Soul brothers

Soul brothers

Taksim is definitely not Tahrir. Nor is Kazlıçeşme like Raba’a Al-Adaweya. With all respect and admiration to its vast culture and history, Turkey is not Egypt either. But the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkey is the soul brother of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Everyone with some brains and a claim to be a democrat cannot have second doubts in condemning the coup in Egypt. As – like a broken watch that shows the correct time twice a day – Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said no one should have ifs and buts attached to his/her condemnation of coups. That’s all fine. But what about civilian coups? What about coups achieved through the ballot box? What about the ballot box being used to change people’s lifestyles? We have to condemn and deplore such heinous attempts as well without ifs and buts.

A legitimate election is legitimate for all. Irrespective of whether the participation rate was 25 or 35 percent, or whether a president was elected with just a slight majority of those participating 25 percent or so, if there are no other regulations requiring a higher turnout to be declared, then the elections are legitimate. That is the case in Egypt; both for the new Constitution and the Mohamed Morsi presidency.

But, for a social charter, there ought to be a qualified majority and even more than 50 percent of the people (not participants of the vote) might not be enough; perhaps 75 percent support should be required. In the end, that singled-handedly written and enacted Constitution and minority-elected president has become the source of contention in just one year’s time.

Frank Sinatra was great while singing “I did it my way.” In politics and governance, however, the game has to be participatory and those who insist on playing with an “I did it my way” hegemonic style. Some people have even faced far worse consequences, humiliated in a sick-bed while being brought to a courtroom in a cage.

If anyone asks any ordinary Turk about his/her chief complaint about the premier, s/he would just say “arrogance” and “condescending attitude.” With his eyes wide open, with the bass voice he is in love with, the prime minister is not just lecturing how many kids families must have or how religious and vengeful they must raise their kids at every opportunity, but also swearing at people without even respecting the mother of a poor peasant.

Obviously, there are no similarities between Taksim, Tahrir or Al-Adaweya squares as there are no similarities in the behavioral patterns of Turkish and Egyptian people, though they share Islamic culture. The concerns, priorities, obsessions, expectations are all different, but there is one thing in common at least between Taksim and Tahrir: A determination not to allow impositions that might change their lifestyle. Just as the AKP is the soul brother of the Muslim Brotherhood, Taksim, in that sense, is the soul brother of Tahrir.

 That’s why Erdoğan and his people are so scared with the developments in Egypt. A castrated army with handpicked commanders acting to support a rebelling Tahrir ousted Morsi. There is a castrated army with handpicked commanders and a rebelling Taksim… Will Erdoğan listen to calls for moderation or respect the right to free assembly or send in water cannon, police equipped with tear gas and plainclothes police officers with machetes and long sticks?

Who were those machete-wielding men, beating up a woman in Taksim on Saturday night?