Elif Shafak on Turkey and Turkish

In New Perspectives Quarterly, an interview with the writer Elif Shafak.

“NPQ: Modernization in Turkey came from above. Today modernization again comes from above in Turkey in the form of a soft Islam ideology that is trying to appease Europe in order for Turkey to get into the EU.

Shafak: I think we should take into account the fact that most of the Turks do want to join the EU, sometimes for different reasons. But it’s not only a political decision. The Turkish society too wants to join the EU. We should all struggle for it because it’s important for many reasons. I want to see the role of the military and the role of the state apparatus diminish in Turkey. I want Turkey to become a more civil society-based country rather than a state-centered country. Even academic intellectuals are so state oriented, they always think about the well being of the state but not really the well being of the civil society. . .

Turkey in the EU. Turkey’s inclusion in the EU is going to be good for both sides. We are living in a very dangerous time. There is the danger of the world being divided into two camps. There are people who believe in a clash of civilizations between the Muslim world and the Western world. . . My worldview is that it’s not a clash of civilizations but it’s a clash of opinions.

On the one hand we have the nationalists with a lot of xenophobia, people who want to live with their mirror images; on the other hand there are the cosmopolitans, people who are willing to live with others coming from different backgrounds. It’s also a big test for the Europeans because most Europeans are asking themselves ‘what are we going to do with so many Muslim minorities in the middle of the EU?’ So it’s a big question of coexistence for all of us.”