An Attack on Turkish Secularism?: Implications of the Council of State Shooting
- Rusen Cakir is a senior correspondent for the Turkish newspaper Vatan Daily
- Zeyno Baran is a Hudson Senior Fellow and director of its Center for Eurasian Policy. She is also an associate fellow at the Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World.
- Hillel Fradkin is a Hudson Senior Fellow and director of the Center of Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World.
On May 17, 29-year old lawyer Alparslan Arslan entered Turkey’s highest administrative court, announced himself as “the soldier of God” and shot five judges, killing one. These judges had previously decided to enforce a strict ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarves, which has increasingly become a hot political issue in a secular Turkish democracy that is now ruled by a party with Islamist roots.
Was this an attack against Turkish secularism? The president of Turkey believes that it was—and he is not alone. On May 18, tens of thousands gathered in front of the mausoleum of Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish republic, proclaiming that “Turkey will remain secular.”
While little is known of Mr. Arslan’s background at this point (reportedly, he is an ultra-nationalist who, while not belonging to any Islamist organizations, has demonstrated radical tendencies), it is already clear that May 17 will become a major turning point in Turkish domestic politics.
To discuss the implications of this attack and to evaluate Turkey’s progress in combating Islamist terrorism, Hudson Institute will host a panel discussion with Senior Fellow Zeyno Baran, who closely follows domestic political developments in Turkey, and Rusen Cakir, representative of the Turkish daily newspaper Vatan and the author of several books on Turkish Islamist movements. Senior Fellow Hillel Fradkin will moderate.
A PDF version of the transcript is available here.