Worlds collide in the struggle for a nation's soul media fear shackles of a 'violent Islam' violent Islam
Friday 07 February 1997
It was a contentious speech delivered by Iran's ambassador to Turkey, Mohammed Reza Bagheri, which brought Ms Gurel - who was covering a protest against the contents of the Iranian envoy's address - to Sincan. The assault which she suffered has excited the fears of Turkish secularists, who suspect Iran of fostering religious extremism in an attempt to hinder Turkey's increasingly fragile alignment with the West.
This debate has been symbolised by the assault's protagonists. Ms Gurel works for Interstar, one of a handful of punchy and innovative television stations which have sprung up in recent years. Some Turks think that her less telegenic assailant - who fled unhindered after flinging her to the ground - represents another newish arrival in traditionally secular Turkey: violent Islam.
Police inquiries suggest that Ms Guler's attacker was employed by the local council in Sincan. This claim embarrasses not only the council leader, Bekir Yildiz - who invited Mr Bagheri to Sincan - but also the Islamist- inclined Welfare Party, of which Mr Yildiz is a member.
Welfare, whose leader, Necmettin Erbakan, is Turkey's first Islamist prime minister, is in power nationally, and must balance the desires of its most militant cadres with the need to avoid angering Turkey's secular military.
Last Saturday's "Jerusalem Night", a meeting held to express solidarity with Palestinian demands for control of the Israeli capital, has reassured no one. For a start, the meeting coincided with the anniversary of the return of the Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's revolutionary leader, to Iran in 1979. The meeting hall was decorated with portraits of prominent members of Hizbollah, the pro-Iranian radical Islamic group, as well as a representation of the Dome of the Rock, a symbol of what some see as Israel's illegal occupation of Jerusalem.
The Iranian ambassador evidently tailored his address to suit his surroundings. He included an oblique call for the introduction of the sharia Islamic law in Turkey, and declared that divine retribution would befall those striking deals with Israel. This was interpreted as a reference to military co-operation agreements which Turkey and Israel struck last year.
Mr Yildiz - who presumably knows that advocating sharia law is at variance with Turkey's secular constitution - seemed to echo the ambassador's remarks. Mr Yildiz was removed from his post and a warrant issued for his arrest: he surrendered himself on Wednesday. As for Mr Bagheri, his mistake was to criticise the agreements between Turkey and Israel. The second of these was signed by a reluctant Mr Erbakan, under pressure from the Turkish military. Yesterday, Oguzhan Asilturk, a senior member of the Islamist Welfare Party said that the ambassador was to leave Turkey. But the ambassador appears far from chastened. "Turkey is a 99 per cent Muslim country," he said. "You are already living according to the sharia," he said after a ticking-off from the Turkish Foreign Ministry..
In the meantime, Mr Erbakan was fending off criticism from sections of his coalition partner, the centre-right True Path party. While Mr Erbakan can rely on the support of Tansu Ciller, the foreign minister and True Path leader, others look askance at the policy of friendship which Mr Erbakan has adopted towards Iran. This policy has also angered the United States, which is considering imposing limited sanctions on Turkey, after Mr Erbakan signed a $23bn (pounds 14bn) natural gas deal on a trip to Tehran.
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 3 Black Friday 2014: Opening hours for John Lewis, Asda, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 4 Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?
- 5 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Sarah Vine on Jack Monroe being a lesbian mother: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
Black Friday 2014: Opening hours for John Lewis, Asda, PC World, GAME and Argos
Michael Brown shooting: Ten things we know – or know better – now the Ferguson grand jury's work is over
Ferguson riots: The most powerful images to emerge from protests over Michael Brown killing
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...
£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...
£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...