It appears that Erdogan had never committed himself to a democratic form of government. A quote attributed to him in 1999 describes precisely what his real intentions were from the day he rose to power. “Democracy” he said, “is like a bus, when you arrive at your destination, you step off.”
Tayyip Erdogan, has gall. He has jailed tens of thousands of people, shuttered more than 150 media companies and called a referendum in April to enlarge his powers. Yet when local authorities in Germany, for security reasons, barred two Turkish ministers from campaigning among Turks living in Germany, Mr. Erdogan exploded, accusing Germany of Nazi practices and knowing nothing about democracy.
On March 4, 2016, exactly one year ago today , hundreds of riot police officers fired rubber bullets and gassed loyal readers of Turkey’s best-selling daily when they stood vigil on the sidewalk across the newspaper’s offices to peacefully protest the news of impending the unlawful takeover of Zaman newspaper.
Zeynalov reminded the attendees that Erdogan also was arrested a couple of decades ago. That eventually helped him to become famous and won him the elections five years later. But it didn’t stop Erdogan to use the same law for justifying the arrest of Zeynalov in 2014.
Prof. Hayrettin Karaman, Erdogan’s close friend and religious counsel, and AKP’s main Islamist theologian, has issued a fatwa that legitimizes certain crimes during a civil war. He said, “soldiers who commit ordinary crimes during a wartime shall not be punished.”
To consolidate his reign, Turkey’s president Mr. Erdogan intimidated his political opponents, emasculated the military, silenced the press, and enfeebled the judiciary; most recently, he pressed the parliament to amend the constitution to grant him essentially absolute powers.
Turkish president’s chief religious counsel Hayrettin Karaman, professor of Islamic law, has given approval to overlook torture and other crimes committed by members of security services, saying that Turkey is at total mobilization and under attack from within and outside.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in Ankara on Thursday that the state of emergency which was declared following a failed coup attempt in July of last year will continue until the faith-based Gülen movement, which the government accuses of being behind the coup attempt, is completely wiped out from state institutions.
During the past few months I interviewed scores of Turkish citizens who escaped from Turkey following the unsuccessful military coup, fearing for their lives. Many of them left their families behind. Although it has the potential of becoming a major player on the global stage, Turkey’s brilliant prospects are being squandered because of President Erdogan’s insatiable lust for power.
The proposed constitutional change grants the presidency new powers to directly appoint a vast range of public officials – cabinet ministers, provincial governors, and judges to the highest courts in the land. Simply put, the government’s plans are an enabling act: they are designed to strengthen the individual over the collective.
The AKP government, under emergency rule, has taken over hundreds companies, seized the assets of businessmen and shut down institutions linked to the movement. Despite the fact that Gülen denied the accusation and called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, President Erdoğan – calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” – and the Turkish government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement.
However, Erdogan has a problem: Whereas Ataturk came to power as a military general, Erdogan has a democratic mandate to govern. Ataturk’s Turkey was rural and only 10 percent of the country was literate at the time, with most educated people supporting his agenda. Erdogan’s Turkey is 80 percent urban and nearly 100 percent literate, and many well-educated Turks oppose his agenda.