Letter to The Economist, December 11, 1996

Letters to the Editor
The Economist
25 St. James's Street
London SW1A1HG
United Kingdom

Re:  "Crumbling Castle",  December  7, 1996 

To the Editor:

Your Ankara correspondent correctly warns of a "more nationalist [and] more authoritarian" Necmettin Erbakan ("Crumbling Castle", December 7, 1996), but fails to recognize Turkey's Islamist government as merely the first of a closely-placed, and perilous, succession of dominoes. Unless the Islamic fundamentalist movement itself becomes corrupted or dulled by its union with Turkey's ruling apparatus, the real danger of the Welfare Party's rise to national power lies in the cycle of repression and regeneration that will so obviously follow its accession.

In conformance with Turkey's long machiavellian tradition of ruthless repression for the preservation of the secularist state (the Armenian and Pontian Greek Genocides were perpetrated by a secular, not an Ottoman, Turkey), the cabal of generals and industrialists who govern Turkey, Oz-like behind a thin curtain of democracy that the West refuses to draw aside, will soon respond with totalitarian measures to stamp out this threat that has terrified the Turkish establishment even more than the Kurds' struggle for independence. Like a regenerating muscle torn after exertion, this crackdown of Islamicist dissidents will spawn an even stronger, more extremist and far more resolved fundamentalist backlash commanding an even more powerful moral authority--which in turn could lead to a full-scale civil war with the Islamists, Kurds, and Alawite Arabs on one side and the Kemalist Turkish Government on the other.

As had happened with our self-fulfilling fear of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, the State Department's continuing support of a ruthless, militaristic, undemocratic and expansionist secular government in Turkey will be the surest way to usher Muslim extremists into power.  When will the West learn that it is not Islamic fundamentalism per se that most threatens peace and democracy but repression itself . . . whatever its form.

Very truly yours,

Phillip Spyropoulos, Esq.

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