The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
are often accused of having a secret agenda. Some people claim that the ruling political clan and the tall, bald, bold, ever-angry tenant of the extravagant palace wanted to transform the country into something different but have so far successfully kept that agenda secret.
Wrong. Neither Erdoğan nor the ruling AKP ever hid their agenda of converting Turkey into a more conservative, Islamic and totalitarian country. Sometimes they might not be able to say it, publicly fearing the reaction from some segments of society, but at every period some members of the group provided hints of what might be coming soon.
Often after certain remarks created a furor in the society, the AKP alienated those members of the party who were ordered to make revelations regarding explosive future plans. Did anyone, for example, remember that AKP deputy who commented to the media back in 2007 that “God willing, not only in universities, women willing to cover their heads will be able to do so in public offices and municipalities”?
Who was that AKP executive who said “God willing, the veil will be introduced even in primary schools. The veil is a right, a requirement of Islam, no one should touch it”? Don’t we see today very young girls covered from head to toe not only in Erzurum, or Siirt, but in downtown Istanbul and in the heart of Ankara?
Can anyone remember the mayor who suggested segregating municipal buses for the comfort of women? People were very angry with those statements, but can we deny today that segregated buses and trams have become a routine in Konya?
Most recently, a former AKP central executive board member “heralded” that the government was “building a new state” and said the “founding leader” of that new state is Erdoğan. He may now be attacked, denounced and even expelled from the ruling party today or tomorrow. But have other senior AKP officials and even a deputy prime minister come up with any statements saluting Atatürk
as the founder of the Turkish Republic? Have they tried to assuage the enraged people?
The AKP is perhaps just trying to get people accustomed to the idea that a new republic is in the making. If they had no such claim - from the president, to the pro-AKP village headman, to the entire AKP clan - then why do they keep talking about a “New Turkey”?
Is there really any difference between constantly saying “New Turkey” and “We are founding a new state”?
Once upon a time there was a chubby political leader in this country. Including this writer, many journalists faced his wrath and found themselves in front of courts, mostly on charges of “insulting the president.” On the one hand, he was collecting cartoons critical of him and hanging them on the walls of his office, while on the other hand he was instructing his lawyers to open libel suits against journalists and opponents based on accusations of “insulting the president.”
It was difficult to get used to his style. Once he even inspected a military regiment in shorts and slippers. “They will get used to me,” he often said, while the most beloved slogan of his critics was their “We shall not get used to it.”
Years have passed since then. Turgut Özal long ago passed into history. The Turkey that he transformed from a backward third league country into a market economy open to the world achieved incredible progress in recent decades.
Still, we have an accommodation problem. Erdoğan and his political clan are insisting that they will walk on their path regardless of what their opponents. Today, with over 170 journalists in prison, amid discussions on special “single-type” uniforms at court for suspects facing terrorism charges, forged evidence, incredible claims, and an attempted coup that one year on still no one really knows much about, can anyone feel relieved by a statement from the president saying that everyone should feel comfortable as “we have no other state than the Turkish Republic”?