Media file: Istanbul_Citronate.jpg
Image by citronate. Flickr. Istanbul, 2009.

In less than a decade, Turkey's leaders have remade their nation's identity, casting aside an inner view that had persisted since modern Turkey's birth in 1923. Looking at the country from the outside, it appears the model of a modern Muslim democracy. But within the country, Turks wrangle over their legacy and future, over freedom of the press, gender rights, and a worsening border crisis that is testing their resolve and humanity.

That is the cauldron Turks find themselves in. Journalists complain of a hostile government which puts them in prison or weighs them down with court challenges. Fearful for their future, some say they retreat into silence.

Turks who resent a legacy of autocratic, top-down thinking have rallied together. They challenge taboos as they search for a voice for themselves, and they reach out to similar movements in the Arab world.

Seeking to gain a larger voice in the region's politics, Turkey faces an immediate challenge in dealing with Syria's internal conflict. Thousands of Syrians have fled to refugee camps in Turkey, and the leaders of their exile movement have found a base in Istanbul. The crisis facing these Syrians weighs heavily on Turkish society and its leaders.

The future is here for a new Turkey and the challenges are many.