Turkey’s Struggle for Democracy


Huricihan Islamoglu

date de sortie



Sciences politiques

Turkey is barely emerging from an attempt at a coup of unprecedented barbarity. Equally unprecedented has been the spontaneous resistance to the coup by millions of ordinary people, who bodily tried to stop the military tanks from blocking the bridges over the Bosphorus and from taking over the parliament building and other key locations, even as soldiers shot at them, crushing them with tanks. By the morning of July 16, 240 people (excluding putschists) died and more than 2,000 were seriously wounded. Military jets bombed the national parliament, the high army command and the President’s palace, among other symbols of the country’s democracy and state. Jets flew low, terrorising the population, crashing windows of buildings in city centres in Istanbul and Ankara. For a moment it looked as if the country was caught in the grip of a civil war.

Notwithstanding, the people succeeded in defending their democracy, the parliament remained in session through the bombings. President Erdogan, Turkey’s first directly elected president, barely escaped death. Erdogan’s elimination had been a primary objective of the putschists who included hundreds of army commanders. Their failure to do so turned him into a national hero. Ever since, Erdogan has tried to bring together the leaders of various contending groups and political parties in parliament – except the leader of the Kurdish political party, HDP, or the Democratic Party of People, which could not distance itself from the PKK or Workers Party of Kurdistan and its terrorist activities since July 2015. He has tried to unite them against what is perceived to be the common threat, the Gulenist ‘Islamist’ messianic movement with all its trappings of a New Age religion, which is being held responsible for the coup attempt.


The leader of the movement, Fethullah Gulen, currently residing on a ranch in Pennsylvania, USA, claims to be the messiah, rejecting Islam’s prophet and defying Islamic fundamentalism. The movement, horizontally organized in cells and vertically linked to the leader through a hierarchy of ‘imams’, has penetrated key state institutions, such as the army, judiciary, police force, the bureaucracy, as well as businessmen’s organizations, media, trade unions, political parties, universities, and is finally threatening to take over the state.
To date, 16,000 people connected to Gulen have been arrested and 6,000 detained under a ‘state of emergency’; thousands more have either been suspended or dismissed from their positions in the army, bureaucracy, and universities.


Hence, Turkey now has the colossal task of mending, if not recreating, its key institutions, namely, the army, bureaucracy, most significantly, schools, and the examination system for admittance to these institutions, the judicial system and academia. Can this signal a new beginning? At the rally for ‘Democracy and its Martyrs’ on Sunday, August 6, a recurring leitmotif was that of a new war of independence, of liberation from the ‘foreign yoke’, similar to the one undertaken by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at the conclusion of World War I following the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the country’s occupation by European powers. Nearly 5 million people who attended the rally responded with a resounding ‘No ‘when Erdogan asked: ‘Do you want to be enslaved and humiliated?’ A defensive tone, often expressed in religious terms, prevailed; it was reinforced by a sense of rejection and betrayal by the West.


The West and Turkish secular elites /…/ Read more here




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