Turkey is a democratic country. Over the past almost 90 years we could not manage to define what we understand from “secularism,” but Turkey is a country with an overwhelming Muslim population and “secular” and “democratic” governance. Turkey is the only island of “secular democracy” in the Muslim world.
With “secularism” the Turkish state, at least so far, understands controlling the practice of Islam through a state agency. That Religious Affairs Directorate or “Diyanet,” has a budget and organization bigger than six combined ministries. After all the great openings of the current Islamist government Diyanet “improved a lot,” it is reported that it will soon be elevated considerably in the state protocol as well, and has become the fundamental tool in persuading the people of this land to convert to Sunni-Hanefi, a certain sect of Sunni Islam. While Sunni-Hanefi believers are given a “more equal” status than the rest of Muslim folk, particularly of the Alevis, the minute non-Muslim sections of the society expect “equal treatment” from the state, believing that “secularism requires the state to remain at equal distance from all religions.”
For the “democracy” assumption, there are of course some who still believe in the “rule by people for the people” principle. However, they are in minority. The current prime minister, for example, believed for some time, nowadays he claimed to have changed that perception, that democracy is a wagon to be traveled on and left behind on reaching the final destination [Islamic governance]. Some other politicians considered it a tool to come to power, fill the coffers of her/his political clan at all costs to the state and resign to Bosporus mansions. Some believed it was not just a word but a web of norms, values and of course rights. In the 1970s and 1980s they were imprisoned and they long have abandoned those goals and have become rich businesspeople. There are some idealists, or lunatics perhaps, who still hope that this country will eventually become a democracy.
Democracy, of course, cannot be achieved in the absence of either the principle of equality or the supremacy of law. It appears as a farce indeed to talk about a democratic country that might be a model for its neighborhood if in that there are “more equals” than others or where a prime minister can boast of having “my justice” or “my judges, my prosecutors” like “my policemen, my teachers, my civil servants” or whatsoever and a prison was converted into a gigantic concentration camp to isolate the “not so welcome critics,” potential adversaries, patriots, Kemalists and of course the retired soldiers (those active officers arrested are at a military prison) in small cells.
Turkey is a sovereign country. At least, many people, including the writer of this article, assume it as such. Yet, this sovereign country is now at a jaw-jaw stage, thank God not at a war-war affair, with a small country of the region over its arrogance, spoiled behavior and indeed barbarism over members of another nation that it has been occupying its land. The tall, bold and bald ever-angry prime minister aspiring to be an absolute ruler in this model “democracy” for the Muslim nations, has been very angry with that small neighbor. He has been rightly demanding it apologize and agree to pay compensation for an act of piracy and murder of nine Turkish citizens in international waters on the Mediterranean. Yet, when the Americans wanted to deploy a radar system – that the angry tall man originally opposed – to fend of possible Iranian missiles aimed at that small arrogant state, this country has become the host of the system protecting that arrogant neighbor. Well, this might be “real politik” but it stinks.
Thursday, October 6, 2011