A little fairness, please!


Date posted: December 9, 2013


Please, take a deep breath and take a trip back to a short time ago. What do you remember of the “Justice and Development Party (AK Party)-Gülen movement disagreement”?

Here’s a brief reminder, for a better understanding of the discussion: Fethullah Gülen was taken to the hospital in an ambulance because of an emergency. Because I visited him that day, I wrote as follows: “One of the persons who made [the] first phone call was Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He elegantly delivered his get well soon message. With similar elegance, Gülen also complimented the prime minister, telling him it was nice of him to make this gesture. And it was time for praying. Both asked for one another’s prayer and they also prayed for each other. It was a moving scene that was worth hearing and experiencing. If you could have watched the scene from a distance, I am sure you would say that everyone should stop arguing so that the fire that has been created can be extinguished. This was how the communication was then, sincere and frank.

Shortly after this incident, Gülen published a two-page ad extending his thanks to the statesmen, politicians, businessmen and members of media groups who extended their get-well-soon messages. Undoubtedly, the prime minister was the one who attracted the greatest attention in that ad. Things were so bright and straight back then. So what has happened to turn everything upside down?

A draft law seeking to shut down prep schools was revealed. God is witness to the fact that we have wanted this draft amended. Somebody said last month that the reports were not true. I wish they hadn’t been, so that the instigating fire would not have spread. As the authorities who argued that the draft didn’t exist spoke, it became apparent that the situation was even graver. It became evident that even the authorized organs within the government were unaware of some parts of this initiative, that the opinion of the stakeholders in the sector was not received and that the preparation efforts for the draft law were not reconcilable with the principles of democracy and of a state governed by the rule of law.

We have created an opposition to the closing down of the prep schools through the force of law, and we are still opposed to it. The reason for our opposition is clear: As plainly noted by the government speaker, closing down prep schools is against the Constitution and it is unacceptable in terms of the principle of entrepreneurial freedom. He is totally right. And we have to go even beyond that: It is not possible in a democratic state governed by rule of law to shut down private enterprises by legal force and to transform them into private schools or study centers. Truth and reality do not change when you change the terms. If you raise the standards of education, there will be no need for extra courses to prepare for central placement exams. And then, in the end, people will no longer send their children to prep schools because there will be no need for them. As a result, these enterprises will disappear naturally. But you cannot shut them down by force and you cannot transform them into something else.

It is so sad that those who fail to offer convincing arguments and evidence in the prep school debate are attempting to downplay the struggle to pursue rights by diverting the attention of the public elsewhere. However, we have approached this matter as a demand for democratic rights. And we are still in this position. It is necessary to remind those who fail to understand this attitude and who are moving the subject in different directions in an attempt to raise a cause of their own personal interests of a few points:

Do not spend time on tireless efforts! There is no political struggle going on here because the structure and movement you have been trying to denigrate every day is not a political movement. References to the power struggle divert the issue and bring people to a place of great dissatisfaction.

Here is an attitude that has been forwarded to the high levels of the state administration: “You are governing this country; we all pray for you just as we have prayed for all the other previous governments. If anybody asks for privileges from you on behalf of us, you should know that it has nothing to do with us or they are not one of us. But if some unfairness is done to the Hizmet movement, you should know that our hearts will be broken, but we will keep praying for you.” This position has not been changed; the political administration is given proper respect and no position or power is being pursued.

However, even at times when relations were good, some tried to destroy these relations, spread rumors about people and raised some unfounded arguments by relying on untrue stories and reports. Those people, who have until recent times viewed the state as the main source of all evils, demonized it because of their ideological discourse and underlined that it would be destroyed someday. Now they are sanctifying the state. And as such, that vicious rumor about those groups and entities other than the state serves its purpose, takes reign and, as a result, all social stakeholders except the state are viewed as potential dangers. However, civilian elements, including civil society organizations, the business world and the media, are inalienable parts of democracy; they are not threats to the established order.

As the ambition of the government is being fueled, Turkey is moving away from being a culture of governance and all communities and groups are considered to be parallel structures to it. Some people who base their actions on this perspective and approach will define another group as the enemy, even if they finish off the Hizmet movement now. Even the current state of affairs is extremely grave. It is hard to argue that a power system that attempts to make social groups enemies of each other, sets up special teams to denigrate and alienate a specific group, devises strategies to cause disagreement and disputes and seeks to create a new social group by reliance on state power is involved in sustainable activities. Neither Allah nor the people would endorse such activities because they are not humane or Islamic.

