Democracy's Dilemma

With this documentary, Backlight holds up a mirror to its viewers. Are EU citizens willing to accept the combination of Islam and democracy? Or are Muslims by definition seen as wolves in sheep’s clothing? In collaboration with Fareed Zakaria, Backlight analyzes the current situation in Turkey.

Westerners are hesitant to criticize democracy because they regard it as the best form of government and the best system with which to protect national security. But as political analyst and Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria has pointed out: “democracy can degenerate into tyranny of the majority.” To what extent does this holds true today in a country like Turkey? How far are western democrats willing to go to accept the implications of democratic choices?

During the past decade, the wonders of democracy have brought Turkey into an awkward position. Constitutionally Turkey is a secular state, but the 2002 democratic elections gave the Islamic AK-party an absolute majority in parliament. More than anyone, these Islamite’s want Turkey to join Europe: because of trade; because of freedom of religion. In the words of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an: “Is Europe a home for an alliance of civilizations or is it a Christian club? If the former is true, then Turkey should be part of it.”

With this documentary, Backlight holds up a mirror to its viewers. Are EU citizens willing to accept the combination of Islam and democracy? Or are Muslims by definition seen as wolves in sheep’s clothing? In collaboration with Fareed Zakaria, Backlight will analyze the current situation in Turkey. Subsequently “Democracy Dilemma’s” will focus on the city of Kayseri in central Turkey and its new, industrial elite. These entrepreneurs, dubbed “Islamic Calvinists,” make up the strong constituency of Abdullah Gül, the first Islamic president of Turkey. Backlight will also portray Gül’s opponents, army officers who are trying to maintain the secularist legacy of Kemal Atatürk.

Will Europe accept its new friends? Or will Turkey’s Islamic tendencies definitively end its European aspirations?

Director: IJsbrand van Veelen / Dorothée Forma
Research:William de Bruijn / Mehmet Emin Alkanlar / Dilek Köse
Producer: Doke Romijn / Jos de Putter