Will low-birth-rate Turks become a minority in their own country?


Turkey is emerging as a powerhouse in the Eastern Mediterranean: an economic power that has greater influence in the region and that promotes itself as a “model Muslim democracy”. However, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is worried about a problem that many Western nations are used to: a declining fertility rate and demographic problems in the medium future.

As the International Business Times reports, rising household incomes, greater access to education for women and increased use of birth control has seen the Turkish fertility rate steadily decline since the 1990s.

“Indeed, Dr. Ismet Koç, a demographer at Hacettepe University in Ankara, warned that Turkey’s fertility rate is now below 2.1, the replacement level, which suggests the population will eventually decline. The fertility level in more prosperous western Turkey is now about 1.5 — roughly the same as in Western Europe.”

But that is not the end of the story. While Turkey’s fertility rate as a whole is falling, the Kurdish minority of Turkey (currently 15 per cent of the population) has such a high birth rate that some (not the least of which is Prime Minister Erdogan) believe that they could become the majority in Turkey within two generations:

“According to Turkish government statistics, the average Kurdish woman in Turkey gives birth to about four children, more than double the rate for other Turkish mothers.

Thus, Turkey is facing a demographic time-bomb – Kurds, who tend to be concentrated in the country’s impoverished southeast and are generally poorer and less educated, could conceivably outnumber Turks within about 30 years should present patterns persist.

Erdogan seems to be certain this will happen.

If we continue the existing trend, [the year] 2038 will mark disaster for us, Erdogan warned in May 2010.”

Why, if the Kurds were to become a majority in 2038, would it be such a “disaster” according to Erdogan? Kurds have had a long history of “discrimination, deprivation, even state-sponsored violence” throughout the history of Turkey and many seek a separate homeland in the southeast of current Turkish borders. Thus, it is not surprising that Kurds represent a contentious theme in Turkish politics.

“For many years, it was, in fact, illegal for Kurds to speak their own language, use Kurdish names, play Kurdish music, etc. – part of a comprehensive attempt by Ankara to wipe out the separate ethnic identity of the Kurds. Indeed, some Turks regarded Kurds simply as ‘Mountain Turks.’

The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a Marxist militant movement which Turkey, the European Union and the U.S. brand as a terrorist group, has fought for a separatist nation for decades. The PKK’s periodic conflicts with the Turkish military have cost tens of thousands of lives on both sides – seemingly with no resolution in sight.”

How likely is it that Erdogan’s fears will be realised? According to Dr. Tino Sanandaji, a PhD in Public Policy at the University of Chicago who does research on demographic change and its link to policy, it is “impossible” that Kurds will be a majority in 2038: “In the 1930s, the Kurds constituted about 9 per cent of the population of Turkey, and though they had higher birth rates than the Turks it still took until the 1990s until they reached the 18 per cent level.”

Whatever the accuracy of the predictions, the fears are real and the Prime Minister is calling on Turks to do their patriotic duty and have more children so that the “disaster” of a Kurdish majority will not occur. Some however, believe that he is barking at the moon for all the good that his calls for more children will have. Cem Behar, an economics professor at the Istanbul’s Boazici University argued that:

“It’s clear that Turkey is going to face a decline in the growth rate of its population. Yet you cannot address such an issue by telling people to have more children…There is no family policy in Turkey. And I don’t think anyone is going to have more children just because [Erdogan] told them to do so. If the government really wants to promote having more children, it needs to prepare the necessary conditions for it, such as lowering taxes for those families or strengthening pre-school education.”

Even that may not be enough. Perhaps Kurds want to have more children than their Turkish neighbours…


Islamophobia and Islamism


Both the rise of Islamophobia and the rise of Islamism have the same source: non-Muslims not knowing Arabic. If most non-Muslims would know Arabic, like most non-Muslims do know English, non-Muslims would be able to sort out the threatening Muslims(i.e. Islamists) from the non-threatening Muslims. Also, if most non-Muslims would have known Arabic, it would have been very hard for Islamists to take power. For obvious reasons, defeating or even exterminating ALL Muslims would make knowing Arabic even more necessary. So ALL people will have to learn Arabic anyway.

