Gjesteskribent

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USA ville demokratisere Midtøsten, men har måttet erkjenne at der hvor det åpnes for demokrati er det islamister i en eller annen form som vinner. Det sivile samfunn er for svakt. Tyrkia representerer en annen variant: her tar islamistene over staten innenfra.

Det skjer blant annet fordi det reformerte islamistpartiet AKP viste seg å være dyktige administratorer som har skapt en økonomisk oppgang. Det har skapt en helt ny from, selvbevisst middelklasse.

Kona til utenriksminister Abdullah Gul, Hayrunisa (42), er et eksempel på den nye troende, men moderne islamist: Hun ber fem ganger om dagen, og barna arbeider for Merill Lynch, Rolls Royce osv.

Mrs Gul is unquestionably devout. She prays five times a day and took Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights after she was barred from attending university because of her headscarf. But she comes across not as a fully paid up member of the Taleban, but as a modern, Western-minded woman who practises a very tolerant form of Islam.

She was happy talking and shaking hands with a male reporter. Her oldest son works for Merrill Lynch in London, her daughter trained as an industrial engineer and as an apprentice with Rolls-Royce in Britain and her youngest son spent two terms at school in New York. Not all her female entourage wear headscarves, and she sought to discourage her daughter from wearing one so that she could go to university.

Mrs Gul also believes strongly in gender equality. If her husband became president, she said, she would work to promote the education of Turkish women and make them more aware of their political and legal rights.

Denne reformvennlige siden gjør at den liberale siden i Tyrkia er splittet. Mange støtter AKP mot de korrupte, gamle strukturene.

Tidehverv

Den tid hvor hæren kunne gripe inn synes forbi. AKP får det som det vil. Nasjonalforsamlingen stemte torsdag for at presidenten skal velges ved direkte valg, at perioden kortes ned fra sju til fem år, med mulighet for gjenvalg. Og at nasjonalforsamlingen er beslutningsdyktig med 183 til stede. Med en president fra AKP kan partiet fylle staten med «fromme», dvs. troende tilhengere: øverste embetsmenn, dommere osv., de som sitter med makten i forvaltningen.

Det har allerede skjedd på lavere nivå, som i skolene. Troende lærerer har kommet inn og preger i stadig sterkere grad undervisningen. Det skjer ikke programmatisk, men gradvis, umerkelig. Sekulære tyrkere er urolige. Islamiseringen skjer som et naturfenomen. Sabrina Tavernise fra New York Times har vært i den vestlige delen av Tyrkia, den mest vestvendte, og gjør overraskende «funn»:

The little red prayer book was handed out in a public primary school here in western Turkey earlier this month. It was small enough to fit in a pocket, but it carried a big message: Pray in the Muslim way. Get others to pray, too.

«The message was clear to me,» said a retired civil servant, whose 13-year-old son, a student at the Yesilkoy Ibrahim Cengiz school, received the book. «This is not something that should be distributed in schools.»

This leafy, liberal city would seem like one of the least likely places to allow Islam to permeate public life. But for some residents, the book is part of a subtle shift toward increasingly public religiosity that has gone hand-in-hand with the ascent of the party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The phenomenon is complex: The party has not ordered changes, but sets examples through a growing network of observant teachers and public servants who have been hired since it came to power in 2002.

The shift goes to the heart of the question that has gripped this country for the past two months: As the party settles more deeply into the bureaucracy, will it bring Islam with it? Or will it keep its roots in the past, and leave the public sphere as nonreligious as before?
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But secular residents say that they see changes, and that they are the inevitable outcome of several decades of economic transformation. «In a very quiet, deep way, you can sense an Islamization,» said Bedrettin Usanmaz, a jewelry shop owner in Denizli. «They’re not after rapid change. They’re investing for 50 years ahead.»
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But secular Turks argue that Islam will always seek more space in people’s lives, and therefore should be reined in. They look to the military as secularism’s final defender.

«Islam is not like other religions,» said Kadim Yildirim, a history teacher in Denizli from an opposition labor union. «It influences every part of your life, even your bedroom.»

Yildirim is part of a number of concerned teachers who say that the new teachers hired in recent years, often from conservative backgrounds, are adding up to a change in the education system.

Overtakelse

Utskiftingen av personale synes både å skje både bevisst og ubevisst. Sekulære forstår at det ikke bare er et vanlig personskifte, det er selve samfunnsordenen som endres når islam-troe overtar.

Last month, the Education Ministry relaxed requirements for appointing new school principals. It was later annulled, but in the brief period it was in effect approximately 4,500 people in 40 cities across Turkey were appointed as principals and deputy principals, two-thirds of whom were affiliated with Erdogan’s party, according to an analysis by Egitim-Sen, an opposition education labor union.

According to a report to Parliament by the education minister, 836 people from the government’s Religious Affairs Directorate have been transferred to the ministry’s offices during Erdogan’s tenure. That has also led to lifestyle changes in the bureaucracy: In Denizli, during the month of fasting in Ramadan, the lunchroom in the Ministry of Education no longer serves food, in an assumption that all workers are religious, employees said.

Ignorert

Det vises ofte til at presidenten har blokkert utnevnelser av AKP-tilhengere eller troende. Men Tavernise kan fortelle at andre myndigheter vet å omgå dette ved å la vedkommende fungere midlertidig i samme stilling, feks. i skoleverket.

But power has already changed substantially under Erdogan’s party, despite attempts by the secular establishment to stop it. Government candidates that were vetoed by the president have continued in the prospective positions as «substitutes,» including the head of the public television and radio, the Education Ministry director in the city of Izmir, and the director of research and training at the Ministry of Culture. In the Education Ministry alone, 536 are working without approval, according to the minister.

Lærebøker

Tyrkia har modernisert sine lærebøker i tråd med EUs krav. Noe av den gamle nasjonalismen er tonet ned, men er i stedet erstattet av en ny konservatisme med religiøst islett. Blant annet er utlegningen av darwinismen erstattet av en islamsk kreasjonisme: skapningene oppsto fullt ferdig.

Perhaps the most sensitive point for teachers like Yildirim are the changes they say are occurring in textbooks. Changes were already under way, part of an upgrade needed to join the European Union, but some officials say that as the nationalism is taken out, a new conservatism is being put in.

One of the country’s primary eighth-grade science books, for example, «Science Knowledge,» has lost its detailed description of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and gained a reference to a theory that holds that living beings did not evolve but came into being exactly as they are today, attributed to several ancient Asian scholars. The reference was not there before, nor was the word Islamic to describe them.

En viktig forutsetning for islamiseringen er tilstrømmingen til byen. Antall innbyggere i Denizli er tidoblet på 25 år. Mange fra landsbygda fikk seg jobb i tekstilfabrikkene på 80-tallet. Landsbyungdom fikk et helt annet undervisningstilbud enn de var vant til. Religiøse stiftelser trådte til og tilbød innkvartering i studenthospitser, hvor det fulgte med religiøs veiledning.

Pragmatikere sier at AKP står for et nytt borgerskap, og at det å få status og tjene penger betyr mer enn religionen. Man kunne kanskje si at noen av de religiøse dydene bidrar til suksessen, både politisk og karrieremessig. Men de som ikke deler deres oppfatninger får det ikke like lett.


Is this just a headscarf – or really a threat to democracy?

Islam taking root in Turkey’s bureaucracy