By Thomas Seibert. Calls by a top member of the ruling party of Turkey for an Islamic constitution to replace the secular basic law in place in the country, a NATO member and crucial U.S. ally, have been rejected by politicians from all stripes, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, himself a pious Muslim. But as Erdogan is trying to avoid a debate that could harm him politically, the question remains: How should the relationship between state and religion be defined in a country with a 99 percent Muslim population?
Turkey’s current constitution, which enshrines the principle of secularism in Article 2, was drawn up under military rule in 1982. All parties in Ankara agree that a completely new text should be written to give Turkey a more modern and more democratic outlook.
Erdogan is trying to convince Turks to also change the form of government from the current parliamentary to a U.S.-style presidential one, with himself at the helm. The opposition says his real aim is absolute power without the sort of checks and balances that limit executive excesses elsewhere, amid speculation in the media that a referendum on a new constitution could be called this year. Erdogan cannot be sure that a majority of Turks would accept a presidential system in such a vote, with some polls saying support for his plan is as low as 35 percent. (Read more from “Europe’s First Islamic Constitution?” HERE)
Labor Candidate Favorite for London Mayor After Racially Charged Campaign
By William James. Sadiq Khan of opposition Labour Party is the strong favourite to win London’s mayoral election on Thursday after a contest marked by religious tensions and accusations of racism.
Polls show Khan, the son of a bus driver, is as much as 20 percentage points ahead of rival Conservative Zac Goldsmith in the race to run one of the world’s top financial centres. If he wins, he will succeed current Conservative mayor Boris Johnson to become the first Muslim to head a major Western capital.
London’s population of 8.6 million is among the most diverse in the world and it is rare for identity politics to enter British campaigning.
But Goldsmith, with the support of Prime Minister David Cameron, has for weeks focused on Khan’s faith and past appearances alongside radical Muslim speakers, accusing him of giving “platform, oxygen and cover” to extremists.
Former human rights lawyer Khan says he has fought extremism all his life and regrets sharing a stage with speakers who held “abhorrent” views. (Read more from “Labor Candidate Favorite for London Mayor After Racially Charged Campaign” HERE)