If you’d like to tag along with my POL 102 class this semester, here’s your chance. Once a week I assign a web based assignment to go along with the topic of our chapter textbook (we’re using The Good Society: An Introduction to Comparative Politics).
This week, we’re looking at various facets of political culture. So Wednesday we’re discussing a Current TV report about the religious/secular debate in Turkey, particularly with the rise of the AK (Justice & Development) Party. The report is called "Scarf Wars" and first aired in 2008.
The report is particularly fascinating, because it looks at a predominantly Muslim country that is—and historically has been—remarkably secular. In fact, the country’s constitution proscribes a strict separation of church and state (known as laïcité) that goes much further than in the US. In many ways, the images and discussion in the video challenge traditional perceptions of “Muslim” political culture in the US media. But pay attention to the debate over the role of religion in Turkey. Does it mirror any of the debates in the US—particularly the “war on religion” rhetoric—taking place today? If so, which US political party most closely resembles the “Islamist” AK Party?
While we’re at it, here’s a recent article from Time magazine about Turkey’s current president ("Erdogan’s Moment"). With the current events in Syria and the rest of the Middle East after the “Arab Spring,” Turkey—a longtime US ally—has become a potential model for many Arab reformers. Should the US encourage this?