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Abdulhamid on one side and Enver Pasha on the other!

By Ergun Babahan, column on ArtiGercek

Statements of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan within AKP and of Fethullah Gülen within Cemaat were perceived as law. The followers of both Erdoğan and Gülen did not show the courage to question the ideas put forth or the paths followed by the duo.

Indeed we already knew it from our history. Although we were bitten once, we did not shy away on the second time. We were so much blinded with the story of the European Union as we were tired of the military tutelage and consumed of the extrajudicial killings. They achieved to deceive us all by portraying themselves as conservative democrats. We did not realize that those who are Muslims themselves will become democrats only to themselves.

Abdulhamid became a Sultan by promising to pay respects to the Parliament as Young Turks came to the power through the Parliament system. Even in that era, there were people who believed that along with a contemporary constitution a governing body respectful to the law would come to the power. Armenians, Greeks and Muslims poured into the streets hand in hand, celebrating the declaration of 2nd Constitution. A new opportunity arose to set the equality among everyone as well as to establish the checks and balances on the power of Sultan by Parliament elected by the public.

Subordinates from any religion or ethnicity witnessing the developments in Europe were trying hard to get rid of the oppressive regime under the authoritarian leader. And of course among them were the intellectuals, the educated and those who had been in Europe.

Unfortunately, this country is a geographic place where those in power does exactly the opposite of what they say. At the first opportunity, both Abdulhamid and the leaders of The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) took steps to avoid any auditing on their executive decisions as well as to shape public into the vision of theirs.

History does not hide any secrets.

It was right in front of us with thousands of books analyzing the events…

How did we get blinded?

As I mentioned, we were mistaken with the story of European Union as the most convincing element. We believed from the bottom of our hearts that the path to the Union was being blocked by the Army and that once the door is opened to the Union, it would never be shut on us. Erdoğan’s faith on this path faded away very quickly due to the attitude of European countries, especially that of Germany and France. Towards the end of the second AKP term, he realized that due to its Muslim identity, Turkey would be never granted the membership to EU.  

He was using the card of the Shangai Five in order to put pressure on European countries and to get more chapters of the ascension process opened.

Second biggest disaster was that AKP government was partnering with Cemaat during these two terms. Right, the people of Cemaat were educated. Most of them completed their education in USA, were able to speak the language well, however they were not democrats. They did not belong to such a culture. Their immediate goals, more than democracy itself, were to increase their power and to reinforce their existence more within the State.

The consequence of their approach above in that sense was very well demonstrated when they began to put any opponent from the government and military bureaucracy into the same bucket at the time of Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials. Using the judicial system for other purposes were ongoing. Such an attitude of course enabled a justification and an encouragement to those seeking revenge.

The partnership between AKP and Cemaat where there is no strong democratic culture within and where a cult-like leadership is more prominent pave the way for Turkey to reach this point today.

Words of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan within AKP and of Fethullah Gülen within Cemaat were regarded as law. The followers of both Erdoğan and Gülen never showed the courage to question the ideas put forth or the paths followed by the duo. This attitude of the followers, I believe, is a result of the Islamic culture rather than a direct interpretation of Islam itself.

Okay they were so, why did not we see then…

We were in hurry…

We wanted to get rid of a military tutelage which got stronger and stronger since 1970s and wanted to be a European country. We strongly believed that we will become a country where every institution such as military, politics, judicial system and Parliament would find their own places and respect each other.

We convinced ourselves that the days of an authoritarian state, of the executions, of the extrajudicial killings on the streets and in the prisons are coming to an end.

It did not go in that direction unfortunately.

What happened in 1876 and 1908 repeated itself.

An era where Kurdish replaced Armenian and our educated people has to migrate to Europe or USA comes back again.

However, we have to keep our chins up. Even on the darkest day when I think we are going backwards, I always believe we are a step ahead of where we started. Even this dark period is going to pass away at some point and a new beginning where we will witness a long awaited democracy and justice system will resurface.

May be tomorrow or even sooner than that….


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