“My dictatorship has only one aim: to make any sort of new dictatorship impossible in Turkey”
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk 1881-1938
Is there a new Ataturk to be found in Iraq? Carving a new republic out of the dying Ottoman Empire Ataturk turned his countries future towards the west. In the present political environment the one thing that’s stands out in his vision for his country is the complete and militant separation of religion and state. On a visit to Istanbul I wondered through the book bazaar and ended up in front of the university. There was a small protest going on in front of the university it seems Islamic women students wanted to wear scarves to cover their heads. This is seen by the government as an expression of religion that is not allowed in school, the workplace or any civic situation. The group on the steps of the school numbered less than a hundred to the untrained eye but in the plaza before the school were three phalanxes of riot police all decked out in the latest gear of lexan shields, kevlar vests and helmets with visors but they were not carrying batons but automatic rifles. This was over wearing scarves! Oh did I mention the TANK????
No an Atataurk will not emerge in Iraq. There will be no separation of religion and state in the newly “liberated” Iraq. Saddam tried to run the country in a fascist socialist manner and denied the populist of their religious freedom. The religious will find a way to celebrate their belief and they demonstrated that in Karbala by chanting beating themselves with iron whips and slamming their heads with swords till their white robes were covered with blood, all the while calling for U.S forces to get out of Iraq NOW!!. This, I’m sure, was not the welcome Bush was hoping for.
We pride ourselves in separating our government from our religion. The reason is to protect different religions from being suppressed by a government dominated by any one religion. Turkey separates the government from the religions to protect the government. Iraq will have to find a way to bring their different faiths in line with a governing system that can encompass all the people of the region. Not an easy task.