How can nationalists tell between Korean and Chinese people?
Once in a while, the nationalists in Turkey show too much interest in a chronic problem. The latest such issue is the situation of Turkic Uighurs living in China’s Xinjiang region and the supposed restrictions on the Muslim minority to observe the holy month of Ramadan.
Reports on the nationalist and pro-government media have suggested that the Uighurs have been denied their basic religious rights, including fasting.
Although the reports were accurate to some extent, since Chinese authorities have banned government employees and school children from fasting, horror stories in social media have been painting a picture of ethnic cleansing, even claiming that the Chinese were “skinning the Uighur Turks alive” and “eating Uighur babies.”
Such stories prompted protests across the country, many of which were led by the “İdealist Hearts” (Ülkü Ocakları), which has organic ties to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Nationalists and conservatives all around the world love the clichés and try to explain the word around them with stereotypes, especially when it comes to race issues. The protests proved this case, as nationalists who attended these protests tried to attack Chinese tourists and a Chinese restaurant. However, neither of these attempts harmed “oppressive” China much.
A Chinese restaurant vandalized by the nationalists in Istanbul belonged to a Turkish man and the restaurant employee beaten was in fact a Uighur Turk.
A couple days later, the nationalists wanted to attack a group of Chinese tourists to exercise their fundamental right to protest China. Not only does beating up Chinese citizens for something their government supposedly does made no sense, but also the victims of the attack were in fact Koreans.
Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the MHP, gave a clear example of the mentality behind such actions. Bahçeli, whose first name Devlet means “state” in English, is hailed by many for being a “true statesman,” but unfortunately, he is not immune to bigotry.
“These are young kids,” Bahçeli said in an interview published in daily Hürriyet yesterday, when asked about the attempt to attack Korean tourists in Istanbul.
“They might follow anyone,” Mr. “State” added. “Besides, what is the characteristic to tell between a Chinese and Korean? Slant eyes… He saw that both have slant eyes… Does it matter, sir?”
Well, it does in fact but apparently Bahçeli believes that any Asian person coming to Turkey should take into account the risk of being attacked by a group of nationalists, because they all have slant eyes and the Chinese are oppressing Uighurs.
Actually, we must thank Bahçeli for reminding us that violence has been a significant part of nationalist politics in this country. The nationalists, naming themselves “ülkücü” (idealists), sided with the forces within the state in the late 1960s and 1970s “to prevent Turkey from falling into the hands of the communists” and were behind hundreds of deadly attacks targeting leftist students and politicians. The “ülkücüs” were also the driving force behind the massacres in Kahramanmaraş in 1978 and Çorum in 1980, resulting in the killing of dozens of Alevi citizens.
That is why, when the MHP was shut down after the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup along with other political parties and its executives were put on trial, the party’s deputy leader Agah Oktay Güner said in court, “We are the only political cadre in the world whose mentality is in power, but it is in prison.”
Thank you, Mr. Bahçeli, for making clear that your mentality in power at the time has not changed a bit.