A Quran recitation at the latest Aug. 30 Victory Day ceremony, something that could not even have been proposed in past governments, is a strong indication that Turkey has made peace with the religious faith of its people
It was enough to look at the Aug. 30 ceremony held on Sunday at the Presidential Palace to understand how Turkey has changed radically over the last seven to eight years, because eight years ago the content of this ceremony would have been enough for some circles to ignite a military coup in the country.
Let's start off with the issue of the headscarf, which was embarrassing for Turkey at that time. Wearing a headscarf was banned in Turkey's universities. For some circles, the motivation for preventing Abdullah Gül's presidency was his wife wearing a headscarf. Even a case to close the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had been brought forward because of this. The aftermath is, however, already known. Gül became president after a long fight, and as a result Turkey started to determine its president by election after the pertinent item in the Constitution was changed.
Hence, at those dire times the Turkish Armed Forces command units did not participate in ceremonies to protest the president's wife's headscarf. Today, however, when Emine Erdoğan walks into the ceremonies room, Turkish Armed Forces command units stand still and applaud her strongly. The second sign of change is the status of religion in the public sphere. In early times in Turkey, the meaning of secularism spared no space for religion in the public sphere and religious practices were seen as signs of non-conformism. So, on Sunday afternoon when the Quran was recited for soldiers and police who had been killed at the Presidential Palace, the Turkish Armed Forces command units listened peacefully.
In addition, this ceremony was held on the same day as when Turkey's first headscarf-wearing minister started her duty. These are the signs showing that the Turkish state now has no problem with its people's religion. Of course, there were other things in this ceremony that revealed different aspects of Turkey's change. Among them, first and maybe the foremost was the place itself. For the first time this ceremony was held at the new Presidential Palace in Beştepe, Ankara. This magnificent palace sits on a large tract of land and welcomes its guests through a huge court. This alone represents Turkey's flourishing power and self-confidence. The growing cacophony about this palace is nothing more than the delirium of those who cannot digest this power and who used to see Turkey as a withdrawn, inconspicuous country.
Another interesting point, and maybe the real surprise, was the live connections to our soldiers on the border, in Afghanistan and even the Indian Ocean. At the time when the PKK escalated its treacherous attacks and a lot of people are dying as a result, this gave great morale and unification. The fact that Turkey's current technology made this possible was also important in revealing the nature of change. In breif, Aug. 30 2015 was a significant date in showing how much the country has progressed from past to present. Of course, Turkey is currently having a hard time, where a new government could not be formed, terror attacks escalated in the south and the country is heading into snap elections. But all of these negative incidents can be overcome if the nation realizes the country's drastic change and appreciates reform.