The balance of power between the forces of radical Islam and Western democracy underwent a monumental sea change on Sunday.58% of the voters in Turkey approved of a referendum that will bolster the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and serve to transform the once secular nation into an Islamic republic.
THE LAST CRUSADE Despite the fact that Turkey under the AKP strengthened its bonds to Iran and Syria and severed its ties to Israel, President Barack Obama has been supportive of the Erdogan regime. Mr. Obama phoned Erdogan during the finals of the World Basketball Championship between Turkey and the US in Istanbul and lauded what he called Turkey’s thriving democracy.
The leading members of the AKP are Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, who are disciples of militant Islamist Fethullah Gulen. Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania, remains intent to create a New Islamic World Order that will extend from Turkey to China.
The referendum grants Erdogan and Gul the right to appoint the judges within their country. This is bad news for the secularists since Erdogan in the past has attempted to dissolve all distinction between mosque and state. He instituted legislation that would make adultery a criminal offense and attempted to lift the ban on women wearing head coverings and burqas in the public universities.
“This is a radical decision point for the future of Turkey,” said lawyer Baris Aslan as he stood outside the Cihangir Primary School, where more than 5,000 people were registered to vote at 13 ballot boxes. “This is the spot between the religious and the secular, between despotism or democracy. I voted ‘no.’”
Mr. Aslan said that the changes had been prepared by “the Islamist party” and “without the input of the people.”“They are asking – in fact threatening – people to vote ‘yes,’ ” said Aslan.
“The Prime Minister said if you do not take part, you will be ‘eliminated.’ What does that mean? That you will no longer be a Turk?”
The referendum also grants Prime Minister Erdogan extended power over Turkey’s armed forces by lifting all rights of immunity from prosecution to military officials. Last February, Erdogan ordered the arrest of nearly 50 active and retired members of the military on the supposed charge that they were planning a coup against the AKP.
“We have passed a historic threshold on the way to advanced democracy and the supremacy of law,” said Erdogan to applause from supporters gathered to celebrate the victory. “Supporters of military intervention and coups are the losers tonight.”
Gulen, from his mountain fortress in Pennsylvania, endorsed the referendum by saying: “I wish we had a chance to raise the dead from their graves and urge them to cast yes in the referendum.”
Many Jews in Turkey expressed concern over the passage of the referendum.” “This development worries the Jews here,” said Tal, a resident of Antalya, told Ynet News. “All my friends cast their votes before breakfast. They all fear Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to turn us into Iran If Turkey continues to become more and more Islamic – this is worrying. We are used to roam around freely, and suddenly it’s becoming like Iran here.”
Jacky Angel, a Jewish resident of Istanbul, said: “The Erdogan government will not be satisfied with this and will try to advance Islam in any way possible. Defeating the army is the key to allow him (Erdogan) to do whatever he wants, including promoting some controversial Islamic laws.”
Other Turks were equally critical. Faruk Logoglu, former Turkish ambassador to Washington, said the referendum results will lead to “more tension” in the country.