If we are to make a comparison of Turkey’s situation today with the past, we can clearly see that very significant developments, primary structural reforms have been accomplished in the last decade. These improvements bring Turkey out of its confined shell and move it forward considerably. It is also clear that we are in need of more democratization and more transparency. Therefore, the AK Party government is drawing up new democracy packages every other day in full awareness of this demand.
Yet, it would be a mistake to assume that democratization is only limited to improvements in the areas of politics, economic or the judicial system. Social reforms should be emphasized equally, if not more. In fact, social reforms are the key components of this democratization process. The main subjects that first come to mind are as follows: Bringing women and youth to the fore, providing for their rights and freedom of speech, as well as freedom of thought, human rights, arts, science and a modernity that is even beyond the Western civilizations.
During the reign of Atatürk, there were a series of constitutional breakthroughs and reforms accomplished to stipulate rights and freedoms for women yet not much was achieved in practice following that term. If truth be told, Western countries mainly criticize the Islamic countries along with Turkey in regard to the life styles, rights and freedoms of women. This is in fact the first-line denigration, standing even before the aspersions and accusations cast on violence and barbarity arising from a fanatical interpretation of Islam.
This vital matter should not remain unfulfilled, since rather than some superficial implementations such as increasing the number of women parliamentarians by only a few or allowing women to chair commissions, more concrete measures should be put into practice. Women being favored as representatives of the country in related platforms and giving them authority would make a very positive impression. The image to be established by means of high quality, modern, intellectual women with comprehensive culture, foresight and vision will remove major foregoing prejudices in an instant, by the will of God.
The plain argument that has obstructed the entry of Turkey to the European Union for decades is solely the fear of fanaticismCeylan Ozbudak
Women should occupy at least an equal share of assignments, in other words a 50-50 ratio in the state sector, the government and parliament, and also official institutions as well as the private sector and the business world. Let alone equal rights and freedoms for women, what would be more suitable for our nation is to apply positive discrimination for them. In order to bring about this effort, the negative worth ascribed to women through the bigoted mindset should be abolished by restoring it with the real worth granted to women in Islam.
10 million new voters
There is urgency in bringing the youth, particularly university students, to the fore and to carry out the required regulations allowing them to participate in all areas. If we look at the forthcoming elections, we see that 10 million new voters will take part in the elections. This means that 10 million young people will have their say in country’s administration. This figure, which is one seventh of the 76 million population of our country, is quite significant. Actually, it is impossible to turn a blind eye to this total that will have a great implication on the election results and the future of the country.
Therefore, restricting reforms related to this large group to only national education or similar technical fields is not adequate. It is also highly important to carry out the amendments and enactments that will ensure more participation from the youth by allowing their ideas, desires and modern understanding of life to be put into practice.
If these reforms are fulfilled without losing time, Turkey will become a role model throughout the world by accentuating women and youth, providing wide opportunities and possibilities for them all and bringing its full potential to fruition. Fear, concern and critics will lose their place to compliments, appreciation and admiration.
Moreover, instituting policies of non-discrimination between faiths, sects and ethnic groups in terms of their citizenship and dignity is vital in the course of this democratization. When this crucial step is made, the gravest issue exploited by separatists against the unity of the state will have been eliminated automatically. Quarreling and partition, which are the elements for instigating mischief among the Alawite, Sunni, Shia and other sects, will be abolished within the framework of brotherhood among the Muslims, God willing.
Not only on the basis of sects, but an understanding of democracy protecting and guarding the rights of Christians, Jews, members of other beliefs, irreligious or atheistic people in an equal and just manner will indispensably move our country forward in the world arena.
Besides, we can only talk about a sound country once women and young people take their rightful place in social life with all their freedoms granted. Therefore, it is vitally important that women, the party being most oppressed by fanaticism, are given due priority and importance, and raised to the position they deserve in social life and politics: If women are comfortable and peaceful then that community is peaceful.
Unless these essential matters which reflect the nature of people are not resolved, feelings of social unrest, discord, anger and rebellion will proceed hidden or in sight.
The root of the problem
The bigoted disposition that has harmed the minds of people, and deadened their cognition, intelligence, talents, aesthetic sentiments and appreciation of beauty throughout centuries, and inculcated enmity against science, arts and women is one of the main obstacles before the virtues noted. Contrary to any good thing, bigotry creates people with a mindset of conflict, terror, bloodshed, savagery, barbarity, ugliness, filthiness, and being distant to aesthetics. This fanaticism coming out in the name of Islam is actually a pagan religion that is the most threatening enemy of Islam and Muslims.
People living in Islamic countries which are under the destructive pressure of a traditional bigoted interpretation of religion that does not embrace women or youth, and refrains from putting paintings, music, sculpture, fine arts, architecture and recreation on their agenda or program are under very distressing circumstances. It is this mentality that has alienated Islamic communities from modern and civilized societies. The plain argument that has obstructed the entry of Turkey to the European Union for decades is solely the fear of fanaticism.
That being the case, it is the exactly the right time for Turkey to eliminate this radical mindset that has drawn a curtain animosity between us and the Western civilizations for decades. Turkey as a democracy has made considerable progress on this issue, progress not even comparable with other Muslim countries. Yet, these efforts need to be perfected.
Open to change
Turkey is open to modernity, progress, novelty and change; particularly the social, economic and cultural steps taken in the last decade reveal the impact of this spirit of change. Despite this, there is still a minority, which is shrinking every day, but is still inclined towards bigotry and fears modernity, change and advancement. At times the ideological grounds of the minority may get in the way of moves to modernity. On that account, this is the primary issue that needs to be resolved. While preserving our core culture and dignity, reforms that will make a positive and constructive impact for the progress of our country will bring blessings, beauties and abundance to people.
Giving worth to women and youth, appreciating freedom of belief, thought and expression, endorsing science, arts, culture and technology, and taking the necessary democratic and constitutional measures for moving these values forward should be legislated as the state policy. Only then will the tendency for hopelessness, anger and aggressiveness in society be abolished. Separatist, destructive and conflicting predispositions will fade away. People will attain sincere trust and good intentions for the state and administrators. I also have to remind the reader once again that the AK Party needs a well functioning, international PR machine.
Once these vital subject matters are taken as part of the democratization efforts, Turkey will be a model for the entire Islamic world and freed from all kinds of plots and conspiracies played against it through attempts at manipulation with cheap provocations and internal turmoil. These are the expectations Turkish people have for the new democratization package.
Ceylan Ozbudak is a Turkish political analyst, television presenter, and executive director of Building Bridges, an Istanbul-based NGO. As a representative of Harun Yahya organization, she frequently cites quotations from the author in her writings. She can be followed on Twitter via @ceylanozbudak