‘Marginal atheists’ fighting Turkey’s Kurdish peace process
The ongoing Kurdish peace process will be a key factor for voters in the June 7 general elections, and all sides are doing their best to convince the people that their side of the story is true.
One unsurprising player in the fight for votes is President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The republic’s first president elected by popular vote would like for the election to turn into a referendum about Turkey potential switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system, with, of course, Erdoğan himself at the helm.
With this ambition, the president has been unafraid to break his oath to stay politically neutral, creating opportunities nearly every day to ask voters to “give 400 lawmakers” to a party in the elections.
Although he has not openly stated that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) should be the recipient of those lawmakers, his verbal attacks on opposition parties make it clear where these votes are wanted.
During “his” ongoing election campaign, Erdoğan - who is concerned about losing both conservative nationalist and conservative Kurdish votes to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) respectively - has increased the nationalist tone in his speeches, putting both the AKP and the government in difficult positions while also openly criticizing the HDP.
In a speech on March 23, a few days after he declared Turkey’s Kurdish problem non-existent, Erdoğan played directly to the religious senses of the country’s Kurds, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslims.
“Turks and Kurds are brothers who have stood together in difficult times throughout history. Those who question the history of Kurds solely by looking at the last 30-40 years make a mistake. Marginal, atheist and nonbelieving movements disconnected to the values of these lands cannot recast our relations,” he said.
According to Erdoğan, the biggest threat that the Kurds in eastern and southeastern Turkey face is their lifestyle.
“The terror organization and the political party plays with the nature and soul of my Kurdish brother by imposing their own lifestyle. Their worldview and their lifestyle do not belong to these lands,” he also said.
The message of the speech was simple: You Kurds are devout Muslims; they [the HDP and the PKK] are secular atheists. Do not vote for them, vote for your Sunni Muslim brothers instead.
This is not the first time Erdoğan has used religion to solve the now “non-existent” Kurdish problem.
In a speech he made as prime minister in Diyarbakır in June 2011, Erdoğan encouraged unity and brotherhood in Kurdish citizens by highlighting religious unity rather than ethnic identity.
“Some say the Kurdish people’s religion is Zoroastrianism and Islam was forcefully imposed. This is not true,” Erdoğan said during an election rally for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“You must know that the community in Istanbul’s Süleymaniye Mosque turns [their faces] to the same qibla as the community here in the Ulu Mosque. Our qibla is same. Is there any difference? No,” he added.
Clearly, there are no problems between Muslim brothers, and even if there were, these problems could have been solved immediately if it weren’t for those marginal atheists who try to impose secular Western values on our beloved Muslim brothers.
After all, those atheists are behind all the evil in this country. Isn’t it those marginal atheists who have for years been trying to create doubts of corruption about Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek? They were so successful in their smear campaign that even Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç fell into their trap.