Islamists Strike Again in Turkey
Those eager to admit Turkey into the European Union (and this includes the geo-politically obtuse President Bush) might want to take note of this morning’s incident in a Turkish courtroom. Prominent Judge Mustafa Yucel Ozbilgin was assassinated, apparently by a radical Islamist, inside his own courtroom.
The attacker was apparently carrying papers that identified him as a lawyer - although it is not known if these were genuine - and made it past security guards undetected.What did Judge Ozbilgin do to incur the wrath of Islamists?
He reportedly burst into a committee meeting of the Council of State, the top administrative court, at 1000 local time (0700 GMT) shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is great) as he fired his weapon.
Tansel Colasan, deputy head of the Council of State, said the attacker yelled "I am the soldier of God", and said he was carrying out the attack to protest against the court's decision on headscarves.
He was arrested immediately.
Judge Mustafa Birden made headlines earlier this year when he ruled that schoolteachers, who are banned from wearing the Islamic headscarf at work, could not cover their heads even on their way to school.The judge’s assassination has sent shockwaves throughout Turkey’s ruling class.
An Islamist newspaper printed photographs of him and fellow judges from the court's second chamber, which deals with education issues.
The court's decision on headscarves has been condemned as illegal by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling party has Islamist roots.Today’s assassination comes as a surprise only to those who are unwilling to deal with the reality of Islam. Turkey’s eighty year flirtation with Western-style secular democracy has been made possible only by frequent interventions of the Turkish military, which rolls out periodically – and quite unconstitutionally – to squash the Islamists (1960, 1971, 1980, 1997). But they always come back. Recent Turkish elections gave the Islamists considerable presence in the Turkish national legislature, and their power is only expected to grow (barring another military crackdown). Islamists will never, for religious reasons, accept Western secular government. Never. It runs counter to Islamic culture and tradition, which are far to deeply rooted in Islamic soil to be extirpated by Western idealists. And the Islamists will always win, because they are willing to resort to violence first, carrying out the worst forms of violence, and continue the violence indefinitely. The forces of secularism and "moderation" simply don’t have that sort of resolve. So much for President Bush’s notion that democracy will be a panaceia for the Islamic world’s problems. The rising popularity of Islamists in Turkey should also bring an immediate end to any discussion of Turkey’s entry into the EU. Once an EU member, Turks would have freedom to move across Europe. Worse, the EU’s second most populous nation would be a Muslim country whose government is increasingly dominated by Islamists. What sort of policies would the EU come to favor in such a situation? Policies friendly to the US? Not likely. Policies friendly to preserving Europe’s Western Heritage? Not a chance. Policies friendly to advancing Muslim interests inside Europe? Bingo. Will President Bush grasp this? Probably not.
Mr Erdogan, though, was quick to condemn Wednesday's attack, and said the culprit would be severely punished.
Nevertheless Deniz Baykal, chairman of the secularist main opposition Republican People's Party, said the government's policies were responsible.
"I hope those who still can't see where Turkey is being dragged, who refuse to see it, will take this as a warning," he said.
"Unfortunately, blood has spilled into politics in Turkey. Turkey is being dragged into a very dangerous situation. Everybody should come to their senses."
President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said the attack would not undermine Turkey's secular constitution.
"These attacks will never reach their goal," he said, adding that the justice system would not be intimidated and would be loyal "to the secular and democratic republic".