Turkey in 2014: Not too bright [Witch-hunt against Gulen Movement expected]

Mustafa Akyol
Mustafa Akyol


Date posted: December 31, 2013

Mustafa Akyol

I hope you had a nice entry to this new Gregorian year of ours and now look at the future with some optimism for the dozen months ahead. As a Turkey analyst, however, I can offer only a modest optimism and only if I try really, really hard.

The main reason is the bitter polarization that Turkey inherits from the past year. A part of this comes from Turkey’s long-time fault line: secularists versus religious conservatives. The Gezi Park protests of last summer, at least in part, were a manifestation of how explosive this tension is. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s growingly conservative rhetoric, such as his attempt to intervene in private homes to disallow “girls and boys” from living together, constantly kept the culture war alive.

But there is even more toxic polarization now, the one within religious conservatives, namely the supporters of Prime Minister Erdoğan and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. The tension between these former allies grew out of the Gülen Movement’s presence in the police and judiciary, real or perceived, and recently turned into a war of words and a legal battle. The movement supports the corruption investigation that targets some cabinet members, whereas the government depicts the same investigation as a veiled “coup attempt” cooked up by “foreign powers.” The same official narrative openly condemns the Gülen Movement as the fifth column of those “foreign powers,” which are, typically, the CIA, neo-cons, the Israeli lobby, and Israel.

This conspiratorial mind is poisonous enough for the political atmosphere, but there are worrying signs that the worst is yet to come. On Monday, Abdurrahman Dilipak, a famous columnist for Yeni Akit, a hardcore Islamist daily, wrote that the government might soon initiate an extensive purge against the Gülen Movement. “Do not be surprised,” he said, “if all actors in this scenario, such as policemen, prosecutors, judges, businessmen, journalists are put on trial.”

As I have written before, if there are bureaucrats who misuse their authority to serve the interest of the Gülen Movement, or any other entity, the government certainly has the right to fire them and bring them to justice. However, what Dilipak describes is a much larger scale witch-hunt, which can only violate many civil liberties and raise the tension in society to new heights.

Based on such ill omens, I predict that 2014 might be a very tense year. The government’s claim to fight a “new war of independence” against imaginary enemies that conspire against Turkey only signals more authoritarianism and less freedom.

The two subsequent elections of this year might possibly further raise this tension, but perhaps diffuse them as well, based on the results. The local elections of March 30 are crucial, for it will be the first test of Erdoğan’s popularity after Gezi and the confrontation with the Gülen Movement. If the governing party loses a considerable amount of votes, then Erdoğan might rethink running for presidency in the presidential elections of June, which will be a first in republican history. If the government rather gets a boost in the ballots, more intoxication with power might follow.

The sad truth is that Turkey, which was shown until a few years as a “model” of liberal democracy in a Muslim-majority country, looks anything but liberal now. It apparently will go through some serious headaches before deserving to be counted as a mature democracy.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News , January 1, 2014


Related News

Multilingual singer Julie Slim breathes life into songs

“Music is transformational; it can transform you. It is a way of expression, it connects people, it can be a teaching and therapy tool, it makes people feel things they had not felt before,” Slim told Sunday’s Zaman in an exclusive interview ahead of her performance at Fatih University Conservatory’s Turkish music department.

TUSKON warns against probing policemen under ‘shadow of politics’

The Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) said in a statement on Tuesday that the group is closely following the developments after the July 22 raid with “concern” and said it is disturbed of a possibility that the legal proceeding will continue with a number of illegal actions under the “shadow of politics.”

Russian analyst: Turkey’s claim Gülen was behind envoy’s killing insult to ‘our intelligence’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s claim that US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen was behind the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Monday is an insult to Russian intelligence, a prominent Russian analyst said.

Erdoğan’s way: scare, divide and rule

The last straw [man] by Erdoğan came this week when a draft version of a law seeking the closure of all kinds of privately established prep schools (dershanes) leaked to the media. The bill is so drastic that even private tutoring for kids at homes by parents is banned. The intrusive move is seen as a huge blow to free enterprise and the right to education, prompting concerns that the closure of these schools will block upward mobility in Turkish society.

Government allegedly plots to blame Bingöl attacks on Hizmet movement

Twitter user @fuatavni has claimed the government has launched a plan to blame an attack in which two police officers were killed on Oct. 9 in Bingöl on the Hizmet movement, which is inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Academic Freedom in Turkey Under Seige

It appears that Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based Islamic preacher from Turkey who promotes peace and tolerance, and the schools associated with his religious Hizmet movement can’t get a break. Now, Gülen’s schools are being targeted in his home country by the Turkish government’s ruling Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP, which should dispel any notion in the U.S. that the AKP is somehow in cahoots with the Gülen movement.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Kimse Yok Mu to share perspectives at Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

Russian Diplomat Assassin’s Sister Says Police School, Not Gulen, Radicalized Him

‘Nigerians and their leaders won’t fall for Erdogan’s harebrained gambit’

Der Spiegel: Turkish embassies pursuing Erdoğan critics in 35 countries

Deputy PM of Turkey visits Gulen-inspired school in Yemen

Fil-Turkish gives out beef amid terror threats

Prep school students dominate LYS university entrance exam

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News