By Halil Karaveli
October 16th, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
Turkey’s democrats, leftists and minorities have always been prey to the sinister machinations of the multi-tentacle Leviathan that is in charge of the country. Arrayed against them have been authoritarian right wing governments, the military and the deep state. The Ankara massacre is a reminder of who the victimized “others” in Turkey really are. It is also a reminder that the course of modern Turkish history has more than anything else been shaped by a sustained effort to stamp out any kind of challenge from the left. The deep reservoir of popular, ultraconservative, ultranationalist resentment has continued to yield politically instrumental mass murderers. It has ensured that fascism – whether in Kemalist or Islamic disguise – has always prevailed in Turkey.
By Gareth H. Jenkins
October 16th, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
The near simultaneous double suicide bombings that killed at least 105 participants in a peace rally in Ankara on October 10 were the worst terrorist attack in Turkish history. Although no organization has yet claimed responsibility, the atrocity is believed to have been perpetrated by Turkish nationals sympathetic to the Islamic State.
By Svante Cornell
October 9th, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
Since 2010, the State Directorate for Religious Affairs has risen in prominence. Diyanet’s budget has quadrupled under the AKP, and the Directorate now issues fatwas on demand, as well as wading into political issues and backing up the AKP position. Moreover, Diyanet has drastically increased its provision of Quran courses for students of all ages. The Diyanet, originally created by the Turkish state to exercise oversight over religious affairs, is now firmly under the control of President Erdoğan, and has turned into a supersized government bureaucracy for the promotion of Sunni Islam.
Levent Gültekin, who is a former Islamist and the author of a recent, bestselling book on the moral “defeat” of political Islam in power in Turkey, writes on the Diken news site that the first thing that comes to our mind when we think about the Islamic world is: death. We are not even afraid of saying, as we have done after the accident in which nearly one thousand pilgrims were killed, “How nice it was that these blessed people died at a blessed time, at a blessed place”! The religious understanding that prevails in the Islamic world is one that exults not in life, but death. It is because this religious understanding prevails that Muslims are utterly incapable of building cities that you can live in; it is because they have surrendered to this understanding that they do not bother to work on how to live a better life. In reality, as Muslims we are the living dead. That is because our lives have no value in these lands. And because death is valued more, things such as serenity, ethics, friendship, courtesy, knowledge, being principled – in short, to live like a human being – have no value. We cannot nourish any hope that we are ever going to be able to change this understanding, which prevents us from being like humans, and have it accepted by the Islamic world. So let us at least cease to preserve this religion – which is condemned to this understanding – as the focus of our lives.
Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak observes that Turkey’s societal tissue is multi-pieced. It is almost as if the “millet” system of the Ottomans, where different communities co-existed without ever being in contact with each other, continues in a different shape. The question now – and it is an urgent one – is whether we will finally be able to realize a historic revolution – “a grand, civilian, egalitarian civilization project” – that endeavors to build bridges between the different sections, communities and groups, many of which have been formed as a result of cultural differences. What the AKP has done during the last thirteen years is that it has empowered a societal section that had long been excluded, granting it its rights, securing its self-confidence, placing it next to the other section, as its equal. That has been a great egalitarian endeavor and it has to a large extent succeeded. But the AKP has not done what was expected from it next; it has not continued on to the second stage, embracing all the different sections in a common construction. Instead, it has emphasized its own values.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.