The neighborhood is confused

The neighborhood is confused

The secularist neighborhood is very much in disarray nowadays. Some sadistically enjoy what is happening to the people belonging to the Fethullah Gülen Islamist brotherhood, some are expressing sympathy for their suffering, while some are rather indifferent, saying two evil forces are fighting and they just don’t bother which will eventually overcome the other.

Can indeed anyone sit at a corner and watch a war between the government and the Gülenists, saying this is a war of attrition, irrespective of who wins, the other will continue oppressing the rest of the country, particularly the secularists? Is it that simple? Is it possible at all that if the Justice and Development Party (AKP) political clan wins over the Gülen brotherhood, that is if the elected political Islamists is victorious in the fight with a religious community, Turkey will be better off? Or, is the Gülen brotherhood fighting for democracy, rights and liberties and if it loses the country will lose all together?

This is a complex situation and it is rather normal that the secularist neighborhoods, including the Kemalist and the nationalist streets, as well as the Kemalist-nationalist-pious street, are perplexed with the complicated situation they have confronted. Which side they should align with?

Was it not the Gülenists that incited the government to walk over, indeed try to bulldoze, the secularists over the past decade? Was it not the Gülenists who helped the Center for Excellence in Concocting Forged Evidence to produce suitcases full of forged or manipulated evidence that landed many people in prison for years? Who indeed is responsible for the daughter of Mustafa Balbay, who grew up without a father, discriminated at school, spent years in between Ankara and the Silivri Prison near Istanbul to visit her father, who was deprived of his liberty just because of a “Young officers are uneasy” headline in his newspaper?

It is easy for me, who narrowly suffered in all those years from the alliance of the AKP and the brotherhood to say, “freedoms should come first and irrespective whose freedom is compromised I align with the aggrieved.” But this is not so easy for many. Yet, we have the Ahmet Şıks who not only suffered for crimes they did not commit, but presumed willing to commit, but also were generous enough to express sympathy for the victims of the operation by the government on the Gülenists. Did Şık forgive what was done to him? Was it possible to accept being imprisoned for a book not yet published and still forgive those who helped the authorities land him in all that mess? He did not forgive them, but he also did not forget the sufferings he underwent and had a very big heart that enabled him to express sympathy even for people he considered, if not enemies, not friendly at all toward him. That is an exemplary intellectual undertaking. After all, trying to take revenge, revanchism is a primitive instinct, is it not?

Indeed, what we are living through nowadays is a new phase in the fight for absolute rule. The AKP government, or to put it more plainly, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, did not want to share power with anyone, including his former allies, the Gülenists. He forgot that it was with the help of the Gülenists that his party climbed the ladders of power. But, perhaps that’s the way it is. Once at the helm of power, no one, probably, wants to continue sharing it with their old partners.

On the other hand, despite all the confusion in the neighborhood, many are apparently aware that this is a “salami process.” It is as if a huge saw is cutting the society like salami, slice by slice, and them taking away. Can anyone say that if the Gülenists are sacrificed, the AKP’s saw will stop and no one else will be hurt from then on? Are you sure?

If so, why have the Kemalists, nationalists, secularist liberals, conservatives and so on suffered all through the past decade from a massive campaign of alienation, if they do not land directly in the Silivri concentration camp?

The neighborhood is rather confused.