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Mustafa Akyol & David Kelley, PhD
Moderator: Bob Bowdon
Co-Sponsors: International Policy Network, The Smith Family Foundation
Some say that Islam is not compatible with capitalism and that this is part of a wider “clash of civilizations.” But is Islam really incompatible with the key features of capitalism: free markets, investment and trade, the profit motive and pursuit of self-interest? Does it inherently promote collectivisim at the expense of individualism? Is it not open to the values of science, invention, innovation, and progress? Or is it quite compatible with the spirit of individualism, including individual rights, the rule of law, discovery and scientific progress? The answers to these questions will in large part determine whether Muslims can ultimately live peaceably with non-Muslims. So we are delighted to host a discussion of these issues between two learned experts, Mustafa Akyol (Opinion Editor and Columnist, Turkish Daily News, Istanbul) and David Kelley (Founder and Senior Fellow, The Atlas Society, Washington DC)
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 6:30 P.M. Prompt (Free and open to the public)
Donnell Public Library 20 West 53rd Street (Between 5th and 6th avenue), New York
Here is a brief note: The Atlas Foundation is organizing the second Ibn-Khaldoun Essay Contest and I strongly advise young writers to consider joining it. Islamic world needs to focus on the means of creating economic prosperity, and the best medium for that, as Islamic scholar Ibn-Khaldoun argued centuries ago, is based on free markets and limited governments. It is time to rediscover that wisdom and apply to modern realities.
In his piece titled “For Turkey, A Clash of Civilizations” Rod Dreher, editorial columnist for The Dallas Morning News, writes the following:
Mustafa Akyol, a 35-year-old Istanbul journalist who often defends the AKP in his column, says the party miscalculated when it tried to criminalize adultery and to create alcohol-free areas in some towns. That gave secularists an excuse to accuse the party of setting off on the slippery slope to Turkey’s Talibanization. “From my point of view, this is just a conservative moral policy which even sometimes I criticize – but this is not the way to sharia,” Mr. Akyol says. “If you can’t negotiate and agree on these things, you push [observant Muslims], and you tell them there is no place for your lifestyle in this country.”
Michael Gerson, who used to be the speech writer of President Bush, and is currently a fellow at the CFR and a columnist for The Washington Post, has a piece titled, “An Islamic Test for Turkey.” I appear in Mr. Gerson’s remarks as follows:
Secularists accuse the AKP of seeking a slow-motion Islamist revolution. Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol — a young, pro-American moderate conservative with a tendency to quote philosopher Leo Strauss — regards this as a serious overreaction: “The AK Party has traces of Islamism, but it is moving toward becoming a conservative, Muslim democratic party,” more akin to the Christian Democratic parties of Europe. So far, the AKP has been pro-capitalism, pro-European Union and a defender of Islamic family values, instead of being an advocate of Islamic law.
The weekly news magazine, US News and World Report published a detailed and very well-writen story about Turkey’s current political debates titled “Continental Divide: Turkey Again Tests Whether Islam Can Coexist With Democracy”. The writer, Mr. Jay Tolson, mentions me in the piece as follows:
[Turkey’s] delicate issues will continue to include Islam and the question of how much religion is permissible in the public sphere. Mustafa Akyol, a bright young columnist for the English-language Turkish Daily News, makes a very convincing case for the moderate traditional religiosity that most AKP supporters embrace.
On May 2, I had a piece in the Turkish Daily News titled “The Secularist Hype In Turkey Is A Fact-Free Paranoia.” In his May 14 piece, Fareed Zakaria, the editor and columnist of the Newsweek magazine, agreed with my assessment in his piece which had the web title, “Worries About Turkey Are ‘Fact-Free Paranoia’.” Based on his evaluation of the Turkish political scene, and his interview with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, Dr. Zakaria wrote,
Gul is right. The secular establishment’s suspicions about the AK are best described by Turkish columnist Mustafa Akyul as “fact-free paranoia.
The only thing is that my surname is Akyol, not Akyul. But no problem. I appreciate Dr. Zakaria’s quote and agreement.
