Should Turkey become a secular dictatorship again

Political change in Turkey : How the democrat Erdoğan became a dictator

If journalism means asking questions for professional reasons, let's put question marks together with Erdoğan's triumph after the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24th. At first sight it seems to be just an event of Turkish domestic politics, but it concerns the whole world. On Monday he was sworn in as president with a far-reaching increase in power, before more than 18,000 civil servants had been dismissed by decree.

Let us first ask: How did the “political Islamists” of Anatolia, the most populous part of the modern secular republic, come about? Once they were treated as their stepchildren, today, guided by the hope of a new social order, they have developed into a fascist group.

What happened to Erdoğan, who promised to work day and night for a pluralistic, civil democracy and to show solidarity with all social classes after he came to power? Where is Erdoğan, who organized many events with Alevi communities, who kept saying that Sunni oppression of Alevi culture must be abolished?

And why did a statesman who once sat at the negotiating table with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and founded a Kurdish television station, ordered a massacre of the Kurds in the Syrian Eastern Ghouta in February of this year? How did he become an authoritarian ruler who locked Selahattin Demirtae, the co-chair of the left-wing pro-Kurdish HDP and many other MPs from that party in jail? What do we owe to his transformation into a tyrant who wiped out ten Kurdish cities on Google Earth, murdered thousands of people and exiled hundreds of thousands?

How did he become a despot?

When did Erdoğan turn into a fundamentalist? Does he support IS now? How did he become a despot when he was an important and modern player in view of the last 150 years of Turkish history? He has called for the country's frozen EU accession process to be resumed.

The paths of Erdoğan and those of the western countries began to lead in different directions when the civil war in Syria broke out. It was the time when the AKP MPs still said: “In no more than three months we will go to Assad and pray together in the Damascus mosque.” Damascus is not as close as it was once said for a long time.

Because Erdoğan combined the prestige he had in the Islamic world with his ego enlarged in front of this mirror, he could not digest the rejection from the West. He then decided to become a playmaker in the great geopolitical field himself. In order to overthrow Assad, he sought proximity to the Syrian opposition. Those were turbulent times: the representatives of the “Free Syrian Arms” could only be found in Istanbul with police protection. At the same time, jihadist groups received truckloads of weapons from the inventory of the Turkish army.

It didn't take long for that to come out. Ironically, the members of the Gülen movement, whom he himself once placed in their positions in the state apparatus, betrayed him. At the same time, the Kurds gradually became the main opponents of the terrorist groups that had united in the region under the umbrella of IS.

Oppositionists are marked as traitors and terrorists

Erdoğan was faced with a crucial question: In the fight against Assad, do I from now on stick to the Kurds or the Islamists? He chose the latter option. For a long time, the presence of IS at the Turkish borders had hardly bothered him. But when the Kurds won the fight against IS in the Kobanê region, Erdoğan's patience was over. He named the dangerous game that he was now playing openly: "The great Ottoman returns."

So: end the Kurdish problem - now there are only terrorists! Put an end to the sensitivities of the laicists - they are putschists! No more connection to the west - now there is only hatred against the mentality of the crusaders! Put an end to the Alevi problem - now we are fighting for the common cause of Islam! No more the litany of the free press - now all journalists are spies!

Finally in Turkey we have a single state, a single flag, a single language, a single ideology and a single leader. Anyone who speaks against it is a traitor to the fatherland and a collaborator of the West.

Today he is one of the richest leaders in the world

Erdoğan is not only a playmaker, but also a criminal who fears a conviction. During his time as Lord Mayor of Istanbul, Erdoğan once held his gold wedding ring in front of the camera and said in a general sense: This is my entire fortune. If one day you see more than one wedding ring, you will know that it is harem (sin). Today he is one of the richest leaders in the world. And while the members of his family and those around him become financially strong and corrupt business people who turn the whole country into a huge construction site and plunder every surface in the public space, Erdoğan has built his own golden palace.

Even when the recording of a telephone conversation surfaced between Erdoğan and his son Bilal, in which he asked him to hide the money that was still in the house, some of his supporters defended him by saying that the money was “for a good cause of Islam ”.

A great illusionist like Erdoğan has now become inviolable in the perception of his followers and in the face of Turkish law. Like all authoritarian leaders, he used a nationalism veiled by Islamism to comfort the masses. Today in our country the government that supplies arms to war zones is a hero, but the journalists who want to cover them are traitors. While this takes place on the open stage, bundles of money are distributed behind it.

Should we discuss the distribution of MPs in parliament after the 2018 election and the hopes of the Kemalist opposition members in the new parliamentary term? Let's not get around the bush: no. So far I have tried to explain that Erdoğan is a dictator who also stole the last election. If the social resistance were stronger, he would send his paramilitary forces onto the streets.

As long as he has worldwide legitimacy as a politician, he will continue to be our nightmare. I don't think it makes sense to write a proper election analysis as my country's court has ruled that I am a terrorist and should stay in jail in Turkey for the rest of my life.

Hayko Bağdat, rescued in Istanbul in 1976, is a Turkish-Armenian journalist, author and cabaret artist who fled to Berlin after the attempted coup in Turkey in 2016. He is one of the fellows of the Senate program “Weltoffenes Berlin”. His play “Die Schnecke” was shown in May 2017 at the Maxim Gorki Theater.

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