So far, al-Qaeda has successfully inflamed the dreaded "clash of civilizations." When its terrorists struck America in 2001, they seemed to confirm the Western world's worst fears about Islam.
Now the terrorists strike at Turkey. Why would Islamists kill Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan? As punishment, because Turkey sided with the US-led invasion of Iraq? But Turkey neither let foreign troops be stationed on its territory, nor did it send its troops into the war.
Perhaps al-Qaeda's motive in targeting Turkey is to derail a Muslim nation from its progress toward joining the European Union? Not surprisingly, after the attacks Western leaders reaffirmed the urgency of bringing Turkey into the European fold.
But these questions miss a fundamental truth about Turkey. Much comment on Turkish society pays lip service to Turkey's unique place as a "bridge" between Islam and secularism, and between East and West. The problem with being the bridge, though, is that neither side--neither the "West" nor the "Muslim world"--considers Turkey fully one of its own.