What it feels like to live in Turkey

What it feels like to live in Turkey

Now I know how it feels to be hopeless! There is nothing left to be said: Turkey is fast heading toward destruction! Even after the latest tragedy in Ankara, nothing has changed: there is no remorse, no sensibility, no sobriety and no dignity from the president and his party.

Business goes on as usual; everybody else but the government is responsible for the grave atrocity, according to government party supporters.

“If you blame me [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan], you are with terrorists,” he said, in his own words. After that, it emerged that the bombers were members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but “wait a minute, there is a press ban on the news for the sake of inquiries.” Then, government circles started to claim that “maybe it is a PKK, or at least a joint ISIL-PKK operation.” If the question is, “Is it possible for those who are fighting each other in Syria to engage in a joint venture in Turkey?” Here is the answer: “Why not, after all, they are both enemies of Turkey.”

This is what you read, hear and are supposed to be convinced about regarding the devastating blast that killed more than 100 in Ankara. If you are unconvinced, “you are no better than the terrorists and are part of a great plot against Turkey;” indeed, it is the great powers that are behind the plot to destroy Turkey, even when they are supposedly our allies and friends. If the question is, “Why are our so-called friends all against us?” then the answer is also ready: “Well, it is a long story which begins with the Crusaders; it’s a war against Islam. They managed to destroy the Ottomans and now Turkey’s rise frightens them, so they are doing everything to stop it.”

If you ask “what ‘rise’ are you talking about?” here is the answer for those “who are unaware of the importance of Turkey”: “Under the leadership of Erdoğan, the rules of the game started to change. Erdoğan is the only modern Muslim leader who challenged the imperialistic West, that is why they are trying everything to silence him: the end of Erdoğan is the end of Turkey; the end of Turkey is the end of the Muslim world. This time, they will not succeed!”

Imagine you live under the rule of those who believe in this narrative. Their worldview is a blend of conspiratorialism, nationalistic paranoia, xenophobia and a revengeful kind of nostalgia. Since the leadership and majority of the AKP’s supporters are genuine believers, it is scary to think that a considerable portion of the country that you live in has this sort of mindset. There are also those careerists who have nothing to do with Islamism and/or nationalism but pretend to be converts. It is not only something scary but also sickening. It is the most difficult part of life under authoritarian rule and in times of crises; it is a paradise for sycophants, opportunists and hypocrites and, contrastingly, a hell for anybody who cares about human integrity and dignity.

After all, it was a Western-educated, Western-oriented, female academic who recently became the European Union minister that claimed that “there are great powers behind this,” referring to the Ankara blasts. So, often you have to choose between an idiot and a hypocrite, between a narrow-minded person and an opportunist or between a fanatic and a lunatic. 

Now I know how it feels to become “cynical” – something that I have politically despised for so long! Now I know how it feels to be defeated.