Once again, we would like to invite those who hold some shred of fairness to take a look and see the facts and realities. Someday, maybe very soon, when this mess disappears and this environment of disagreements is replaced, we will have to speak to each other again. Nobody would disappear in this country just to make someone happy. And another Karbala will not take place and all Muslims won’t be annihilated in this country just because someone asks this to be done. Some fairness is needed. Those who transgress over the boundaries will be held accountable by history. Forcing the limits further will nourish the row, a great responsibility and liability.

The reports, the profiling activities and the concerns

While debates on the closure of the prep schools continued, the Taraf Daily published a controversial National Security Council (MGK) document indicating that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) signed onto a planned crackdown on the Hizmet (Gülen) movement in 2004. We at Zaman were upset by this development, because the publication of this document overshadowed our opposition to the closure of the prep schools, which is being conducted in a correct manner. Moreover, we also made the following statement: “We wish that document had never been inked; though spoken words fly away, written words remain. Despite this, we are aware of the severe conditions of those years. Thus it would be wrong to attribute a special meaning to this document and pit people against each other.”

However, the government’s insistence on closing the prep school has fostered doubts as to whether the 2004 MGK decision is being implemented as we speak. Moreover, Mr. Fethullah Gülen expressed these concerns, saying, “I find it hard to assume that they were acting in good faith.

Unfortunately, it has also come to light that the AK Party government profiled a large number of individuals through 2013 at the request of the National Security Council (MGK). This is a new situation that needs to be clarified. I personally prayed that the authorities would make a statement that would lift this burden off of the hearts of the masses. Moreover, when an official told me over the phone that they would make a statement, I told my colleague, “They will make a statement, let’s not imagine the worst-case scenario, that way this mischief and treachery can be eliminated.” Unfortunately, that statement has not been made yet. Meanwhile, AK Party Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik’s statement, which exhibited a principled stance, was very positive, although he has failed to explain many technical details. In spite of this fact, even we covered his statement on the front page of the paper as the secondary headline because we believe that it is very important to see that a representative of our government deemed the profiling activities unacceptable.

Then the atmosphere changed, and heavy accusations have been made against the Taraf daily and journalist Mehmet Baransu, who revealed the controversial MGK document. Three public institutions have filed suit, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on prosecutors to take legal action against the Taraf daily and Baransu, and accused the latter of treason. But this is not the first time the journalist in question has published a confidential document. It is thought-provoking and upsetting that some of our colleagues who hadn’t written even a single line of criticism started to accuse the paper of treachery when the Taraf daily published documents about the illegal activities of the military guardianship regime.

Down with all kinds of guardianship! Both military guardianship over the state and the guardianship regime formed by the ruling party undermine democracy. So, how can we know what guardianship is not?

It’s pretty clear, actually: Respecting the laws and opposing all kinds of guardianship.

Not only the political parties but also the media and the government are crucially important for participatory and transparent democracy.

Once again, our democracy is going through a difficult time. We can only overcome this ordeal with patience, steadfastness and laws. Some dark circles are making extraordinary efforts to shift the blame for their wrongdoings onto others. For example, a senior reporter covering police and judicial stories told me that he was once given a CD that contained immoral video recordings, and that he destroyed it. Instead of destroying it, which could be considered obscuring evidence, he should have called on prosecutors to take legal action against those who illegally recorded those images and committed this shadowy act; in that way, those responsible would have been held accountable for their actions. It seems that there is a very serious trap.

Some people intend to round up the usual suspects and conduct social engineering operations.

We have to adopt a principled approach to every issue: Those dishonorable people who use scandalous video recordings as a pretext to attack other people and disclosed people’s personal information should be identified and punished for what they did. It is great mistake that those who set a trap for former Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputies and posted their scandalous videos on Internet have not been uncovered. Those who undermine the reputation and dignity of other people for the sake of their own interests and put the blame of their illegal activities on other groups that have nothing do with it will continue to commit crimes as long they are not punished.

It seems that as the municipal elections slated for March 2014 near, as happens every election period, the atmosphere is becoming more poisonous. Turkey is now feeling a stronger need for participatory, transparent and accountable democracy. And the solution requires fully adopting participatory democracy instead of ignoring this need and fighting with people.

Source: Today's Zaman , December 9, 2013

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