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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 8, 2007 / 22 Sivan, 5767

A different path in Turkey

By Michael Gerson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | ISTANBUL — The shining achievement of modern Turkey is declared by the darkness around it. In Saudi Arabia or northern Sudan, conversion from Islam is considered apostasy, a crime punishable by death. Even in traditionally tolerant Malaysia, a Christian convert was recently prevented from officially changing her religious status, being informed by a court that "the plaintiff exists under the tenets of Islam until her death." In Turkey, a legal change of religion on your identity card merely requires a notarized letter, and several hundred Christian converts have made the switch.


Yet even in Turkey, religious liberty is the most disputed and troublesome of freedoms. The secular establishment, fearful of accumulated sectarian power, has traditionally denied minority religious groups the right to own property, to provide religious education beyond high school or to train their own clergy. As a result, the Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches are slowly being asphyxiated for lack of priests — and the government has sometimes hastened the process by expropriating church property without compensation. The nationalist yellow press whips up resentment against religious minorities by repeating popular conspiracy theories: that Christian missionaries run prostitution rings or bribe Muslims into converting.


The rise of a more publicly assertive Islam in Turkey has added an unpredictable element to these long-standing challenges. The religiously influenced government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan advocates Turkish membership in the European Union, which would give both Muslims and religious minorities a firmer legal basis for the free exercise of religion. Under pressure from the European Union, Turkey's parliament passed legislation to return some confiscated church property and ratified international treaties that affirm freedom of thought, conscience and religion.


Many American conservatives have little use for the European Union, but this is its usefulness: Across Eastern Europe, and now across the Bosporus, it has offered tangible economic benefits in exchange for the acceptance of international standards of human rights. That is more than the American freedom agenda is accomplishing.


But even as the legal environment for religion improves in Turkey, rising Islamist influence has caused sudden storms of violence. Seven weeks ago, two Turkish Christian converts and a German citizen were ritually murdered in the southern city of Malatya by killers spouting nationalist and Islamist slogans. Pastors around the country have begun hiring professional security. The Armenian patriarch is followed by a bodyguard even during his procession to the altar — an unsettling liturgy of fear.


Muslim societies, of course, have no monopoly on religious repression, which is practiced with enthusiasm from Hindu India to Buddhist Sri Lanka to atheist China, where many of the victims are Muslims themselves. But Islam is conducting a lively and sometimes deadly internal debate on religious liberty. Modernist theologians argue for tolerance based on the Koran's assertion that there is "no compulsion in religion."


Fundamentalists point to a long tradition of severe treatment for apostates, and they have gained the upper hand in many parts of the Muslim world. Few things are more frightening in a traditional society than the prospect of the young abandoning the faith of their fathers. For many in conservative cultures, religion is not primarily the belief of an individual but the definition of a community — not a choice but an identity. The very idea of changing your faith is bewildering to many, like changing your ethnicity or hiring new parents. In Turkey, converts are often referred to as "foreigners" who have repudiated Turkishness itself.


But however controversial religious liberty may be, it is not optional in a democracy. The practice of freedom is ultimately inseparable from individualism — a belief in the right and ability of men and women to govern their own affairs. And individualism means little without the ability to choose one's own creed about G-d, morality and the universe. For traditional societies, this is a difficult adjustment. For every free society, it is a necessary adjustment.


The Malatya murders acted like the flash of an X-ray, revealing some hidden and disturbing trends in a close ally. But the shock of that violence also provoked a counter-reaction. After the murders, Ali Bardakoglu — the highly respected Sunni theologian who heads the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate — was asked if missionary work was a danger to Turkey. He replied, "No, it is their natural right. We must learn to respect even the personal choice of an atheist, let alone other religions."


That kind of clarity from a Muslim leader is the reason that Turkey, if it did not exist, would need to be invented.


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Comment on Michael Gerson's column by clicking here.




Previously:


06/06/07: An Islamic test for Turkey
06/04/07: Mass circumcise Africans?
05/30/07: A Big Enough Stick for Sudan

© 2007, WPWG

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