East Meets West

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Today millions of Turks go to the polls to elect the next parliament. This election is more controversial than previous ones as the ruling AK Party, which has Islamic roots, is expected to win, while secularists believe if they do win and appoint a president from their party they will revise the constitution and put Turkey under Sharia Law.

Over the weeks leading up to the election, I've heard some interesting comments from the man on the street as well as some candidates:

"Anybody who votes for Erdogan
(AK Party) will go to hell!"
- Erbakan, former head of the conservative Islamic Saadet Party. Both Erbakan and Erdogan are from the now-defunct Welfare Party.

"I support CHP, Ataturk's party. If the head were Mustafa Sarigul
(the CHP leader of an affluent district in Istanbul), I would give them my vote. But Baykal (the party head) is a maniac who is full of hot air and has done nothing to help the Turkish people. So I voted for MHP." -
Taxi driver itching to tell me who he voted for. CHP is the leftist party founded by Ataturk that supports secularism. MHP also supports secularism, but is more nationalist.

"Americans don't understand the seriousness of the situation. If AK Party wins, they will slowly impose Islam on our country. You won't notice it at first, but they will change the constitution to Sharia Law and Turkey will become another Iran."
- Turkish woman expressing what many secularists fear will happen if AK Party stays in power.

"There are people who say 'I am the leader of Ataturk's party'. But if Ataturk were alive today, he would be ashamed of its leadership."
- Prime Minister Erdogan about the leader of the CHP.

"I'm religious, I pray every day, and I have many friends like me who are voting for CHP. I don't like the fact they are making money over religion."
- Young professional in Istanbul on his election choice and views about the ruling party.

"I'm definitely voting for AK Party because under their rule, the price of cooking oil has dropped, there is very little inflation and the cost of my utilities has stayed the same."
- Taxi driver on why he supports AK Party.



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