Waynedale Political Commentaries


The power of economics to overcome cultural and religious stigmas becomes apparent when considering three multi-national corporations that have established operations in mostly Muslim Turkey. Long before the Pope’s recent visit with all the accompanying protests and near media hysteria, three companies from non-Muslim countries–Hyundai, based in Korea, Carrefore, French-based, and Ikea, Swedish–all started multi-million dollar operations in Turkey. In spite of the recent Turkish boycott of all things French in reply to their recent resolution banning the denial of the Armenian genocide, Carrefore, which resembles a super Wal-Mart, continues to flourish in the urban areas. Ikea, a home-decorating store that carries quality, affordable Swedish furnishings, draws countless customers any night of the week. Hyundai, perhaps known best for its automobiles, manufactures several models right in Turkey at a massive plant just east of Istanbul and owns a large share of the Turkish auto market.

Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas. Their chief holidays are Ramazan and Sacrifice Holiday (Kurban). A lighted Christmas tree might offend the sensibilities of a modern Turk, but not nearly as much as it would have ten years ago. What happened? The same thing that has happened with the appearance of aisles and aisles of toys, holly and ivy, decorative angels and Christmas carols playing in English (or Swedish or French) in the showrooms of Carrefore and Ikea. And though South Korea is historically Buddhist, its growing Christian community (that includes the world’s largest church with half a million members in Seoul) has suddenly started popping up all over the urban areas as businessmen with Hyundai and other Korean companies arrive. The power of economics is bringing people who were once isolated increasingly into contact with a world unlike their own.

Not just Turkey, but the entire Muslim world faces a profound challenge whether it can or will adjust itself from a strict mono-culturalism (including religion), to pluralism, a context in which ideas can freely compete for the individual’s allegiance. While Turkish police routinely intimidate or even arrest Muslim converts to Christianity, it seems ridiculous to imagine them attempting to enter a three-story, twenty-acre department store complex like Ikea and confiscate all the little green and red Christmas cookies. For better or worse, economic globalization is bringing rigidly mono-cultural societies like Turkey into the broader world.

The Waynedale News Staff

Ron Coody

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