A. R. Jerral Aphotograph printed on page 22 of TIMEs issue of July 5, 2010 must have sent freezing winds through the western capitals. The picture shows a young Turkish lady dressed in Muslim headdress displaying an armband with ALLAH written in bold Arabic script. Her companion, a young Turkish man is also wearing an armband with the Islamic declaration of faith - the Kalima - in bold Arabic script. This is the face of new Turkey. This picture shows that almost 90 years of Kemalist secular indoctrination has come to naught. The young Turkey is re-discovering it roots. The 1920s saw defeated and demoralised Turkey washing clean its entire Islamic heritage and turning towards the European lifestyle and socio-political culture. Kemal Attat-urk banned the Arabic script, Islamic dress and enforced western social and political values. In his estimation the Western values, culture and political system were the basic vehicles for progress. These values were vigorously enforced and by mid 1950s it was generally observed that Turks considered themselves more Europeans than Eastern or Middle Eastern. By mid 20th century, Turkey conveyed a social image which was complete European than eastern. Yet, the image was deceptive. When I travelled through Turkey in 1997, I found two distinct Turkeys co-existing side by side - the Urban Turkey and the Rural Turkey. The urban Turkey was western in culture, lifestyle, dress, individual and collective behaviour. An average Turk identified himself with Europe. This was visible in big cities and in coastal resorts. The rural Turkey was a completely different scene. The people wore traditional dress, women covered the head and all identified themselves with Turkey collectively. Whereas in restaurants in urban areas young people talked about the West in fond terms, the rural stock most liked to talk about past that had been and had nostalgic memories. There was one thing common in urban and rural Turks. They had the same pride in their being Turks. When a nation has pride in its identity there is always a chance of its reverting to its roots. The rural Turkey seems to have prevailed. The reversion has taken a long. The secular ideology certainly was protected and propagated by two strong factions of the society - the army and the judiciary. These organs of the state had traditionally held a place of respect and authority in the Ottoman Turkey. But when these organs launched the secular forces, a defeated and demoralised Turkey saw no other option. Its vast territories had been wrested from its rule and it could find no support from its subjects. The decision to go secular was perhaps right at that time but the memories of past glory kept the national pride intact. Despite the continuous efforts to become secular this pride kept the link with the past intact; it needed a jolt to the national conscience to revive the link in a forceful manner. This jolt came in the shape of the Mavi Marmara incident. Turkey, who always identified itself with the West, found itself isolated in the face of the Israeli attack on its ship in the peace flotilla for the support of Gaza. This may be the apparent cause; there is long history behind this awakening. After World War II, the world was divided between capitalist and communist camps, one led by America and the other by the USSR. Each camp vied for influence in rest of the world. Turkey in this scenario of rivalry gained political importance, as it occupied a strategically significant place on the map. It could act as a barrier to the spread of communist ideology in the Middle East and could also become an effective military ally in the eventuality of a conflict. The doors to the West were opened to Turkey. Hence, this gave a false impression to the Turkish elite that they are acceptable to the West in all politico-social and economical spheres; the desire to become Europeans became important. Turkey has been trying to become a full member of the European Union for the last 50 years. The West is willing to grant Turkey status of a 'privileged partner but 'not full membership. The cause of this denial are two; Turkey may be modern and secular but it is a Muslim country, and they still remember that Turkey ruled over major parts of Europe. There is a lack of trust in Europe about Turkeys sincerity. After the Soviet Union collapsed and Communism died, the strategic importance of Turkey has diminished. The new face of the enemy of the West is Islamic and the target is Islamic ideology. In such an environment, Turkey as full membership of the European Union, seems undesirable. Turkeys refusal to become part of the American assault on Iraq is quoted as an example. After almost 50 years, the young Turkey has realised the causes of refusal. The episode of Mavi Marmara made it clear to the Modern Turkey that the West will never stand by it. The total silence of the West, especially the US, on the incident has made clear where Turkey stands. Though Turkey has a foot on European soil, it is eastern in essence, and that is how it is identified. Had Turkey looked towards the east after the fall of the USSR its political and economic stature would have increased. Turkey has a historical legacy in the east. The Middle East and the areas of North Africa were parts of the Turkish Empire. Turkey understands the social, political and religious parameters of the area. Turkey has the political potential to move in this area. Turkey has understood its place in relation to the West. The recent Turkish vote in the United Nations Security Council against the US-sponsored sanctions against Iran is indicative of this realisation. It has also taken another bold step. Turkey has signed an economic pact with Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to establish a free trade zone. Only AKP, the ruling party of Turkey, could have taken such bold steps. This party with a visible Islamic image and having the support of the masses, is in a position to embark upon such ventures. A traditional secular party could never do so. The establishment of this free trade zone of Muslim states is a bold politico-economic step. Mr Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, should move forward from here. He should expand the membership of this pact to all Muslim states of the region. If possible he should negotiate to expand this economic union to include all Muslim states from Morocco to Pakistan and the Central Asia. Such an Economic Union has the potential to transform into a Muslim Union which sits across the major resource base of the world. Turkey has laid the foundation stone of this union. If it can achieve such a union, it can turn the tables on the European Union. It will not be Turkey requesting to be their member; it will be the EU requesting to become part of the Muslim Union. This is the legacy and destiny of Turkey and it must strive to achieve it. The writer is a freelance columnist.