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Complete Coverage Europe


Recep Tayyip Erdogan


Talking Turkey

by DuWayne Charles

NOV. 6, 2002. Voters in Turkey swept out a failed government on Sunday, voting in the Justice and Development Party.

Most of the international press coverage has centered on the party's Islamist roots, and whether or not a Muslim party will maintain the secular nature of the state. Its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is saying all the right things, including that "secularism is the protector of all beliefs and religions."

Possible religious bias, however, is not the only threat to democracy in Turkey. Of equal concern is that Erdogan is barred from office — for reciting a poem.

Even if the work incited religious hatred as Turkey's courts declared, the New York Times has a point when it editorializes that "poetry recitation is no bar to serving in elective office in any decent democracy."

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