Sister on a Mission

A Muslimah in the Midwest trying to counteract all the "war on terror" propaganda.

Location: Midwest, United States

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Turkey and the Pope

I heard on NPR this morning that Turkey is all aflutter owing to the pope's scheduled visit. He originally planned the visit to improve Roman Catholic relations with the Eastern Orthodox church, but since his unfortunate comments and the unfortunate reaction to them a few months ago, he'll also have some Muslim/Christian issues to deal with.

One of the interesting aspects of this story was how the reporter described the 100,000-strong Christian minority in Turkey. She explained that priests are not allowed to wear their frocks in public nor to train new clerics, etc. What she didn't mention is that Muslims are similarly discriminated against. Women who wear hijab are not allowed to attend university or serve in parliment. Europe is leaning this way as well: French Muslimahs are not allowed to wear hijab to school and the Dutch have outlawed niqab.

The truth is that Turkey is going through the same secularist identity crisis that much of Western Europe is experiencing. The gov't wants to be so secular that it is trying to erase religion alltogether. Of course Ataturk began this process in Turkey by outlawing the fez, the niqab, Arabic script and other traditions/forms of ibadaat. Westerners call this "REFORM". But when it is Christians on the receiving end it is "oppression".

The elusive balance that neither Europe nor Turkey seem to be able to strike is the basis of true freedom. Respecting human rights and living in freedom means that everyone be allowed to practice his faith freely, not that you outlaw anyone's faith. Europe and Turkey both need to get their brains (and their policies) around that concept.


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