By Robert Mann
I’m leaving this afternoon for Istanbul. Perhaps it’s not the best time to dive back into Turkey, with all the protests and turmoil. But it’s also a grand time to visit a country — when it’s struggling with the transition to democracy.
Turkey is far more democratic than many countries in that region and, for a time, it’s been held up the model of a Muslim country that embraces democracy.
This is my fifth trip there in as many years, and I can say that the Turkish people I’ve met and come to know — most of them devout Muslims — are deeply committed to democracy and pluralism.
They are happy that their economy is booming. They are delighted by the many freedoms they now enjoy. They are grateful that the current government headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has enabled them to freely express their faith, i.e., women wearing headscarves. (Imagine if, in the United States, it had been illegal for citizens to wear a cross around their necks when entering a public building or in a school.)