Turkish Daily News
Dec 31 2004

'A civilization project'

By Gunduz Aktan

TDN- Germanic Europe, from which Western civilization evolved
contrary to the Mediterranean basin, was never multi-cultural in the
sense of being multi-religious. It exterminated the European Jewry
with the Holocaust, which was the apex of a policy of a thousand
years of anti-Semitism. The successful implementation of liberal
democracy and pluralism undoubtedly contributed to the development of
tolerance, together with economic prosperity. However, it was not
enough to turn the European Union into a multi-cultural society. The
EU's civilization project depends on it being multi-cultural.

After World War II, Europeans, thinking the Holocaust could never be
repeated, started to bring in laborers from outside. With Central and
Eastern Europe being behind the Iron Curtain, it had nowhere to turn
to but the Muslim countries. Either due to imprudence, or believing
they had changed, or even because they thought they could send back
those who had come, they welcomed Muslims who were members of the
other Monotheistic religion. Therein they committed a grave mistake.

The leader of the German Christian Democrats Angela Merkel said
recently that the multi-cultural Europe project had failed. Apart
from a small group, Muslims have not integrated into the parent
society. Ghettos have become common. The proportion of Muslim inmates
in prison and among the unemployed has increased dramatically. An
internal proletariat based on religion and ethnicity has emerged. The
threat of radical Islamist terrorism has appeared.

In reaction to these developments, opinions on assimilating, instead
of integrating the Muslims, are gaining ground in the EU. The
influence of the extreme rightist and racist parties is increasing.
Otto Schily is trying to include the Muslims into German culture,
which he calls `leitkultur.' Nicolas Sarkozy says it would be better
to introduce the Anglo-Saxon version of secularism to replace the
French Laicism. Both are talking about desperate projects like
creating a German and French version of Islam.

Turkey's membership sits on top of this quagmire. Additionally,
Turkey is Europe's historical other. Their prejudices against us have
become pathological. The grave symptoms of this psychology can be
seen everywhere. They are exaggerating our shortcomings and deflect
their own deficiencies onto us. Their claims of Armenian genocide and
the mistreatment of Kurds make relevant the Holocaust and their own
racist attitude towards Muslims. Because we are backward in an
essentialist sense, they believe we can never implement the
democratization reforms and they see us as unfixable. When they say
`proud nation,' they insinuate that we have no reason to be proud.
They fear if they include us, the EU will collapse and result in an
identity loss. While the non-recognition of the other is their own
problem, they constantly ask us to promote ourselves. By banning the
freedom of movement, they are trying to tell us that we can live side
by side in accordance with the Theory of Cultural Relativism, but not
in an intermingled manner. They neither let us go nor do they
incorporate us.

All these give the impression that the EU, by trying to make Turkey a
member, has bitten off more than it can chew.

We should understand the EU's view on the Cyprus issue in terms of
their perspective of the Armenian `genocide' and the Kurdish
`minority.' They took the decision to make Greek Cyprus a member in
1995 even without any solution on the island. That's why if we
satisfy the intransigent Greek Cypriot demands, we will be paying a
very high price. On the other hand, if we cannot resolve the matter,
we won't be able to become a member.

They say they want our membership in order to show that they can live
in harmony with the Islamic world. However, the biggest fault-line
between Islam and Christianity is between Turkey and the Greece/Greek
Cyprus duo with the EU behind them. If we cannot become a member due
to a pro-Greek stance by anxious EU members the clash between Islam
and Christianity will deepen.

Are we going to create harmony by assimilating the Muslims in Europe
on the one hand and satisfying the lunatic demands of the EU-backed
Greeks and Armenians on the other?

A dangerous process has started, not only for us, but also for the
EU.