Where democracies and dictatorships meet
Excerpts from an analysis in a prestigious newspaper:
“The government … has been posting a series of restrictive laws.
“One example is state universities, where the authorities want to quash the anti-government protests that disrupted studies last year. The more than 1 million students returning to campuses faced lengthy queues and body searches just to get inside. After some responded angrily, police moved in with teargas and shotguns … Students who object may be dismissed. Faculty members may be fired for ‘inciting’ protests. Now [the president is] appointing people [as university presidents].
“[The state] bans protests, unless they are licensed, but such licenses are rarely granted.
“The government has made it a crime punishable … to accept or ‘facilitate’ funding for any activity deemed a danger to national security or to ‘public peace.’
“‘Why do they make laws to frighten citizens instead of protecting them?’ asked [a poster] on Twitter. ‘It’s because they make them to protect the state,’ was one answer.”
That was a very realistic, though frightening, analysis of Turkish affairs at a time when Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s government, under remote-control from the presidential palace, has launched new de jure offensives on a phantom-like terrorist organization that goes with the phantom-like name “the parallel state,” as well as on any kind of dissent, Kurdish, Turkish or Martian. However, the analysis was not on Turkey.
The Economist’s gloomy analysis in its Oct. 25-31 issue was portraying the human rights situation in Egypt, ruled by a dictator; not in Turkey, ruled by democracy. Ah, that’s good news then? Unfortunately, on all objective criteria, the portrayal perfectly fitted Turkey, where at the beginning of the academic year the government decided to spend 13.7 million euros on 65 new anti-riot, water-cannon trucks.
“Why do they make laws to frighten citizens instead of protecting them?”
“It’s because they make them to protect the state.”
That’s Egypt. A dictatorship with which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refuses to have any kind of contact. Why, then, do they make laws to frighten citizens instead of protecting them in Turkey, which is an “advanced democracy," according to the ruling elite. It’s because they make them to protect the state.
CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance, has announced that “[it] is deeply concerned with the proposed ‘Security Package’ before the Turkish [not Egyptian] Parliament, which if approved will warrant abusive policing practices, such as the ability to disperse public assemblies with physical force and to use firearms against protesters. In addition, the security package will grant courts broad powers to persecute and detain political dissidents.”
President Barack Obama, the unsuccessful inventor of the failed concept “a great Islamic democracy,” deserves credit for his 2009 speech in – ironically – Cairo: “We will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people … There are those who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others … You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion … Elections alone do not make true democracy.”
“Elections alone do not make true democracy.” Thank you, President Obama, for that. That should be a prophesy for Egypt in view of Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s so-and-so election.
“There are those who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others.” Thank you, President Obama, also for that. Even a six-month-old Turkish cat will understand which country would best qualify for this category of ballot-box democracy in the Middle East. But, then, what happened to your euphemism of “a great Islamic democracy?”
The answer is hidden precisely in the prefix that you chose to describe a democracy – a democracy with a religious prefix. A democracy is a democracy. A democracy that goes with the prefix Islamic, Christian or Judaic is not democracy. That’s why you have never called America as “a great Christian democracy,” or Israel as “a great Judaic democracy.” There are democracies and democracies that go with religious prefixes. The latter, President Obama, often border on dictatorships, as you pointed out in your 2009 speech.