I like a dictator when he fights terrorists
In a few months’ time, a year will have been passed since Turkey’s failed military coup attempt.
Yet to this day, Turks seem to have failed to convince people elsewhere that followers of
U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen were behind the coup.
In Western circles, we still come across many who ask who the Gülenists are and look with skeptical eyes when we explain how they formed a state within a state. Unfortunately, the sceptics are not limited to regular folks, but also include members of parliament and journalists.
Isn’t it strange that even the fiercest opposition voices in Turkey cannot convince them? Western sceptics look with the same unconvinced eyes even when they encounter the staunchest critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) telling them that Gülenists were behind the coup.
Perhaps they simply do not want to be convinced. It suits some opinion-makers to portray the coup as something staged by President Erdoğan to strengthen his iron rule.
There seems to be an obsession with Erdoğan. Perheps the Europeans think that he perfectly fits the profile of the “bad man” you can blame everything on. The fact that thousands have been jailed in Turkey and journalists are among those behind bars is not something the public cares so much about. What is critical here is that Western circles stamp him out as a “dictator” in the “Islamic front.”
How else could we explain the recognition accorded to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el–Sisi, who is a brutal military dictator. Sisi was recently given a very warm reception in Washington, and it is a known fact that U.S. President Donald Trump will have no problem working with dictators so long they pose as “leaders fighting radical Islamist terrorists.”
Even the European publics who have come to hate Erdoğan do not feel at all the same for Sisi, who has imprisoned tens of thousands of dissidents since taking power.
Reading the latest Human Rights Watch report on Egypt, you can see that the human rights abuses in Egypt are far worse than they are in Turkey.
Some argue that it would be wrong to compare Egypt and Turkey. After all, Turkey is still considered by some to be part of the “Western democratic alliance.”
It would indeed be very wrong to compare Turkey and Egypt, but it is doubtful whether public opinion in the West is making such a sophisticated differentiation between the two based on such criteria.
While Sisi is a military dictator who violently cracks down on all forms of dissent, he poses as a leader fighting radical Islamists. Erdoğan, on the other hand, fits the role that Europeans want him to play: That of a scapegoat to blame for terrorism and migrants, two fears that politicians are using to consolidate their voting bases.
They are happy with the perception of Erdoğan as an “Islamist leader,” standing against European civilization, standing in front of the so called “secular Kurds” who want to fight against fundamentalists, and threatening to send thousands more migrants to Europe.
Put the blame on Turkey and wash your hands, as if these two problems are the making of Erdoğan.
There are two particularly sad things about this perception game: Erdoğan also feeds it with his rhetoric and actions, seeing a benefit in juxtaposing himself with Europe. At the end of the day, this is only harming Turkey.
The second sad thing is that it is not brutal dictators like Sisi (who has not even internalized secularism) who will succeed in fighting radical terrorists.
On the contrary, his policies will only fuel more radicalism.