Note: Geert Wilders and Erdoğan agree that moderate Islam does not exist.

Gul, Gulen, Gulenists and Turkey’s Political Civil War


A Turkish imam named Fethullah Gulen has been living in the U.S. for over a decade. Many consider him to be western civilizatin’s most dangerous imam. That may be but right now, Turkey’s Prime Minister appears to be fighting off Gulen’s supporters, known as Gulenists.

Gulen: He's emotional too.

Gulen: He’s emotional too.

A corruption scandal that appears to have set PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan in its sights, is being blamed on the Gulenists. One of those followers – President Abdullah Gul – is one such Gulenist, according to a 2009 cable revealed via Wikileaks:

…the political context for conversations about Gulen is complicated because President Gul is himself seen by almost all of our contacts as a Gulenist, while Prime Minister Erdogan is not. Indeed, some of our contacts have argued that Erdogan is so firmly outside the Gulen camp that Gulen loyalists view him as a liability.

In a piece by Alex Alexiev at National Review, the relationship between the Gulenists and Erdogan’s AKP Party is explained thusly:

Observers of the Turkish political scene have known for a long time that the Fethullah Gulen movement plays a crucial role as a reliable partner of the AKP in the steady Islamization of the country. It was also widely known in Turkey, though not in the West, that Gulen followers were a huge presence in the security organs, the justice system, and the police — according to U.S. diplomats, as early as 2006, 80 percent of senior police posts were filled by Gulen supporters. They played a dominant role in key Erdogan achievements, such as suppressing the military, curtailing freedom of speech, and brutally putting down the Gezi protests.

Those inclined to cheer on the Gulenists should hold their applause. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul have, for years, attempted to present a united front. Erdogan has a much harder time masking his intentions that does Gul, and by extension, Gulenists. Turkey’s president is much more politically savvy than Erdogan and if he truly is a Gulenist, he knows all about the imam’s chosen means for furthering that agenda – deception.

Muslim Brotherhood's Mursi and Erdogan of Turkey in happier times.

Muslim Brotherhood’s Mursi and Erdogan of Turkey in happier times.

Alexiev writes:

It (Gulenist movement) preaches a radical version of Islam and ultimately aims to destroy the secular order in Turkey and beyond. It is easy to see all of that if one goes behind the movement’s carefully cultivated façade, with its pious verbiage of interfaith dialogue, peace, and Islamic enlightenment, and looks directly into the writings of Gulen that inform his movement’s ideology.

Sound familiar? Furthermore, Gulen has a history of being extremly concerned about his movement’s agenda being revealed too soon because it would lead to disaster. In one of many speeches, he used metaphors that explained this. Erdogan, unlike Gul, has a much more difficult time keeping his goals hidden. In this regard, the Gulenist movement may see him as a threat.

Then there is the rough patch Erdogan’s Tukey has been through, which includes the ouster of Egypt’s Mohammed Mursi last year and a failure in Syria to see Bashar al-Assad’s removal. In this regard, Erdogan must be losing favor.

Gul has made a habit of playing his political calculus close to the vest. However, the blood in the water relative to how the corruption scandal could take down Erdogan, may be too enticing for Gul not to tip his hand.

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul is a Gulenist.

Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul is a Gulenist.

Dilay Gundogan at Middle East Online explains how the schism between the two leaders is coming to the surface:

Amid this fray Gul, who had stayed mum on the issue for a long time, broke his silence and came to the defence of the judiciary. He countered Erdogan by saying that the judiciary should be free from government interference.

“The legislative and executive powers are in a way accountable through elections but the judicial system is in a different position. For them, independence and impartiality is much more important,” Gul said on television last week.

Perhaps this stance from Gul does more than anything else to reveal where his allegiances lie. By siding with the Gulenist-dominated judiciary, Gul is taking sides in a burgeoning political civil war. He is not taking the side of Erdogan.