Definition of justice

Definition of justice

In his “Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary,” Ambrose Bierce defines justice as “a commodity which in a more or less adulterated condition the state sells to its citizens as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s definition of justice is more straightforward.

In an Aug. 25, 2004, meeting of the National Security Council, Mr. Erdoğan, then prime minister, signed a decree that described Fetullah Gülen as a “security threat” to the country. However, he chose to treat Mr. Gülen not as a security threat but as a valuable political asset. Mr. Erdoğan admitted that he generously favored a man his government officially viewed as a security threat. 

Twelve years later, Mr. Erdoğan thinks that the man whom he officially declared a security threat to Turkey is the most dangerous terrorist in the world. 

Recently, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that it felt “sorrow” over the execution of two senior Islamist figures in Bangladesh. The ministry said in a press release: “Turkey, a country that abolished capital punishment, preserves its belief that execution is not a way to heal past wounds.”  

The statement that said “execution is not a way to heal past wounds” came about a month after Mr. Erdoğan said he would endorse capital punishment if “our nation desired it and parliament passed laws accordingly.” In other words, he is against capital punishment if Islamists in Bangladesh are executed but in favor of it if the guilty are his enemies in Turkey.  

“What court for a terrorist!?” Mr. Erdoğan roared a few days ago, in condemnation of the U.S. officials who insist that Mr. Gülen’s extradition could only be permitted by independent U.S. judges. Mr. Erdoğan once said he was the “prosecutor” of the trials against hundreds of officers on charges of plotting a coup. Those were the days of his alliance with the “security threat” to Turkey. After the security threat-turned ally became a real security threat, Mr. Erdoğan declared the trial null and void. Now he wants to play the lawgiver in the U.S. – and not just regarding the personality of Mr. Gülen. 

Reza Zarrab is described in Wikipedia as a businessman who, in June 2015, received the Turkish Export Award in a ceremony attended by President Erdoğan. Mr. Zarrab, who has business affiliations with the Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani, was briefly detained in Istanbul on Dec. 17, 2013, due to his involvement with the sons of three ministers and a minister in an alleged bribery, corruption and smuggling racket. Mr. Erdoğan immediately ruled that Mr. Zarrab was innocent and that the allegations were a coup d’état against his government. In March, Mr. Zarrab was arrested in the U.S. for conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, money laundering and bank fraud. 

Last week, Mr. Erdoğan discussed the curious case of Mr. Zarrab with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. He had two points, namely, that U.S. prosecutor Preet Bharara and Judge Richard Berman had been wined and dined in Turkey by an organization allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement and that Mr. Zarrab had not committed any crime according to the findings of multiple Turkish ministries. 

First, Mr. Bharara says he has never been to Turkey. Second, he thinks the U.S. justice should acquit Mr. Zarrab today, not tomorrow, merely because the Turkish president says he is innocent, and based on the findings of “multiple Turkish ministries,” not even Turkish courts.