Turkey: A Problem For Decades To Come

Turkey: Is secularism dead? | IN 60 SECONDS
Turkey: Is secularism dead? | IN 60 SECONDS

Can secular government and culture survive in Turkey? Fourteen years of rule by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has certainly damaged those prospects. AEI's Michael Rub...


After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded modern Turkey from the ruins. He set the entire country’s sights on the West, looking to transform the nation into something modern with a transformed legal code, a Roman-style alphabet, equal rights, for women, and separation of religion and state.

Turkey was one of the first members of NATO and gave early recognition to the modern state of Israel. Turkey stood as a bulwark against the Iron Curtain during the Cold War and fought against Mideast terrorism. Sitting between Europe and Asia, it aspired for decades to become a member of the European Union.

With the election of Recep Tayyip Erdogan as prime minister in 2003, all that changed.

Erdogan’s reforms have all but completely undone Ataturk's vision. He has taken tremendous steps to re-Islamize Turkey. He has jailed most of the military's leaders, who stood as the guardians of democracy. He has imprisoned hundreds of journalists and political opponents, restricted women’s rights in the public sphere, and Islamized school curricula, specifically for the purpose of raising up a religious generation, an Islamic generation with an Islamic government.

There are some hopefuls who believe that Turkey may return to its pre-Islamized status when Erdogan leaves office, but that may be wishful thinking. Erdogan has brainwashed an entire generation into accepting and promoting Islamic rule. Before long, Turkey may look more like its Islamic neighbors than a Western country.

Should the U.S. get involved in helping democratic parties in Turkey reassert their eminence?