Innocent as the white of milk

Innocent as the white of milk

When praising someone in Anatolia, it is often said “He drank ‘halal’ milk” or “He deserved all praise, whatever he did should be ‘halal’ to him like his mother’s milk.” Anther saying underlines the strong correlation between “white” and “halal” or blessed, or religion-wise allowed, with the saying “Innocent as the white of milk.”

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has insisted, right from the first day it was established 14 years ago, to be referred to as the “Ak” or “White” Party. Why? Because not only “unlike the other corrupt, dirty and sinful” parties, the AKP was “pure and clean,” but also one of its three aims in its establishment was to fight corruption. Another of the party’s professed aim was to fight poverty and to eradicate all prohibitions. Was not the AKP boasting to fight and eradicate the “three Ys,” as in Turkish, the words for corruption, poverty and prohibitions all start with the letter “Y?”

I was at a dinner with an American professor and some Turkish friends the other night. We were discussing the awful rights panorama of Turkey and the worsening situation, as authoritarianism is being consolidated in the country. It was difficult to explain how a politician could receive a watch worth a quarter million euros from a businessmen as a gift and when the bribe was discovered, the same politician made the businessman who sent the bribe pay the same watch’s import tax as well and get away with it because the absolute leader of the party, government, parliament, military, civilians – that is, the entire country – wished so. Why? If one brick is taken, the entire castle of corruption built with relentless efforts over the past 13 years might collapse on him. That is the fear.

The minister confessed on TV. “I obeyed the orders of my prime minister. What’s done wrong, he has a share in” he said as he cried in front of cameras. He was accused of distributing precious treasury land at cheap prices to businessmen supported by the government. He was accused of allowing land developing businessmen to steal away, at very low prices, large chunks of land, the prices of which would skyrocket, as the public housing administration would develop the region soon. The sultan wanted him to be cleared, despite the public confession that he got away with what he and his masters did with the majority of the AKP raising their hands to say no to sending him to the Supreme Council for trial.

The other chubby guy made fun of Islam, distorted the Quran, alleged to have stashed millions of greenbacks in shoe boxes, claimed to have received cash bribes in chocolate boxes. Voting in parliament whether to send himself to the Supreme Council he threw the ballot into the box as if generously tipping someone. He was also saved by the AKP parliamentary majority.

The other guy was hopeless. He cried testifying in front of the parliamentary inquiry committee. He begged not to be sent to the Supreme Council. He had more than enough reasons to worry, because the allegations against him were very severe. His son was implicated in the misuse of his father’s office, and was accused of arranging European visa for an Iranian-Turk businessman with the help of the other accused minister, as well as laundering money and gold transferred from Iran by distributing generous bribes… Worse, millions were found in his dressing room. Furthermore, there were recordings of conversations between the “father and the son” on how to evade the police and the probe…

Without any surprise, as wished by the absolute ruler, he was cleaned of all charges, also through the AKP parliamentary majority raising their hands to declare there was no need to send him to the Supreme Council…

In this theatrical show of AKP-style justice and morality – after all, these people who voted to clean the dirt off the ministers all claim to be true Muslims who would never lie – produced a promising result as well. Despite all of the pressure, some 50 AKP deputies voted for the need to send the ministers to the Supreme Council.

This is Turkey and we have experienced astonishing examples of how evidence can be concocted so easily against anyone with various shocking examples from the past decade. These ministers might indeed – though it appears rather impossible – be victims of a plot. Why were they and their master so scared of taking the issue to the Supreme Council and receiving an “all clean” report, but instead cleaned themselves?

Are they really as innocent as the white of milk?