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Published: Tuesday, 12/3/2002

Turkish vote wasn't about religion

Many were shocked by the recent victory of an Islamic party in the national elections of our secular ally, Turkey. It is clear how little we understand Turkey and the Turks.

Turkish society is split between a minority of Islamic fundamentalists (10 percent to 15 percent of the population) and a majority of secular, western-oriented Muslims, many only partially observant and some who give no importance to religion. It may be surprising that many Turks celebrate Christmas for fun and that Turkey has thriving beer and wine industries.

No one knows better the importance of the separation of church and state than the Turks. After all, their once large and powerful empire was lost partly because of the increasing influence of religion in government.

A learned people became ignorant and an advanced society became technologically backward and unable to compete with the other European powers during the industrial revolution. Furthermore, the Turks see what a religion twisted has done to their neighbors Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Why then did the Islamists win? One reason is that the Turkish electoral system requires that a party get at least 10 percent of the vote to enter parliament. The secular vote was split among so many parties that only one exceeded the threshold. Thus the Islamists got a majority in parliament with only 34 percent of the vote. In the last election the Islamists only got 15 percent of the vote.

Did an extra 19 percent of Turks suddenly find religion in four years? Obviously not, but the Turks were fed up with the established yet ineffectual and corrupt parties that recently led Turkey into its worst economic crisis since World War II.

The Turks sent a message. It had nothing to do with religion.



Insurance costs hard on young drivers

Insurance companies take obscene advantage of our young drivers.

My son was quoted a price of $210 a month for coverage. This is outrageous!

These kids go to driver's education, and most of them are responsible drivers. Insurance companies better start taking into consideration that these young adults are the ones who in the future will be putting dinner on their tables.

The state, or even national government should look into this unfair practice and put a stop to it.

How can a young adult afford this kind of cost, plus try to go to college to better themselves? With the money insurance companies currently make, would it really be that difficult for them to lower their prices for college students?


Cherry Street

Easing the truck traffic problem

Perhaps this is an over-simplification of a complex problem, but I believe the truck traffic problem on U.S. 24 and in Woodville could be solved if the trucking companies were offered a special half-price toll rate on the whole turnpike if the trucks ran between midnight and 6:00 a.m.

The state could probably subsidize this plan with the money it would save on road building and maintenance. A win-win situation and “do-able.”



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