Communists in Cold War, reactionaries in Feb. 28 coup and Gülenists in Erdoğan era

Date posted: January 14, 2014


My book “Cumhuriyet’i Çok Sevmiştim” (I had loved the republic very much) was recently published and it attracted media attention. The Cumhuriyet newspaper also launched a strong counter campaign.

I remember an article written by the late İlhan Selçuk. He essentially had said, “This is an operation launched by the Gülenists against the republic.”

I didn’t comment on it; I just laughed it off.

Once, there was a witch hunt for communists. To be accused of being a communist during the Cold War era was perceived as the end of the world. It was a way of defaming someone.

Democratic demands would be suppressed using occasionally uncovered “communist conspiracies” and the military tutelage regime would reinforce itself in the process.

Another fashionable way of discrediting someone in the Cold War era was to accuse someone of being a “reactionary” or a “separatist.”

“Turkey will be divided,” someone would say and this would make everyone shiver.

Just like making this assertion, spitting out warnings about the rise of reactionaryism was another technique of inhibiting democratic development and the rule of law in the country.

When there was heated talk about reactionaryism or anti-secularism and newspapers started publishing photos of men with long, black beards, wearing skullcaps and baggy trousers and carrying prayer beads, we concluded that there were preparations for a campaign that would eventually curtail democratic demands.
Defeating democratic demands using the ‘Gülenist‘ bogey

Today, the “communist” label does not scare people anymore.

This is also the case for the “separatist” tag. The state is negotiating with the “head of the separatists.”

But another tag has become fashionable these days: “Gülenist.”

The “reactionary” label which was widely used during the postmodern coup of Feb. 28, 1997 has now been replaced with that of “Gülenist.” (On Jan. 11, 2014, Taha Akyol wrote that former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit had been pressed by the military to pass a decree on the purge of reactionary civil servants in 2000.)

Now, the alleged involvement of Gülenists is being employed in every incident, particularly within the state. There is an ongoing campaign of McCarthyism in the police department that cannot even be compared to things done during the coup eras.

Like the anti-Communist leaders in the Cold War era, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refers to Gülenists as the source of all evil. He accuses them of provoking a coup. He argues that they are a state within the state and have created gangs within the state. He alleges that they are a parallel state.

It is useful to make a point here: Is it not true that some civil servants and officers, including prosecutors, judges, police officers, district governors and governors, are members of the Gülen movement?

Of course it’s true. But is that a crime?

No, it is not. People cannot be blamed for their beliefs, thoughts, identities or colors. They cannot be discriminated against because of such characteristics.

But let us say that if these people mix their beliefs with state affairs, then this is investigated and prosecuted via judicial means.

If a military serviceman complies with the order of the higher-ups in the community rather than his commander, if a police officer acts in line with a recommendation of the community rather than the instructions of his superior or if a prosecutor applies the orders of the movement rather than the law, then they are committing a crime. And they will be held liable for such actions before the law. I have pointed out this fact many times before over the years in my columns.

Is that what is happening right now? No, I do not think so. Similar to how democracy was undermined by allegations of communism during the Cold War years and by allegations of fundamentalism during the Feb. 28 period, democracy and the rule of law are now being undermined by allegations of Gülenism.

‘Why did we fight against profiling for so many years?’

Recently, Nuray Mert at T24 eloquently summarized the matter: “How will the Gülen movement be eliminated?”

“The members of the movement who are working as public servants will be removed from their offices; is that the case now? A person who works in the public sector is held responsible for legal reasons and not because he is a member of a movement. Besides, how would you discern that a person is a member of a community and based on what would you remove him? Based on rumors or profiling information?

“So why did we fight profiling initiatives in the past staged by the secularist state approach in the name of combating fundamentalism relying on brutal methods where most fundamental freedoms were ignored?

“Of course, I have nothing to say to those who did not. Frankly, I did and I believe that I did the right thing. In a democracy, a person is free to become a member of a religious or social group. You cannot blame him for doing so. In addition, is the Gülen movement the only religious group in Turkey that is involved in politics? Was it like this before and is it the case right now?

“Will you eliminate other groups as well and, if so, on what grounds?

“We can take legal action against the prosecutors who are also members of the Gülen movement if they did not observe legal processes but not because they are members of this group. This is the civilized and democratic approach; any other option falls into the logic of fighting fundamentalism.

“As such, is there anything as grave as people who call themselves intellectuals, let alone the speakers of the ruling party, viewing this as a plausible solution in such absurdity?

“There is a lot to say; but I will not push the limits of my patience.” I fully agree with what Nuray Mert said in the column.

*This article appeared in Turkish on the T24 website on Jan. 12, 2014.

Source: Todays Zaman , January 14, 2014

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