The Turkey that was founded with a vision of becoming a part of Europe after World War I by Kemal Ataturk after the demise of the Ottoman Empire had then unwittingly conceded the contest in Europe between Islam since the rise of the Caliphate during the quiet European Middle Ages to the siren song of 19th century modern European secularism. That secularism had not ended Christianity in Europe. After all, Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern Empire toward the end of Rome. The Holy Roman Empire had come to an end only in the 19th century.
The Turkish Muslims would never become a part of the Christian Europe, from the Catholic Italy and France to the Protestant Germany, forever treated as the vanquished underclasses after the European Renaissance in the 14th century. It is this Turkey that is standing in line to become a part of European Union and perhaps it is not such a good idea.
The Muslims of the world need their Renaissance. And Turkey can lead that change, ironically thanks to Ataturk but also the legacy of the Ottoman Empire itself. This does not, however, vindicate the self-deprecating secular tendentiousness among Turkish Muslims to fit into the white and Christian Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) West since the end of World War II in general. And this is the present tension in Turkish politics between the century old secularists who had founded modern Turkey and the Islamic conservatives who do not want to see Islam being compromised to enter Europe, and the Islamists have a point.
Turkey is perhaps best placed among countries with majority Muslim populations (the other being Indonesia) to govern by separating church from state but by aligning itself geopolitically with other Muslim countries and not with Europe.
Muslim democracies, similar to post-World War II European democracies, could even declare Islam as a state religion, a compromise which is feasible in Turkey and across the Islamic world, and still govern through the will of the people if they choose not to separate church from state. After all, what is good for the de jure Christian United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France can be good for all Muslim countries from Turkey through Egypt to Malaysia and Indonesia.
In this vein, it is not very difficult to imagine even Saudi Arabia as a Wahabbi constitutional monarchy of the House of Saud in the future similar to the Anglican British constitutional monarchy of today of the House of Windsor which had evolved to this stage over nearly 800 years since the Magna Carta. The Islamic countries may not take as long for their Renaissance and it would be good for the world.
For a world which is on the cusp of disintegrating either into fractious ethnic and religious zealotry or entering a phase of enlightenment liberalism, its future is a matter of normative choices.