Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Islam and democracy and how to fund fire protection.

What Turkey proves about Islam and democracy

In response to your July 11 editorial, "Saving Turkey's democracy": You write that Turkey is "an example that Islam and civil liberties can coexist." But the example of Turkey, in fact, shows just the opposite.

From the beginning, Turkish democracy was workable only because it was imposed upon the Islamic authorities by the force of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's army. And to this day, the Turkish Army is the only guarantor of secularism in Turkey. That is not coexistence between Islam and civil liberties.

Had democracy not been imposed on Islam and maintained by force, there would never have been any democracy in Turkey.

While Islam does not preclude holding elections, Islam does preclude freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of and from religion, equality of Muslims and non-Muslims, and equality of men and women – all of which are the foundations of our notion of democracy.

Carl Goldberg

In response to your recent editorial on democracy in Turkey: The statement "civil liberties and Islam can coexist" bothered me so much I just could not wait until the end of the article to write this. Islam and civil liberties coexisted for 500 years until the Western powers were strong enough to interfere.

Temel Sisman
Istanbul, Turkey

Regarding your recent editorial on democracy in Turkey: On the need to improve democracy through "constitutional and judicial reform," the Monitor is right, but what kind of reform?

Turkey is like France toward the end of its Fourth Republic. Under Gen. Charles de Gaulle, the French reformed the election system in 1958, producing the Fifth Republic and getting the kind of political stability that Turkey needs.

France uses a two-round system of voting (TRS). The TRS has brought about greater cooperation between French parties and decreased chances of extremist politicians being elected. Single party dominance has also been made more difficult.

The system will not lessen contentiousness in the political arena. However, it has worked very well. Turkey's flawed parliamentary election system is more likely to "simply drag their country down in a war of wills," as your editorial predicts.

William Edward Alli
Bowie, Md.

Entire state should pay for firefighting

In response to your July 9 editorial, "California's trial by fire": I am puzzled why the editorial states that California's urban residents shouldn't have to help pay for firefighting efforts. While rural dwellers do take higher risks, and thus should be prepared to pay higher fees for protection, wildfires affect the entire state.

This season, smoke has blanketed most of the state, including our cities, in a smelly brown haze. Also, the distinction between wild lands and urban areas is not always clear. Many California cities contain heavy tree canopies or protected greenbelts for wildlife and parks. This blending is not just the result of modern sprawl. Many of our oldest towns and cities contain such natural features. And let's not forget that California's earthquakes have been known to cause extensive fire damage from ruptured gas lines in cities with little vegetation.

So as a resident of an urban area, I am more than happy to pay a few dollars more each year if it will help California defend itself from further fire damage.

James B. Toy
Seaside, Calif.

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