July 15 is source of Turkish pride, not foreign

July 15 is source of Turkish pride, not foreign

Many Turkish intellectuals have said or written that they do not understand why the Western world did not generously stand by Turkey’s democracy after it was saved following the failed putsch of July 15. In contrast, this columnist does not understand why it is too hard to understand why. 

In the first place this columnist does not understand, either, why Turkish politicians and intellectuals so passionately need Western pats on the shoulder because a coup attempt –fortunately – failed. Why should world leaders queue up to shout “bravissimo,” waving the Crescent and Star and erecting monuments in their capitals in memory of the heroic resistance of the Turkish people against a bunch of coup plotters? Why do Turks so ardently need Western praise? July 15 was and will remain a source of Turkish pride.  

Since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, this column has persistently argued that the end of “military tutelage” was a necessary but not sufficient condition to build a liberal democratic culture. Happily, the days of military tutelage are over, but Turkey is not a democracy in the word’s universal sense. Turkey is a “Turkish democracy” which some observers also call a “hybrid democracy.” Essentially, it is a “ballot-box democracy” and there are no signs that it may upgrade itself to a “democracy” devoid of a suffix.  

So why are there no Western pats on the shoulder because we Turks bravely stood against the coup and, on Sunday, felt united at a bi-partisan rally – which gathered over 3 million people – for the first time after 14 years of poisoned ideological polarization? Simple. 

There is no generous Western praise because what the Turks view as the “West” knows that Turkey will not be a democracy in the “Western” sense just because a putsch attempt failed. Because the people in the “West” know that Turkey’s blatant democratic deficit will not disappear just because the putschists failed.  
Because it was an embarrassing idea to build – even for a few days – a “traitors’ cemetery for the dead coup plotters. It was un-Islamic to refuse to offer funeral services for the dead coup plotters.  

Because people in the West know that in Turkey a pregnant woman can be beaten up for her “revealing” outfit. 

The people in the West have not passionately heaped praise on the Turkish anti-coup movement because Turkish politicians say the putsch was plotted in the West. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claims the coup was planned [written] “abroad.” The former military chief is more specific: İlker Başbuğ claims the CIA plotted the coup.  

There is no praise as Turks wish because there is a post-coup attempt witch hunt, with journalists who have only seen weapons in films arrested for being terrorists. Because Turkey’s “saved democracy” is purging tens of thousands and arresting thousands of people for being terrorists in the course of writing articles or depositing their money in a particular bank or reading a particular newspaper – terrorist banks and newspapers.    

There is not enough “Western” praise because Turkey’s Islamist governance was unmasked years ago; because Turkey is not the “bridge” the West so much wanted it to be, to straddle between the Western and Islamic civilizations. Because people know there is no bridge whatsoever.  

There is not enough praise because people in the West know what Turkey is heading for. A recent survey showed that opposition to Turkey’s EU membership ranges from 54 percent (Norway) to 81 percent (Germany).  

Because the Turkish president thinks a legal probe into his son’s financial activities in Italy can be stopped on “orders” from the Italian government; because he thinks Italy is Turkey.  

Because Mr. Erdoğan’s quest for EU membership is an oxymoron: that he thinks Turkey can be a full member while reinstating the death penalty. It would be fun to take the idea to a referendum. The nation’s will… Ballot-box democracy. It certainly would end the cheap, half-century-old play-acting.