By Taha Akyol
My heart sank when I read these two stories: Some of our citizens who went to Turkish diplomatic missions in France to cast their votes were bedecked in Ottoman attire. What kind of nostalgia is this? What kind of a perception of history and time is this? Those French people who saw them, were they afraid or amused?
These citizens of ours, for instance, have they ever wondered how the independence of the judiciary came about in the French Constitution?
The second story was the explosions in Egypt where the churches of Saint George and Saint Mark were attacked by terrorists; at least 44 people died, and 119 people were injured.
The fact that these bloody stories are mostly coming from Muslim countries and that al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are made up of Muslims gives me huge pain. While thinking over them, the basic question should be this: Why can’t Muslims solve their own issues? Is it because of the crusade alliance or imperialism?
But it was the Muslims themselves who removed “philosophy” lessons from the madrasa.
Foreign powers? China, which suffered under colonialism for many centuries, developed rapidly after it shook off Mao and his charismatic charm. It has become the world’s second biggest economy after the United States.
According to the SJR index, in the scientific publications list for the 1996-2015 period, China was the world’s second after the U.S. Taiwan, with 23 million people, ranks 17th while Turkey, with its 80 million people, is in 20th place. After the dismissals in universities conducted using state of emergency powers, our place could fall further in the coming years.
Can Muslims in the 21st century succeed in reviewing their – now shameful – issues without associating them with “foreign powers” and opt for a direction where they can build science, the economy, freedom and law?
There is a call that has been resorted to frequently: “Muslims, wake up!”
However, this call does not contain the account of why we lag behind. It does not create a sentiment of “renaissance” among those it addresses.
This call is actually made for political struggle. What is the “awakened Muslim” anyway? It is for everybody to have their own party, community, group, etc. Thus, political power fights stand out.
The essential topic of our upcoming referendum is, at the end of the day, the arrangement of powers; not principles that would enhance competence and institutionalization.
However, the reason for the Muslim world not being able to solve its problems is not a lack of power. It is the lack of institutionalization; it is the low ranking of values such as science, competence and law compared to politics.
As a matter of fact, Islamic or secular Middle Eastern regimes in the 21st century were all “tough” and powerful regimes, yet they all failed.
There is loads of research about successful Asian countries.
“The New Asian Hemisphere” by Kishor Mahbubani explains that these seven pillars have to be pursued to reach success: market economy, science and technology, meritocracy, pragmatism, the culture of peace, rule of law and education.
So different from the current Middle Eastern illnesses of sectarian, partisanship, patriotism, favouritism and ideological policies, no?
What is lacking is democracy; but South Korea, which is in the same group, has democracy and is one of the most successful countries in all fields.
For historic and geopolitical reasons, liberal democracy is indispensable for Turkey. The basic topics for Muslims should be these rational and legal principles.