Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm With the Devout Muslims on This One

"Tolerance" is an odd word. I've read that the secular government of Turkey, supported by the secular military, was very tolerant. I thought being "tolerant" included concepts like freedom of expression. Looks like I was wrong.

Turkey got a new constitution in 1980, after a coup by secularist military officers. The secularists decided that it was important to protect university students from head scarves, so they wrote a ban on students wearing that dangerous article of clothing into the constitution.

Twenty seven years later, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a devout Muslim, is re-writing the constitution. Apparently religion and politics are hot issues in Turkey, as well as America.

I don't know Turkish culture well enough to fully understand the horrors represented by head scarves, but I know how deeply repulsed many sophisticated secularists are by religious symbols.

When I was going to college, and to this day, schools have fought to protect students from seeing another student wearing, say, a crucifix. It's gotten to the point, at times, where the phrase "freedom of religion" has seems to mean "freedom from religion."

As a devout Catholic, and a man who understands the importance of faith in society, I don't approve of efforts to purge religious symbols from public view.

I find it ironic that the same people who extol freedom of speech and freedom of expression, when a crucifix is displayed in a bottle of urine, or when yet another celebrity mocks religious beliefs, are aghast at the display of some religious symbols in public.

It will be interesting to see what happens in Turkey. The Turkish military has kicked out four governments since 1960, partly for being insufficiently secular.

Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.