We’re winning over ‘parallels’: President Erdoğan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during an award ceremony of TÜBİTAK at the presidential palace in Ankara on Dec 24. AA PhotoTurkish President Recep Tayyip has declared that his government is winning its battle over the Fethullah Gülen community, while vowing to continue efforts to eradicate members of what he calls the “parallel structure” from the bureaucracy and social life.
“Turkey has won its struggle against the parallel structure,” Erdoğan said, referring to Gülen’s followers, whom the government accuses of forming an organization in the Turkish bureaucracy and the police.
“And with God’s permission, it will continue to win,” he added.
“This was a struggle for freedom and it was an important obstacle in front of us. Now it has been revealed. By overcoming it, politics, the economy, foreign policy, social life, as well as education and science, have a clearer path,” Erdoğan said in an address while distributing science awards in a ceremony at the presidency and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK).
The president’s remarks came at a time when the struggle between the government and the Gülen community has intensified following the Dec. 14 operation against the two most important media groups belonging to the religious group. Both Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have vowed that their fight will continue until the threat posed by the group is eliminated.
One of the key institutions the parallel group captured in recent years was TÜBİTAK, Erdoğan said: “Our intention was to support the TÜBİTAK and to increase the quality of science. But what happened? An undercover structure has grown clandestinely within TÜBİTAK and nearly captured its body and started to serve for purposes.”
Agents of the parallel structure within TÜBİTAK began to wiretap the president, the prime minister, the chief of General Staff and other top officials with high-tech devices it created before leaking the content of their communications to other countries’ secret services, Erdoğan said.
“It’s not only treason but also immorality. Not only treason and immorality toward their country but also toward science and scientists,” Erdoğan said.
‘History that lies’
On the day of the distribution of the scientific awards, Erdoğan also recalled earlier statements on the successes of Muslim scholars of the past that was sparked after he argued Muslim sailors discovered the American continent some 300 years before Columbus.
“When I said Muslims reached America, they raised hell. But the works [the books] are there. Of course, the youth of this country can mock this notion due to a complex, instead of doing the research. We were taught a history that lies,” he said. He previously mentioned Turkish Professor Fuat Sezgin’s books as the source of the claim.
“What we need is not an inferiority complex against the West but the self-confidence left to us by our history and ancestors. What we need is not to copy and to follow [the West] but to move in line with the divine gift our geography pledges us,” he said.
His claim invited widespread mockery and derision from both international public opinion and many Turks.
Erdoğan critical against Atatürk’s alphabet reform
One of the obstacles impeding an improvement of the quality of science in Turkey is the language, Erdoğan said, criticizing Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s alphabet reform in 1927 that introduced an alphabet consisting of Latin letters.
“Although we had a very rich [Ottoman] language that was highly convenient for doing and producing science, we woke up one day and we realized that it was gone,” he said, adding that the introduction of the new alphabet obliged Turkey to teach and learn science in foreign languages and foreign concepts.
“People were forced to forget thousands of words and concepts as they were removed from the dictionaries,” he said, arguing it was not possible to study philosophy with the current vocabulary of Turkish. “You will either rely on Ottoman words or concepts from French, English or German. But we have to overcome all of these problems.”