The race for piety will be our end

The race for piety will be our end

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan uttered such a statement last week that it left us all in shambles.

He said, “We will raise religious generations.”

We froze.

We have not yet been able to overcome it. He elaborated to a certain extent yesterday, but there is still no clarity. 

These words were perceived differently in almost every segment of society. 

Alarm bells went off in the secular segment. They thought as such: Finally, Erdoğan has revealed his “hidden agenda” and took the step that would destroy the foundations of the secular system. What does it mean, really, that the state “raises religious youth”? Is this the first step toward a religious state? 

It was not fully understood in the conservative circles either. One section applauded it with much satisfaction while another section is researching how these words can be filled up. 

Whether the prime minister uttered these words actually meaning them or said them just to tread on Kılıçdaroğlu’s toes, I am yet to understand. 

These words should not be left like this. They must be further filled. What they meant must be explained very clearly. If this indefiniteness continues, then a very dangerous process will begin. A debate storm will erupt that will go as far as fights about being religious versus claims to be godless. 

The international echoes of this debate will even be more dangerous. Remember the cries, “Turkey’s axis is being shifted.” This time it will create a much tougher environment very difficult to handle. 
If the Justice and Development Party (Ak Parti) does not wish such a domestic and international tension – and I do not think it ever does – then it should openly explain what this approach means. 

Be careful, this debate we are entering this time will be conducted on a very dangerous platform because “religiousness” is the most suitable subject for misunderstanding. God forbid, in case it gets out of control, it can lead to bloodshed. 

It is such a subject that whoever objects may be stoned for being unreligious / godless. 

It is such a subject that the opposition, afraid of being labeled as “They want a godless youth,” would keep silent and tomorrow we will find ourselves at a spot where nobody, even those who have opened Pandora’s box, want to be. 

For this reason, “these words must be filled up” as soon as possible. 

What if towns enter this race tomorrow?

If this environment is not managed properly, it will easily be abused and a “being religious” or “making religious” race will start that nobody can predict where it will stop. All of a sudden you will recognize that Turkey is at a place that even the Ak Parti, which claims to be very democratic, does not wish to go. 

How? Very easily. I’m not exaggerating. 

It will probably be the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) to act first. For the sake of “harmonization with our customs,” fines will increase. They will restrict all kissing scenes; they will confuse pornography with explicit broadcast and all television screens will be made pious. 

Then will come religious foundations. After them, it will be municipalities. All kinds of Quran teaching courses, legal or illegal, will mushroom. Courses, training modules, social events and aid campaigns to popularize religiousness will be launched. 

Pressure for restaurants to close during Ramadan will increase as well as restrictions on service and sale of alcoholic drinks. In short, the “neighborhood pressure” will intensify.

religion, Islam, Islamism, AKP, Tayyip Erdogan,