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Turkey Needs Sabrina!

Posted on 9/19/2017

     In my recent novel, “Captives in the Shadows”, Sabrina tells Barrett that she is of Selijuk origin. Barrett predictably replies, “Seli-who?” This 11th Century Empire gets little acknowledgement in Western literature although it covered an enormous area at its peak. Its persistent influence continues in Turkey, but the Empire included parts of India, the Levant, and Central Asia. Sabrina’s idealized new Selijuk Revolution echoes some of the values of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Ataturk means, “Father of the Turks”. Kemal united the remnants of The Ottoman Empire after World War I and fought to prevent the partitioning of the nation. As Sabrina informs Barrett, the First World War did not end in 1918. Although Kemal did suppress minorities in his policy of “Turkification”, he also followed the lead of Western democracies to create a secular Republic in 1923. He instituted equality for women ahead of most of Western Europe. In the spirit of Ataturk, Sabrina volunteered her entire life to end religious fanaticism in her homeland and institute a true secular democracy.

     With the above information in mind, I could only feel a deep sadness when I opened the New York Times (“Darwin is Crowded Out by Religion”, 9/19/17, p.4) and read Dan Bilefsky’s article about the educational “reforms” in Turkey, initiated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. More than 170 curriculum topics have been revised. The theory of evolution is rejected and Darwin is never mentioned. There has been a significant increase in religious schools. Biology courses are reduced in the high schools. With the horrors surrounding Ataturk’s nation --- ISIS, Syria, Pakistan, etc. --- it is painful to see the shining light of secularism take another hit. While open-minded legal experts and philosophers struggle to tease out ethical approaches to diversity and conflict, the encroachment of fanatical beliefs span the old Selijuk region. I wonder if Sabrina and her covert organization are out there.

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