Should Turkey have an Islamist President?

Turkey was the scene of a huge rally in protest over the prospect of having an Islamist Abdullah Gul as president amid concerns of the military . this has raised concerned for its future political stability . Amid all this, should Turkey have an Islamist president?

Turkey as Muslim country should stick to its cultural identity intertwined with religion. Secularism didn’t alter the face of it as a Muslim nation. The rise of Islamism comes after all from within the social strata. As there is freedom to practise religion in Turkey, political institutions will have little to curb it if it is a part of people’s daily lives. After more than 80 years of secularism, Turks must have grown up to the fact there is a separation between religion and states.

The fear of having an Islamist president is unjustified. The JDP (Justice and Development Party) has ruled Turkey without putting in question its secular principles. It didn’t seek to break up ties with Israel, contrary to what the Islamist did in Iran when they took power. Turkey has signed new military agreements with Israel under JDP government. There can be only the military in Turkey who are fearful of such a president. With time and with Turkey’s aspiration to join the EU, their political role will be next to none.

The president has limited power as the power is mainly in the hands of the parliament and the government. This kind of fear is a reminder of the similar one the JDP created among many when it came to power. Maybe the opposition to have an Islamite president is the fear that JDP will have more power than it has now. If the president doesn’t represent any political party and he is the president of all; in this case, the whole state, civilians and military, should rally behind him as long as he has respect for the secular constitution and no intention to mix religion with politics.

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