Friday, March 30, 2007

In the Name of God

The things that are done in the name of God:
One morning last spring, a young lawyer parked his Opel car on a busy commercial street next to Turkey's top administrative court, threw a Glock handgun into his bag and went inside.

Reaching the fifth floor of the drab courthouse, Alparslan Arslan followed a tea server toward a chamber where five judges were meeting. The 28-year-old Mr. Arslan paused to look at their faces.

A few months earlier, these judges had ruled that a kindergarten teacher was rightfully denied a promotion because she wore a Muslim headscarf near the school. A covered instructor set a bad example for impressionable young students in a secular state and undermined the foundations of the Turkish Republic, the verdict said. The ruling upset many religiously conservative Turks. But it pushed Mr. Arslan over the edge.

Pulling the gun from his bag once inside the chamber, he pronounced the words "Allahu Akbar" -- God is greater -- and fired four times. The shots killed one judge and wounded three others. Then Mr. Arslan blasted another round into the air and issued a warning that "verdicts should be determined more carefully from now on," according to his later testimony. Fleeing the courthouse, the lawyer was caught and arrested.

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