Continue praying

Continue praying

Hell has broken loose, again, on the topic of student accommodation.

The statements of Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç were reasonable; they had a calming effect, they were lawful. He said, “We have no authority” on checking “homes.” 

The chief adviser to the prime minister, Yalçın Akdoğan, also wanted to elaborate on the subject: The issue was not about students’ private accommodation but monitoring unlicensed venues operating like hotels or guesthouses in which young girls and boys stay together. 

These are all together normal. They are statements aimed at lowering the tension. 

When I read these, I also thought the issue would be closed. 

As a writer with conservative values and who exceptionally values the institution of the family, I also support the idea of the state building separate dormitories for female and male students. All public dormitories are like that anyway, maybe there are a few exceptions. 

I fully support co-ed education; but if I had a daughter, I would not have wanted her to stay in an apartment together with her male friends while she was a university student. 

I know as a lawyer that the state cannot interfere with any residential venue unless there is harm against “public order, general morality and general health.” 

Everybody is annoyed by crowded, loud and irregular neighbors. However, these issues are to be tackled by families, individuals and building managers; and when it becomes an “incident,” then by the municipality, local police and finally the courts. 

Despite my conservative sensitivity, I regard these matters as “the rumors are worse than the actual incident, if anything happened at all.” I believe that it is not correct to involve the partisanship and opposition sentiments in these kinds of matters. In this respect, I had welcomed Bülent Arınç’s and later Yalçın Akdoğan’s statements. 

However, the prime minister took the matter in his hands in his known style, heating up the debate once more. A topic that is absolutely exceptional and marginal has been turned into a general, heated and political debate.

It is only the province of Denizli where a few families and a few complaints are in question. I assume these complaints are well-founded. But issues that could very well have been solved locally without much fanfare have been blown into a huge political argument. 

About three years ago, after a speech from the prime minister, I wrote these lines: 

“Instead of the style of ‘They are drinking until they are choking,’ wouldn’t ‘whoever wants to can drink freely; there is no problem’ be better? Wouldn’t it be more elegant? 

The atmosphere would have calmed down.

I understand Erdoğan’s feelings. I happened to be very close to late President Turgut Özal, who also had this same sentiment: I am working day and night, I serve so much: They do not understand me; they are trying to obstruct me.

But this is almost a law of politics: As the period of governance gets longer, the patience of the opposition and the tolerance of the government decrease. 

The prime minister should have been more tolerant, he should have used a softer tone. 

He should be able to control his sentiments and should have opted for a language that would have closed the argument. 

Well, how far we can go if the opposing masses continue to be less patient and the government continues to rage? 

I can do nothing but make a record in history: “Moderation, tolerance, understanding…” Milliyet, Jan. 16, 2011. 

I am writing the same lines today. I had also written in daily Hürriyet: “I am praying; so that Prime Minister Erdoğan leaves his tough, tension-building, scolding style and goes back to the warm and inclusive style that he had from the ‘balcony’ on election nights,” (June 5, 2013). 

You know what? I still say the same prayer… 

Taha Akyol is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Nov 6. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.