You cannot fool all the people all the time

Şahin Alpay
Şahin Alpay


Date posted: January 20, 2014

ŞAHİN ALPAY

I did not vote for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in any of the general elections. I refused to call it the “AK” (clean) Party, believing that the acronym just stated an ideal which had to be lived up to. But, as evident in my columns, I was generally supportive of the AKP government in its first two terms in power despite critical stances over several issues. Roughly since the referendum for constitutional amendments in September 2010, however, I have been growing critical of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government, which has increasingly assumed an arbitrary and authoritarian style of governance, and is polarizing society, thus leading the country into a severe political crisis.

When the people displayed their dissatisfaction with the prime minister’s leadership through the mass protests of Gezi Park last summer, Erdoğan blamed the demonstrations on a conspiracy of foreign forces seeking to undermine Turkey and ordered the brutal suppression of the protests. When a corruption probe last month implicated four ministers and many bureaucrats and businessmen close to the government, he began taking frenzied measures to suppress the probe, claiming it to be a “coup” attempt against his government designed by Western allies and Israel and put into action by the faith-based social movement (Hizmet) inspired by religious scholar Fethullah Gülen. In doing so he is threatening to undo all the achievements of his government during its first two terms in power.

Claiming the corruption probe to be a “smear campaign” and a “plot” against it conspired by the “Fethullahist parallel state,” his government has relocated dozens of prosecutors and hundreds of police chiefs and officers in a campaign which is increasingly assuming the character of a witch hunt. It is reversing reform laws and constitutional amendments adopted in the context of the European Union accession process. Using its leverage over media barons dependent on favors, the Erdoğan government has started a disinformation campaign in the media to direct public opinion and attention away from the corruption probe.

Thanks to the support provided for the campaign by secular fundamentalists and Islamists chanting “Crush the Fethullahists!”, nearly all who have been convicted of various crimes are asking for retrial and acquittal, claiming to be victims of conspiracies by the “parallel state.” The Erdoğan government appears to have fallen prey to a paranoia attack due to the conspiracy theory it is trying to deceive also itself with. This is how Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu described the condition his government is in: “We are in such a condition that we do not know who to trust. We are looking left and right with suspicion.”

In a panic to save its future, the Erdoğan government calling it a “parallel state,” an “illegal organization,” a “criminal gang,” a “web of treason” and “raving Hashashins” is attempting to collectively punish the Hizmet movement, whose establishments have significantly contributed to the betterment of the country in the fields of education, business, democratization, social solidarity and international relations. In that context, his government is targeting not only Hizmet’s educational and business establishments at home but also those that spread to more than 120 countries.

As someone who has visited the schools it operates in many countries stretching from Turkmenistan to Brazil and from Sweden to South Africa, I am of the opinion that Hizmet, in continuous interaction not only with its home country but also the world, has evolved into an educational movement in service of mutual understanding between peoples and world peace. I, therefore, find it especially shocking that in a recent meeting with Turkey’s ambassadors Erdoğan instructed them to “decipher the criminal organization” and explain to the world that the corruption probe is a fraud.

I trust that neither the sober-minded ambassadors nor the governments to which they respond will give heed to the fable Erdoğan is trying to spread. His behavior calls to mind Abraham Lincoln’s dictum which says, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Source: Todays Zaman , January 19, 2014


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