The Crisis of Political Islam

The Crisis of Political Islam, by Yaroslav Trofimov.

In 1999, a former mayor of Istanbul named Recep Tayyip Erdogan was imprisoned and banned from politics for life for reciting a poem. “Our minarets are our bayonets, our domes are our helmets, our mosques are our barracks,” the incriminating lines went. “My reference is Islam. If I am not able to speak of this, what is the use of living?”

The ban on Mr. Erdogan didn’t stick. Now Turkey’s president (and prime minister for 11 years before that), he is presiding over a nationwide purge of suspected enemies after the failure last week of a military coup against his government.

Islam triumphs over secularism and democracy:

For decades, in much of the Middle East, Islamist politicians like Mr. Erdogan weren’t able to speak out—and, when they did, they frequently faced a prison cell or a hangman’s noose. From Algeria to Egypt to Turkey, the apparatus of the state repeatedly unleashed repression—of varying degrees of harshness—to marginalize political Islam, crushing democratic freedoms while offering the excuse of preserving secular values. The West, preferring the autocratic devils it knew over the Islamists it didn’t, often concurred.

In response, many of the Islamist movements that sprang up under the influence of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood—groups that include Mr. Erdogan’s party—have gradually embraced the language of pluralism and the idea of democratic politics and elections. Crucially, however, these modern Islamists have often viewed democracy not as a value in itself but merely as a tactic to bring about a “true” Islamic order. To them, the voting booth was simply the most feasible way to dismantle the postcolonial, secular systems that, in the eyes of their followers, had failed to bring justice or development to ordinary Muslims.

Erdogan famously said that “democracy is a bus ride; once I get to my stop, I’m getting off.” A bit like the African lesson: “one man, one vote, once.” The Muslim and culturally-Arab middle east is the least free, least democratic part of the world:

[Tunisia] is the only country now rated as “free” by Freedom House, a U.S. organization that analyzes civil liberties and political rights, out of the 17 Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East and North Africa. That’s the worst record for any region. …

But Islam is a religion whose founder established a successful empire instead of dying on the cross. As a result, it offers a far more detailed prescription than Christianity of how government and society should be run. “The Quran is our constitution,” runs the Muslim Brotherhood’s historic slogan.

As such, politicians and voters who believe in the primacy of Islamic law inevitably find themselves in conflict with the principle of democracy whenever a majority favors a different path. This, after all, is why more radical groups, such as Islamic State, have rejected democracy outright as an infidel heresy.

Turkey arrests 62 schoolchildren for TREASON following failed military coup, by Guy Birchall.

Before the coup attempt last week, the pupils, aged between 14 and 17, were made to dress up in camouflage and were handed guns with empty magazines, according to their lawyers.

The children have been taken to prison and not allowed to speak to their parents as they were accused of treason against the Turkish State.

Thousands of Turkey coup prisoners ‘raped, starved and hogtied’, by Chris Hughes.

Turkish soldeiers imprisoned after coup

Turkish troops imprisoned after the failed military coup are being raped, starved and left without water for days, it is claimed. Many of the 10,000 detainees are locked up in horses’ stables and sports halls – some hogtied in horrific stress positions, according to human rights campaigners. …

Amnesty says it has ‘credible evidence’ Turkish police are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment and in the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.