Hardly a joyous bayram…
The Eid al-Adha (Feat of the Sacrifice) bayram holiday should be a period of amity, sharing and rejoicing. It is hard to say this year’s bayram is such.
Things in Turkey were not going well before the July 15 coup attempt. The fact that the leadership, meaning of course President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had to take radical steps by dismissing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and subsequently making fundamental policy changes, most notably in foreign policy, provides the most concrete evidence in this regard.
The coup attempt however shook the nation to the core. Many who believed that such a thing could not happen in Turkey anymore were taken totally by surprise. There was nevertheless a moment after the coup when a sense of optimism prevailed with the hope that this event, and the momentous way it was foiled by the people, would result in enhancing our faltering democracy.
That turned out to be a fleeting moment of optimism. Our democracy is sustaining fresh assaults today in the name of “fighting terrorism” and this will ensure that attaining the stability so desired by ordinary citizens will be more remote than ever.
The scope of those accused of supporting the coup, or being somehow actively involved in it, has been broadened in such an undemocratic way that it mocks the intelligence of many. The notion being promoted by the pro-government press now is that Kemalists and Marxists, in other words secularists and leftists, were also in cahoots with the Islamist Fethullah Gülen group that is accused of masterminding the coup attempt.
Meanwhile the highest echelons of the state continue to push the notion that “nefarious international powers,” starting with the U.S., were involved in this attempt. Turkey is back to square one, but with added and undiscerning vindictiveness on the part of its rulers towards all of their opponents without distinction.
As journalists we have seen an increasing number of colleagues and some have written for this very paper being incarcerated on the basis of questionable “circumstantial evidence.” Journalists are not the only ones to suffer. Tens of thousands of businessmen, bureaucrats, actors, academics, doctors (the list goes on and on) are also being picked up. It’s almost as if a latter-day Inquisition has taken over the country.
No one can argue that everyone is innocent, but there is no effort to sort the wheat from the chaff. Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım have also started to bemoan this, although cynics argue they are only doing so because overzealous prosecutors have started getting too close to home.
It is not clear how those who run this country hope to put it back on the right track that benefits the nation as a whole. Perusing this past decade it is clear on whose watch matters have come to a head, leaving us facing the chaos we are today.
First there was the Ergenekon and related cases which even their avid supporters are admitting now were monstrous miscarriages of justice, even though they admit this for political rather than legal reasons.
Everyone knows who supported this “gross miscarriages of justice” at the time and how they are contrite now and apologizing, like Erdoğan, for having supposedly been “duped” by a crowd - which they claim they supported “inadvertently” - that had infiltrated organs of the state in order to take control of the government.
There were also the Gezi demonstrations, which were handled vindictively and violently without the slightest thought as to why so many people around the country, the majority of them not stone-throwing rioters, were so aggrieved.
All that Gezi spawned in the end was further erosion in the standard of democracy and the rule of law. And now we have what we have, which is only promising more domestic turmoil and erosion of our democracy.
All one can do this bayram is recall Marcellus’ famous remark about Denmark in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and apply it to Turkey.