One of my favorite writers on religious freedom is Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol. Check out his courageous and innovative book, Islam Without Extremes. Today, his analysis appears in the New York Times in a column taking to task Turkey’s powerful president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for the increasingly harsh, closed, and authoritarian Islam that he is imposing on Turkey, especially in education. The policy of unfreedom is inimical to the economic and political dynamism through which Turkey has prospered as of late. Secularism, though, is not Akyol’s answer. For most of the Republic of Turkey’s modern history, it was under the equally closed, authoritarian — and stifling — secular dogmas of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Erdogan’s recent direction is sad, for from 2002 to 2010, he led Turkey in the direction of political and economic openness — a prying open of Ataturk’s rigid secularism towards a religiously vibrant liberal democracy.
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