Bush hails Turkey, says Muslims should not fear democracy
President Bush said Tuesday that "freedom is the future of the Middle East" and that Islamic countries need not fear the spread of democracy.
Bush cited Turkey as an example of an Islamic state with a secular government that has found a place in the community of democracies.
"In some parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, there is wariness toward democracy, often based on misunderstanding," the US leader said. "Some people in Muslim cultures identify democracy with the worst of Western popular culture and want no part of it."
He made his remarks before ending a five-day trip to Ireland and Turkey.
Bush said nations attending the NATO summit, which closes in Istanbul on Tuesday, have agreed to work together with nations of the broader Middle East to fight terrorism, control their borders and aid victims of disaster. But he said more action was needed.
"We must strengthen the ties of trust and good will between ourselves and the peoples of the Middle East," Bush said. "And trust and good will come more easily when men and women clear their minds and their hearts of suspicion and prejudice and unreasoned fear."
Bush also reiterated his backing of Turkey's bid to join the European Union, saying it was important to ease Muslim-Christian tensions.
"Including Turkey in the EU would prove that Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion, and it would expose the 'clash of civilizations' as a passing myth of history," Bush said.
Bush has said he believes democracy can flourish in Muslim countries, just as it has in Turkey.
In his speech Tuesday, Bush also heralded Monday's transfer of sovereignty in Iraq and NATO's decision to help train Iraqi security forces. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)