Monday, March 13, 2006
There was an interesting article today in the BBC about a Turkish town that managed to merge religious principles with sound economics. Those responsible for this call it "Islamic Calvinism". German economist Max Weber argued that the strong work ethics of the Protestant movement gave birth of capitalism and free market.
Kayseri is one of a handful of cities industrialising at an astonishing rate in Anatolia, Turkey's central province and the country's Islamic heartland.
Unlike the big urban centres of Ankara and Istanbul, the population is made up of devout, conservative Muslims.
Critics say it's a Western conspiracy to Christianise Islam, but others have passionately argued in its favour, holding it up as a model for how Islam and modernity can co-exist.
I strongly believe the reason why Turkey is different from many Muslim countries is a man called Kamal Ataturk. Regardless of his mistakes and regardless of your opinion of how he imposed secularism, Ataturk's early secularist agenda is what stopped those who use religion in order to stifle the values of liberal democracy and rendered them ineffective. One of the main reasons why we don't enjoy these values is our interpretation of religion. Over the period of 80 years, the Turks learned and got used to seperating religion and politics, and above all, they are starting to find new interpretations of religion in a way that matches it with modern values.
Turkey might not be up to the European standards of liberal democracy, but it's definitely much better than our sorry states.