Friday, December 03, 2004

Turkey Policies on Minorities Spark Debate

THe article is primarily about a diplomatic contrtemps about the title accorded a CHristian religious leader in Turkey, a Muslim country.
In October, a parliamentary bill to criminalize adultery also raised questions about Turkey's commitment to European values, just as Brussels was considering a preliminary recommendation on opening talks.

The crisis was defused when Erdogan, whose party has Islamic roots, persuaded lawmakers to back away from the law. But the EU report that eventually cleared the way for the Dec. 17 decision suggested that improved rights for ethnic and religious minorities would be a condition for membership.

It said "religious freedom is subject to serious limitations as compared with European standards" and mentioned the patriarchate's problems with a theology school. It also noted the precise issue that has now emerged, saying disapprovingly that "the ecclesiastical title of Ecumencial Patriarch is still banned."

In the battle between religion and modernity, perhaps the most interesting battleground today is Turkey. It is by far the Islamic country most friendly to and interested in joining the West. It has been seeking entry into the EU for ages. But issues like these will keep coming up as they wrestle with the roles of religion and secular society.


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