An advanced democratic snapshot

An advanced democratic snapshot

What might be the fundamental difference between an advanced-democratic or non-democratic state and a democratic one? It is easy to make a long list as there ought to be no difficulty in finding discrepancies. The fundamental difference that must be looked at is the status of the individual.

During the good old times for the die-hard Kemalists the state, as well as the “state ideology” were sacrosanct. The Kemalist republic was long silently replaced with an advanced democracy where the former landmark days were either no longer celebrated, or reluctantly marked indoors while at every opportunity the founding fathers and founding philosophy of the republic were downsized if not ridiculed. The fundamentalist irritation against the father of the secular republic could perhaps best be seen in the absence of the premier at ceremonies held at Anıtkabir – the mausoleum of Atatürk – for the past many years, of course for either health reasons or trips abroad. The stopover in Brunei last year was particularly well-planned.

The citizen, the individual and his/her rights were more important that the state which anyhow should not have an ideology of the new ruling elite, their academics, pen-slingers were telling the nation.
Liberation of the individual, however, was restricted with the Sunni Muslim section until, under the duress of the international community, some palliative moves were compelled to be taken such as the confiscated properties of the non-Muslim minorities and minority foundations. The new sacrosanct state and its sacrosanct Sunni Hanefi ideology, however is still pondering what to do, how much to do, with regards to the Alevis. The Alevis do not demand much more than the recognition of their “Cem” houses as their places of worship and an end to discrimination, particularly with the Religious Affairs Directorate and in textbooks.

The new sacrosanct ideology, however, has been busy not only trying to establish a belt of Sunni brotherhood in the Muslim geography but promote Sunni school of thought in the country. Even though this could not be said, for now, loudly and publicly, many Sunni scholars do consider the Alevi belief as outside Islam all together anyhow. Tolerance and co-existence of all beliefs were good in slogans but when transformed into life it became problematic. A project financed by the Fethullah Gülen brotherhood hosting a Sunni mosque and an Alevi Cem house under one roof in Ankara has become a source of continued fundamentalist protest… Protestors were so daring that before the religious holiday, they got ahold of a bulldozer one night and chased a TOMA truck – one of those that horrendously and indiscriminately attacked demonstrating opponents somewhere almost every night. The TOMA was like a cat attacked by a dog. What happened to those fundamentalist demonstrators? How many of them were taken in, how many of them were detained and what legal action has been taken against them?

Like the May/June Gezi Park horrendous attacks on peaceful demonstrators, under the orders of Ankara’s mayor Melih Gökçek, police enforced municipal bulldozers ambushed the Middle East Technical University forest, cut hundreds of trees to open way for a new highway in the middle of the night. The Legal process was not yet over. METU offered the construction of a tunnel and that was under review. But the mayor wanted to make best use of the religious holiday and ordered massacre of the METU forest… A new “Gezi” is brewing…

The individual is important; but which individual and where?