Writing in the Evening Standard, Melanie McDonagh explains why it would be a mistake to let Turkey become a member of the EU. Partly, of course, the problem is that London would be inundated with foreign immigrants. But it’s worse than that:
The real objection, though, to Turkey joining the EU is more fundamental than that. Turkey isn’t really European at all, so much as Asian. Only about three per cent of its land mass is in Europe, on our side of the Bosphorus; 97 per cent is in Asia. Its accession would expand our common EU borders to Iraq, Iran and Syria. Is that honestly what we want?
The most common response by British ministers to objections to Turkish membership is that it encourages moderate Islam by showing that a non-extremist Muslim nation can be part of the European family. That, plus strategic considerations, is why the US is so much in favour of the idea.
Well, if we want to show that Muslims can indeed be part of Europe, let’s expedite the membership of those genuinely European countries with large or majority Muslim populations: Albania, anyone? Kosovo? Bosnia? If we’re so keen on outreach to Islam, let’s start there.
And moderation, when it comes to Islam, is pretty relative, after all. Turkey isn’t going to go for sharia law any time soon but a recent poll conducted by Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University suggested that 48 per cent of respondents would not want Christians as neighbours, more than half wouldn’t want Jews; four-fifths didn’t want homosexuals. Moderate Islam, eh?
But don’t get the idea that Melanie is one of those all-purpose religion-bashers. Not at all. She was very upset about the anti-Catholic vitriol unleashed by the pope’s visit to the UK. As it happens, I broadly agree with her on that. But she might perhaps reflect on the fact the pope himself is hardly a beacon of enlightenment on such issues as abortion, homosexuality and women priests. Moderate Catholicism, eh?