Friday, February 15, 2008

Insulting Canadian-ness, anyone?

Private assaults on believers/unbelievers are a risk, but government-backed ones, often on behalf of secularism, are also a major challenge, according to reports by the Acton Institute, such as this one:
In 1971, the Turkish government shut down Halki, the partriarchal seminary on Heybeliada Island in the Sea of Marmara. And it has progressively confiscated Orthodox Church properties, including the expropriation of the Buyukada Orphanage for Boys on the Prince's Islands (and properties belonging to an Armenian Orthodox hospital foundation). These expropriations happen as religious minorities report problems associated with opening, maintaining, and operating houses of worship. Many services are held in secret. Indeed, Turkey is a place where proselytizing for Christian and even Muslim minority sects can still get a person hauled into court on charges of "publicly insulting Turkishness." This law has also been used against journalists and writers, including novelist Orhan Pamuk for mentioning the Armenian genocide and Turkey's treatment of the Kurds.

But, significantly, the Institute warns,
The patriarch's solution to Turkey's problems -- and that of religious minorities -- is to move the country to a more Western model of tolerance and religious freedom by bringing it into the European Union. "It is my conviction that the accession of Turkey to the European Union would benefit all of its citizens, including the minority communities of the country," Bartholomew writes in his new book. "For Turkey would be required to make significant, indeed substantial modifications to its legislation, adhering to the principles of other European nations."

The EU Card

Unfortunately, recent history is not so favorable to this view. It is a doubtful proposition that the EU mandarins in Brussels, who resisted any effort to mention the Christian roots of European civilization in a failed draft constitution, would come rushing to the aid of the Patriarchate and other religious minorities.

There is a vast difference between a secularism like that of North America - which is simply a means of disentangling religion from politics, and tends to benefit both - and a secularism like that of France or Turkey, where secularism is pursued as some kind of virtue for its own sake.

Then you get idiotic crimes like “insulting Turkishness.” To see what I mean, try out a phrase like “insulting Canadian-ness.” If that ever becomes a crime, I’ll know things are going nuts here.