Religious affairs and morality have broken up!
We were thought in primary school that secularism is separation of state affairs from religious affairs.
Years passed and I have learned that secularism is a much wider concept that cannot be summarized with such a narrow identification, but this first formulation had always remained engrained in my head.
When I look at all the developments we have witnessed since the Dec. 17, 2013 bribery and corruption operation: all of the leaked audio recordings, what supporters of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) say of Gülenists and what supporters of the Gülen Cemaat say of the AKP… I see a definition of “political Islam,” similar to the first definition of secularism that I learned:
“In our present day Turkey, Islam is the separation of religious affairs from moral affairs.”
Everything we witness and hear reminds me of that.
I listen to AKP officials, including the prime minister, on what they say about Cemaat followers.
“They are the tools of foreign actors, they have secretly listened to people; they don’t see a problem with kicking students out from their dorms in the middle of winter just because they like AKP. They have created a parallel state within the state. They have plotted against the army.”
“They blackmailed journalists and owners of newspapers to have publications on their favor.”
It goes on and on. You can find more of it in the prime minister’s daily campaign rallies.
On the other hand, I look at the leaked voice recordings. The prime minister worked as if he was the head of a tender commission. He gave a tender to those he wanted, excluded those he did not like. Those who were awarded the tenders had to allocate part of their money to certain foundations. The children of ministers pretending to be advisors were in the midst of bribery traffic of businessmen. They used shoe boxes to stock the money they gained.
The prime minister was the person to decide everything pertaining to the state’s financial dealings. He decided who will do trade with gas, who will get mining permits. Ministers have distributed Turkish citizenship through bribery.
Quranic verses were found through Google and posted on Twitter. So the list goes on and on, on that side as well. You can find more of it on the voice recordings that get leaked every day.
Each side of the debate uses a religious reference in one of the two sentences it uses. They keep talking about religiosity.
That’s why I say Political Islam as a concept has turned to the separation of religious affairs from moral affairs.
We don’t have to choose sides
If you look at what each side says, both the government and the Gülen Cemaat claim to be fighting for democracy.
The government says: They have set up a parallel state; they have become a state wiping a state; they are trying to highjack the national will. They were after a plot against an elected government; they wanted to prevent the government from governing using the power of the police and the judiciary.
That’s why if you do not side with the government in its fight against the Cemaat, you cannot be considered a democrat and you will harm the fight for democracy.
Cemaat says: There is a government stuck on corruption. They are attacking the Cemaat to cover themselves up. They are sending police, judges and prosecutors to exile. They have even violated the Constitution to get hold of the judiciary.
There will be a witch hunt. They don’t care about freedom of opposition. This is not about a fight between Cemaat and the government; this is a fight against democracy.
The picture is drawn in such a way that if you don’t side with one, then you are a person who does not believe in democracy, who tolerates corruption.
This is not that simple. We could ask for the investigation of corruption and at the same time want to prevent a parallel structure within the state. We don’t have to take sides.