What’s happening in Turkey?
Those who want quick and simple, but inadequate, answers to the question above find them in the editorials of any publication out of Europe or Washington. All of the Western media, having received their information from the same 20-30 top individuals, all of whom share the same point of view, paint a particular picture of Turkey. Clearly, this picture is nowhere near an adequate comprehension of what’s really happening in Turkey. These sources, all of whom are either liberal or staunchly secularist, constitute the entire frame of reference for the Western media’s understanding of events in Turkey.
Once you add the liberal secularist tendencies of the Western media into the mix, it is not really difficult to come up with the Western media’s perceptions of Turkey, which they believe is being “governed by an Islamist party.”
American media in particular and European media in the last few years, continue to operate under the premise that Turkey is being governed by “a dictator.” Their biggest and only proof of this claim is the Gezi Park events. This is only natural. The events of the Gezi Park, after all, provided great material to those looking in from the West, for effortless Turkey analyses, despite its inherent political, social, socio-economical and psychological complexities. From the West, it appeared that the majority of the masses that took to the square were “protesting” in “the name of the West.” Not unlike the cozy feeling the Tamorod Movement gave the Western media in the aftermath of the bloody coup in Egypt.
The same media did not hesitate to diminish the protests that lasted for days in Hamburg – by all accounts carried out by similar actors – to apolitical “ordinary street demonstrations.” The role of Western orientalism, perhaps as much as the role of German democracy’s maturity, cannot be denied in these reports.
There is, of course another angle to consider. It is impossible for the Western media, which is constrained in its criticism of Israel, to be able to reconcile with a perspective that does not hesitate to become the staunchest critic of Israel, such as Turkey. It appears that there are almost no headings that are not in some way tainted by the Israel issue. Just how well was the Western media able to comprehend what was happening in Turkey for the last few weeks? Considering their sources in Turkey, this could easily be declared mission impossible. For instance, the New York Times, which completely missed the boat on the Egyptian coup and offered justifications for the Obama administration’s failure to label the coup a coup, wrote, Erdoğan “created a political disaster at home, transforming Turkey into an authoritarian state.”
What the NYT called a “political disaster” is nothing but a scheme in which the police, the prosecutor and the judge collaborated to create a mishmash file made up of unrelated investigations to splash on the headlines right before elections. The administration the NYT accuses of becoming “authoritarian” is the same administration that is trying to disperse the gang constituted by the police-judiciary collaboration. Erdoğan, whom the NYT accused of being authoritarian if not a dictator, pointed out that he had no protection against the actions of the police-judiciary, which in essence amounted to a coup against his administration. In an authoritarian Turkey, apparently, members of law enforcement and the judiciary can collaborate with the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) for an operation on the administration. And apparently, the same gang can organize even a bigger operation only a week later, despite Erdoğan’s harsh response!