Kevin Myers: For 250 years, Turkey's presence in Europe was invariably as an armed invader in Christian lands
By Kevin Myers
Wednesday March 31 2010
President McAleese's strong endorsement of Turkey's membership of the EU is, presumably, government policy. But why? How is full Turkish membership of the EU in our interests, when the emigrants from both countries will be competing for jobs in mainland Europe? Or is it simply an ideological issue, in which we faithfully follow the EU party-line as once good Communists adhered to the diktats from the Comintern?
The largely undiscussed reason to worry about Turkish membership of the EU is the most delicate: religion. But Turkey is eager to present itself as an agent of the Islamic world: they recently even proposed making an "Islamic car" (whatever that is) with Malaysia. When the Danish prime minister Lars Rasmussen was proposed as head of NATO, the Turkish PM, Racip Tayyip Erdogan, alleged that the Dane's handling of the Mohammed-cartoons issue had made him unpopular in the Muslim world. So Turkey is already acting as an Islamic emissary, and on an issue of free speech that goes to the very core of European secularism. For in our culture, we can call Jesus Christ a sodomite son-of-a-whore without legal consequence. But I would not even jokingly use such language about Mohammed for fear of Islamic death-squads.
So is the EU expected to arrange its affairs in order to please the Muslim world? And is Turkey's role to be a judge of what we may (or may not) say about Islam? Take President Abdullah Gul, whose political roots are unashamedly Islamist, and whose wife wears a headscarf (for which Ataturk would have banned her from government buildings).
He recently told Mary Fitzgerald of the 'Irish Times': "If secularism is to be interpreted in a way to limit the freedom of faith and religion, this would be a misinterpretation. For that reason, we advocate that Turkey needs to have a real secular system but it is also important that there will be full freedom of faith as well."
Full freedom of faith means sharia law for Muslims. With the exception of urban Turkey, sharia law either co-exists with or is superior to state law wherever Muslims are in the majority. And "full freedom of faith" is precisely what the founder of secular-Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk specifically outlawed, because he knew what Islamic "freedom" meant: rule by imams. Yet Turkish Anatolia has endured imam-rule throughout the supposed reign of secular law in Turkey. Indeed, honour killings remain not merely commonplace in Anatolia but are largely tolerated by a complicit state-police.
President Gul boasted that Turkey disseminates modern ideas to the Middle East "such as democratic values, human rights, and free market economy". Human rights, eh? Well, just one month before those ringing declarations, a Turkish court sentenced a newspaper-editor to 21 years for printing Kurdish propaganda. Courts are courts, you might argue. However, just two days before that interview, Mr Erdogan threatened to expel Armenians from Turkey in response to (admittedly fatuous) votes by legislators in Sweden and the US that branded the mass-killings of Armenians in 1915 as "genocide". Imagine the outcry if the German chancellor threatened to expel Turks because of her dislike of some absurd, mountebank historical posturing in a third country. But, of course, that would be impossible because it would violate the fundamental ethos of European political culture. However, Turkey's response to the US vote also reveals the gulf between us and Turkey; for Ankara promptly withdrew its ambassador from Washington. Such is not the conduct of a modern European state.
But that's exactly what Turkey says that it is. Turkey's foreign affairs minister Ahmet Davutoglu wrote recently: "Since the 14th century, and even before, the bulk of our history has been wrought in (Europe)." Quite so: though along the Danube they'd probably say that the bulk of Turkish history was not so much wrought as fought in Europe. For a full quarter of a millennium, from the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 to the siege of Vienna in 1683, Turkey's presence in Europe was invariably as an armed invader in Christian lands.
There now. The dreaded C-word. We've become so apologetic about our defining cultural origin, the EU Constitution dare not name it.
But the Turks have no such reservations. Unless we admit Turkey, says Mr Erdogan, the EU will "end up a Christian club". Well, is that so very bad? Didn't Christians invent just about everything for the last 400 years? And how would Europe remain recognisably European (or even Christian) after a mass-movement of Anatolian Muslims into our cities?
For one thing that Ryanair has taught us is the overnight mobility of populations. And Turkish immigration will probably not consist of cosmopolitan elites but of peasants and their imams from Anatolia, accompanied by their burkas, naquibs and madrasas.
And if you wonder about the outcome, wonder no more: simply go to Bradford and Blackburn and ask them about the boundless delights of mass-Islamic immigration. Go on. Ask them.