But will the EU dhimmis really care if Turkey raises its Islamic profile? From Taheri in Arab News:
As the European Council prepares to decide on Turkey”s membership of the European Union, the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan is also trying to heighten his country”s Islamic profile….
Now, however, there are signs that the “moderate-Islamist” government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan intends to build up an Islamic policy in parallel with the pursuit of EU membership.
Last June Turkey hosted a meeting of foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), signalling its intention to play a more active role in shaping pan-Islamic policies.
The new two-track policy was further highlighted this week when Turkey hosted the second Joint Forum of the European Union and the OIC.
Turkey has also initiated diplomatic moves to gain control of the so-called Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Committee of the OIC which plays a key role in shaping the policies of Muslim nations toward Israel.
The Turkish leadership, however, is clearly divided on how far should Turkey go in search of an Islamic leadership role.
Some Cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, argue that a Turkish leadership role in the Muslim world would enhance its chances of joining the EU.
“At a time that people are talking of a clash of civilizations, Turkey is a natural bridge of civilizations,” Gul says. “All we are trying to do is to use our position to bring Islam and the West closer together.”…
Last June’s ministerial meeting in Istanbul gave Turkey an opportunity to launch two ideas.
The first was that Islam needs to promote currents of “enlightened moderation” against obscurantist movements that have led parts of the Muslim world into violence and terror. To coordinate efforts in that direction a Commission of Eminent Persons will be set up to recommend ways in which Muslims could meet the challenges of the 21st century. The second idea launched by Turkey concerns relations with Israel.
At present only 11 of the 57 members of the OIC have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Turkey was the first Muslim nation to recognize Israel in 1948 and to establish relations at ambassadorial level. At the time Israel’s recognition was popular in Turkey where many believed that the Arabs had stabbed the Turks in the back by joining a British-led revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Turkey also regarded Israel as a potential ally against Arab states which pursued territorial claims against the newly created Turkish republic.
From the 1970s onward, however, Turkey began to develop important commercial interests in the Arab world. At one point almost a million Turks worked in Arab countries, principally Libya, while Turkey”s dependence on Arab oil and transit trade continued to grow. Although trade with the Middle East represents no more than 15 percent of the Turkish foreign trade, it is growing faster than trade with the European Union.
The Turkish argument is that relations between the Muslim world and Israel must be handled by a country that has normal relations, and no history of enmity, with the Jewish state. In that context Turkey is the ideal go-between.
The principal task of the Al-Quds Committee, chaired by Morocco, is to prevent measures that could alter the character of the disputed city or do damage to Islamic edifices there. This necessitates a permanent dialogue with Israel which occupies the Arab part of the city. It also means visits to the city and, if and when necessary, initiating repair projects there. All of that requires Israeli consent, which only Turkey is in a position to obtain without compromising the broader interests of the Muslim world in the city….
Between Europe and Islam, Turkey hopes to forge a synthesis but runs the risk of becoming an outsider to both.
Maybe, but it looks as if the Turks — that is, both Ataturkists and radical Muslims — are a shoo-in for EU membership, no matter what they do.