Ayaan Hirsi Ali Reflects On Secularism And Islam In Turkey


Volume 73, No. 31, August 4, 2007

WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)–In the Summer 2007 issue (Vol. 24, No. 3)
of the New Perspectives Quarterly, Somali immigrant, feminist and
former Dutch legislator Ayaan Hirsi Ali has an article titled "Don’t
Disarm Secularism," analyzing the current clash between secularism
and Islam in Turkey.

Hirsi Ali, who recently published her memoir Infidel, criticizes
the leaders of the AK Party in Turkey for wanting "to run state
affairs on Islamic principles." She notes, "The proponents of Islam
in government such as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Abdullah Gul and their
Justice and Development Party have been remarkably successful. They
have understood and exploited the fact that you can use democratic
means to erode democracy."

According to Hirsi Ali, the Islamists will benefit if Turkey joins the
European Union, as the military will no longer be able to interfere
in the country’s political affairs. "[T]he army and the court in
Turkey–besides defending the country and the constitution–are also,
and maybe even more importantly, designed to protect Turkish democracy
from Islam," she says.

In her concluding paragraphs, Hirsi Ali presents her concept of
"true secularism" in Turkey: "Bringing back true secularism to Turkey
does not mean just any secularism. It means secularism that protects
individual freedoms and rights, not the ultra-nationalist kind that
breeds an environment in which Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a bestseller,
the Armenian genocide is denied and minorities are persecuted. Hrant
Dink, the Armenian editor, was murdered by such a nationalist."

Benhabib Responds

Asked about Hirsi Ali’s article, Seyla Benhabib, professor of
political science and philosophy at Yale University, told Daniele
Castellani Perelli ("Mosque and State," Dissent Magazine, Fall 2007)
that "Miss Hirsi Ali’s language is a language of confrontation that
basically presents a homogeneous, orthodox Islam as closed to reform
and transformation. And it is a language that presents a unified,
uncritical and un-reflectively positive view of liberal democracies–as
if they didn’t have their own problems and reasons to be criticized."

Benhabib says the AK party is "carrying out an incredible experiment
and it is unusual for some one who is a democratic socialist like
myself to be supporting, and watching very carefully, a party like
them. But we are all watching carefully because they also represent
a kind of pluralism in civil society, which is absolutely essential
for Turkey."

Talking about the Turkish military, Benhabib charged, "The Turkish
army has been involved in Turkish politics for the last half century
and anybody who considers themselves a liberal democrat and who wants
the return of the army to power cannot know the history of repression
caused by the army in Turkey."

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress


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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS