Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Talking Turkey

I have read the article by Boris Johnson in The Daily Telegraph (26th Feb 2007) "Why are we so afraid of Turkey?".

Now, I often find myself in agreement with Boris, who is not one to pander to the politically correct crowd. He can be relied upon to be amusing. I enjoyed his article on the effect of flatulent cows on climate change, for example. Was his analysis complete however? What would be the overall effect on GDP (Greenhouse Derriere Product) if everyone were to eat beans instead of cow or sheep?

However, I am not in complete agreement with Boris regarding Turkey. I fear that his analysis is not complete.

I regard Turkey as having a very important role as a buffer state between the Christian world and the Islamic world. It does indeed straddle these two worlds, both geographically as well as politically. We can understand that it is being pulled in both directions by powerful forces: Modernity and secularism to the west, and religious fundamentalism to the east. I do share the concern that if we in the EU make a mess of our relationship with Turkey, that it will easily slip into the hands of the Islamic fundamentalists.

However, I do not subscribe to the view that there are only two options for Turkey. The stated options being, either full EU membership, or abandonment by the EU. The third option, which has served Switzerland very well, is to have a strong trading relationship whilst retaining political and cultural independance.

Unfortunately, the drive towards admitting Turkey into the EU has already had a destabilising effect. Fundamentalist Islam is on the rise, in a nation that had been to a large extent secular in its politics. Islam itself is not compatible with democracy.

Buffer states are vitally important. I wrote an article on my blog with the title: "A possible solution for Iraq" which discusses this in more detail. My concern is that when (or if) the coalition forces pull out of Iraq, there will be a complete bloodbath, with far more violence even than we see at present. Eventually, Iraq will be completely split along sectarian lines. Why do we not pre-empt this, at least as far as possible? This would mean formally creating a nation of Kurdistan, which would border Turkey. Possibly Kurdistan could form a secular democracy, and would in turn provide a buffer state, protecting Turkey from the elements of fundamentalist Islam.

For Kurdistan to be viable, it would be necessary for Turkey to give up its Kurdish territory. Likewise, so must Iran. It just seems bizarre that the EU is seriously considering Turkey for full membership, whilst such important issues remain unresolved.

It may be unwise to admit any Islamic state into the EU anyway. However secular it may appear officially, there will be an undercurrent of demands to introduce Sharia law into EU law. Sharia law is fundamentally incompatible with the process of generating "man made" laws, i.e. democracy itself.

For Turkey to be compatible with the rest of the EU, it must either jettison Islam completely, which is unlikely, or Islam itself must be completely reformed, to remove all the bloodthirsty and intolerant verses from the Quran. That is also highly unlikely. Therefore, the relationship between the EU and Turkey must proceed along pragmatic lines, not idealistic lines. To announce an engagement, and give the intended bride an engagement ring, then to call the wedding off is the act of a cad. It would have been better not to have even discussed the possibility of a marriage union.

The Quran itself precludes such a union:

"They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper." Quran 4.89

It was not the fault of the old Roman Empire, nor is it the fault of the new Roman Empire (the EU), that Islam cannot be reconciled with Christianity. The core difficulty is simply within the Quran:

"O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people." Quran 5.51

Hoping for a reconciliation with Islam is simply naive wishful thinking, whilst such verses remain relevant.

Here is the link to my blog:


Finally, Boris, yes logically we should only use quotes in context. The quote that the Pope used in his Regensburg lecture was however pertinent to his overall argument. His main messages, that God abhors bloodshed, and that we need to apply logic and reason to faith, were somewhat overshadowed by events. The quote was then taken out of context by irate Muslims. (I think that is what you meant in your article, but the English language is not always very precise.)

Whether, in my case as a non-Muslim I consider the full context of a particular quote from the Quran, may not be too significant as I will certainly not carry out the instructions to slaugter unbelievers. What is relevant however, is whether an Islamic terrorist will take whatever quotes they like from the Quran (and there are plenty) to justify their murderous acts.


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