Monday, September 06, 2004

Turkey Takes a Step Backward

If Turkey's ruling party goes through with its law criminalizing adultery, not only will it do great harm to its bid for EU membership, but it will also become unworthy of belonging to said grouping. This sort of retrograde legislation is a godsend to all those who've been saying that Turkish culture is fundamentally incompatible with Western values.

Turkey's devout Muslim leader, Tayyip Erdogan, has defended his government's plans to criminalise adultery, despite protests that have shown the issue is dividing the country.

Mr Erdogan, whose AK party has its roots in political Islam, said at the weekend that outlawing marital infidelity is a vital step towards preserving the family and "human honour". Although Turkey aspires to join the European Union it did not have to adopt its "imperfect" western morals, he insisted.

"The family is a sacred institution for us. The stronger the family, the stronger the country. If the family is weakened, that country is doomed to destruction," the prime minister said in an interview with Turkey's Sabah newspaper.

The proposal, which has infuriated feminists and much of the media, is likely to cloud talks in Ankara today between Mr Erdogan and the European enlargement commissioner, G√ľnter Verheugen.
Mr Erdogan sounds just like your average socially conservative Republican in having so little faith in the decency of his fellow human beings that he feels the need to use the state to police their private lives; unfortunately for the Turks, theirs is not a state in which the sorts of safeguards against theocracy possessed by the USA can be counted upon to hold the line.