While the international community praised Sunday's approval of constitutional reforms in a referendum in Turkey, some of the country's citizens have expressed genuine concern over the possibility that the changes will weaken the army – which safeguards secularism.
"This development worries the Jews here," said Tal, a resident of Antalya who voted against the reform, which is aimed at "bolstering democracy."
"All my friends cast their votes before breakfast. They all fear Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to turn us into Iran," Tal told Ynet Sunday night. "If Turkey continues to become more and more Islamic – this is worrying. We are used to roam around freely, and suddenly it's becoming like Iran here. I hope Erdogan is removed from government."
Turks celebrate referendum results (Photo: Reuters)
The EU’s executive European Commission, which had criticized the government for stifling public debate, welcomed the results.
"As we consistently said in the past months, these reforms are a step in the right direction as they address a number of long-standing priorities in Turkey’s efforts towards fully complying with the accession criteria," Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fuele said in a statement.
US President Barack Obama phoned Erdogan during the finals of the World Basketball Championship between Turkey and the US in Istanbul and lauded what he called Turkey's thriving democracy.
Jacky Angel, a Jewish resident of Istanbul, also voted against the reform package. "The Erdogan government will not be satisfied with this and will try to advance Islam in any way possible," he said.
"Defeating the army is the key to allow him (Erdogan) to do whatever he wants, including promoting some controversial Islamic laws."
Faruk Logoglu, former Turkish ambassador to Washington, said the referendum results will lead to "more tension" in the country, but Nigar Haizadri, an activist who helped promote the reform proposal ahead of the referendum, said, "The reforms will lead to unity.
"The changes will benefit women and children, as well as the courts," she added.
Sumnur Verder, a 43-year-old Istanbul resident, criticized the proposed changes for "not mentioning the rights of the Kurds and minorities, or human rights and freedom of worship.
"I don’t believe the changes to the constitution are democratic," she said.
Boaz Fyler and Reuters contributed to the report
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