The Corner

Turks rally for secularism

What is going on in Turkey right now is perhaps the biggest underreported foreign affairs story. Between 700,000 and one million Turks staged a rally in Istanbul–apparently the largest in Turkish history–in defense of secularism. Photos here. This follows the prime minister’s selection of Abdullah Gul, a fellow Islamist, to be the only candidate for the presidency. Despite what many Western reporters are saying, what concerns Turks is much greater than whether the first lady wears a Saudi-style headscarf. It involves the future role of women, minority sects like the Alevis, the education system, and the judiciary, not to mention the question of whether Turkey can be bought. After the AKP failed to achieve a quorum, the left-of-center Republican People’s Party has challenged the legality of the first round of the presidential vote. The Constitutional Court should rule on Wednesday.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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