There has been a mixed reaction in Turkey to the election of Abdullah Gul as the country’s new president. The ex-foreign minister was sworn-in on Tuesday despite the objections of a powerful military that fears a creeping “Islamisation” of the country’s secular order.
Gul has pledged to uphold the principles of secularism and democracy, which he says also guarantees the freedom of religion. But his words have failed to sway his strongest critics. In contrast to past inaugurations, the army’s top brass and much of the secular elite, including the main opposition party, stayed away from his swearing-in ceremony.
Although Gul won a third parliamentary vote by a clear majority, hundreds of people alarmed at the prospect of his wife wearing the Islamic headscarf protested in front of the heavily-guarded presidential palace. But in Gul’s home town, Kayseri, thousands took to the streets to celebrate Gul becoming the first modern politician with a background in political Islam to win the symbolically important post.