As a teenager growing up in a tough Istanbul neighborhood, Recep Tayyip Erdogan studied to be an Islamic cleric. His dream, though, was to become a professional player on the local Kasimpasa football team. In the end, neither ambition worked out: he became Turkey’s prime minister instead. Now, after nine years in power, Erdogan has just pulled off his third—and biggest—general-election win on an ambitious program that includes a radical redrawing of Turkey’s Constitution. The theology student from Kasimpasa now wants to remake the hard-wiring of the Turkish state by scrapping restrictions on religious freedom; creating a powerful French-style presidency (presumably with himself as the first incumbent); and by making the country’s judges, universities, and Army more accountable to Parliament: a to-do list that rings loud alarm bells for many Turks—and friends of Turkey. The country’s old secular elite fears that allowing Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party a say in the appointment of judges, school principals, and university rectors will make the country more Muslim and more conservative. Pundits and politicians in America and Israel aren’t thrilled with the idea of giving Erdogan more power—especially after he railed about a Jewish press conspiracy against him during the campaign. And Turkey’s chattering classes are increasingly concerned about Erdogan’s intolerance of criticism. One hostile newspaper magnate has been landed with crippling tax bills, while more than 60 Turkish journalists languish in jail—more than in China.
Read the complete story(Some news sites require registration)