Which Way Turkey?

The direction is clear – Turkey is moving towards a state governed by Islamic law and custom. The first round of the election for a new president will be held on August 10. Current Prime Minister Erdogan is a shoo-in. He has consistently moved Turkey in a more conservative direction and has surrounded himself with officials pushing the country towards Islamic practice.

The latest example is a speech by a deputy prime minister on July 28 on the occasion of Eid-al Fitr, the celebration to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. He warned women to refrain from laughing in public because it diminished their being “chaste.” He went on to decry the “moral corruption” in Turkey.

Erdogan and his colleagues are melding a vicious sexism with Islamic practice. He has stated explicitly that he does not believe in equality between men and women. His commitment to Islamic conservatism is both a reflection of that belief and a means to its realization.

Marvin Zonis is Professor Emeritus at the Booth School of Business, the University of Chicago.