Twice an injustice (II)
No doubt, the Ergenekon verdicts send messages at many wavelengths, although the simplistic, immediate message is that “anyone who dares to overthrow any democratically-elected Turkish government through undemocratic means will have his fingers badly burnt.” That’s so nice. And full of optimism based on the assumption that things will come up roses in the land of the Crescent and Star. All the same, the Turkish and Kurdish problems blended, Turkey’s next decade slogan for the adventure tourist could well be, “Trouble everyday.”
How democratic a posture a country could pose when it ranks 154th on the global press freedom index, kills its own people because they protest, and ruthlessly punishes every possible means of dissent, including “just standing in a public square?” The Turkey of 2013 is the short-cut proof that a country where the elected have absolute control over the appointed, including the men in uniform, is not necessarily a democracy – in the word’s conventional meaning, not in its “bon pour l’Orient” connotation.
Speaking of the “Orient,” I am still curious to know how cunningly Egypt’s coup leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, must have grinned at the Ergenekon verdicts: “Thank God! I knew I did the right thing – something which even the Americans do not call a coup, and escaped rotting in Egyptian dungeons!” That’s bad for Egyptian democracy but smart thinking for potential coup leaders.
There is a message to potential terrorists, too: Be serious and bomb and kill as many as you can if you don’t want to rot in jail. Just take a look at the PKK’s free men and the generals in jail; if you are violently/militarily powerful we may shake hands with you; if you have pens and silly coup sketches instead of Kalashnikovs, you are doomed to spend the rest of your lives in jail.
Potential coup plotters: Don’t plot; it’s too dangerous. If you are serious about a coup just do it, or you will simply rot in jail for toying with the idea. Remember, coups are not punished, mental coups are.
But does the whole message not look like an inspiration of a universal rule? We can go ahead and bomb Baghdad on the pretext that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – precisely because we know he doesn’t. And we cannot bomb Tehran because we know the Iranians may really have WMD or TMMD (terror means of mass destruction).
Meanwhile, the Ergenekon verdicts can help enrich Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “Muslims don’t…” series. In addition to his earlier “Muslims don’t resort to terrorism,” “Muslims don’t kill,” “Muslims never commit genocide,” and “Muslims don’t lie” dictum, he can just smile and come up with a new one: “Muslims never commit injustice.”
All the same, there is one specific addressee for the letter mailed from the courtroom that condemned an army of people. With or without proof of association with any camp of political Islam, the verdicts have one important message for Islam’s/Islamism’s pro-dialogue, pro-conciliation and moderate ideologies and their ideologues.
Rightly or wrongly, the non-Islamist (but Muslim) Turks will always (repeat: always) associate the end result, “freedom for the PKK, life sentences for generals, academics and journalists,” with the particular grouping that boasts to be Islam’s/Islamism’s pro-peace/pro-dialogue face.
As the verdicts sharpen hostilities and deepen polarization in Turkey and potential future incidents add to the international awareness about how less peaceful and more divided Turkey turns, the universally pro-dialogue, pro-social service network will turn exponentially less convincing in its international discourse.
In the face of multibillion dollar worth global activities promoting interfaith dialogue, peace and community service across the globe, including in Black Africa and the remotest corners of the world, the immediate questions its members will face will be tough, biting and disturbing: How can you win hearts and minds in distant lands and with distant faiths, races and ideologies when you are at a dirty war with your own people? How can you make peace with other faiths when you are at a merciless war with less pious members of your own faith? How can you preach justice when the skies of your own country are so terribly polluted with injustice?
Really, how can they?