Last Friday (May 25, 2007) I delivered a speech at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The event, titled “Turkey’s Political Battle: Secularism vs. Democracy” was presided by CFR fellow Steven A. Cook, and was based on my assessment of the current debate in Turkey over secularism and “the Republic.” You can download and listen to the audio recording of my speech and the Q & A session here. And the full transcript of the meeting is also available here on the CFR website.
Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad published a full-page profile of me, based on an interview by native journalist Camilla Waas. The title reads, “Muslim i jeans til kamp mod mistilliden” which, I have been informed, means “Muslim in jeans fighting against the mutual mistrust.” Well, that sounds accurate — at least I do wear jeans quite often.
The full text is down below, for those who can read Danish. (And if any of those privileged kindly decide to let me know about the content, I will appreciate.)
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Mustafa Akyol will be speaking at two events at the MacLaurin Institute of the University of Minnesota on October 19-20. The first one, “International Journalists’ Forum on Intelligent Design”, will host Canadian journalist Denyse O’Leary and Akyol as speakers and will start at 8 pm on October 19. In the second event, Akyol will give a talk on “The Pope and Islam” with a response by Dr. Terry Nichols (Professor of Theology, University of St. Thomas), which will start at 2:30 pm on October 20.
For further details, see the MacLaurin Institute website.
Fikret Bila, an op-ed writer for the prominent Turkish national daily, Milliyet, has commended Akyol’s Rethinking The Kurdish Question in his column. “Mustafa Akyol, a young researcher” wrote Bila,
“[has] treated the Kurdish question in a multidimensional way. His research is quite scholarly. The work, which makes use of national and international resources, handles the question in its regional framework. Akyol bases his study on scientific resources and analyzed his findings from a liberal point of view.
Akyol reaches the conclusion that approaches such as autonomy, a federation or independence can
On October 15, 2005, Intelligent Design Network announced that it elected Mustafa Akyol to its Board of Directors. Akyol will be the first and only Muslim member of the board.
Intelligent Design Network is a nonprofit national organization that seeks institutional objectivity in origins science. As its charter explains, “objectivity is necessary because many institutions systematically suppress any objective consideration of that disagreement.”
IPI Global Journalist, the radio of the International Press Institute, hosted a discussion on Intelligent Design on Sept. 29, 2005. Along with four other journalists from Philadelphia Inquirer, Inside the Vatican, JTA News and Tricycle Magazine, Mustafa Akyol joined the program, and argued for the scientific integrity of Intelligent Design theory and explained the Muslim point of view on the ongoing debate about biological origins.
The program is available to listen online here.
Phillip E. Johnson — Professor of Law (emeritus) at the University of California at Berkeley, one of the prominent contemporary Christian thinkers in the US, and the leading figure in the Intelligent Design movement — has written about Mustafa Akyol in his latest Touchstone column. Johnson mentions his friendship with Akyol as an example that can be followed other Christians and Muslims.
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Mustafa Akyol was one of speakers at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the American Jewish Committee, which was held in Washington DC, between May 2-6, 2005. Speakers of the meeting included President Bill Clinton, Mithal Jamal Hussein Al-Alusi (Founder of the Democratic Party of the Iraqi Nation), Ambassador Dennis Ross, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick (Archbishop of Washington) and James Woolsey (former director of the CIA).
Akyol’s speech is available in audio form at the AJC Annual Meeting web page.
Mustafa Akyol gave a testimony to the Kansas State Education Board during the hearings on proposed changes to the State’s science standards, which was held in Topeka, Kansas, on May 5-7, 2005.
His testimony pointed to the importance of an objective and unbiased education from a Muslim point of view. It is materialism, Akyol says, that put distrust among Muslim towards the Western culture and getting rid of materialist indoctrination in the education system will be an important step in reconciliating the gap between the West and the East.
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Neuhaus, who is the editor of First Things and one of America’s leading religious intellectuals agrees with Akyol that American culture “should celebrate more than materialism, disbelief, selfishness, and hedonism.”
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Caffe Europa, a widely read Italian magazine, published an interview with Mustafa Akyol in its October 2, 2004 issue. The interview titled “Turkish Islam wil be an antidote to fundamentalism” it available here , yet only in Italian.