enforcing Sharia law in Egypt. Salafists are ultraconservatives, close to Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and more radical than the Brotherhood. They seek to emulate the austerity of Islam’s early days and oppose a wide range of practices like intermingling of the sexes that they view as “un-Islamic”. Many also reject all forms of Western cultural influence. However, although there were many salafist protesters, it’s believed that they comprise only a small minority of the Egyptian population. Egyptian Gazette and Al-Ahram

‘Arab Awakening’ spreads to Israelis

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis took part in protests held in cities across the country on Saturday night. They were protesting the high cost of housing, food and raising children, as well as low salaries. They demanded government price controls, improved education, free education from birth, free university tuition, and quality healthcare for everyone. They also demanded better salaries and benefits for social workers, police and other public servants. Jerusalem Post


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