Erdogan is a dictator, coup was Turkey's hope for democracy

Tufail Ahmad
Tufail AhmadJul 21, 2016 | 14:15

Erdogan is a dictator, coup was Turkey's hope for democracy

On July 15-16, as a military-led coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey unfolded, journalists, politicians, activists and people came out strongly in his support globally.

An Indian journalist announced: coup cannot be an option. There are three problems with this argument.

One, it assumes that the government in power is democratic. This assumption prevails especially among people who live in liberty, notably in vibrant democracies like India, the US and others.

Two, it assumes that elections themselves mean democracy.

Three, it also assumes that coups are unethical irrespective of the nature of the regimes against which they are directed.

Kim and other cases

Let's take the third point first.

In North Korea, 25 million people live under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-un, unfree to open a shop, elect a leader or publish a newspaper.

In Saudi Arabia, people cannot elect a ruler and women are subjugated.

The regimes in North Korea, Saudi Arabia or Cuba do not trust their people; consequently, power is transferred only to a son or brother.

Similarly, only the communist party is permitted to rule in China, where 1.35 billion people endure a range of unfreedoms.

For example, they cannot openly practise their religion, start a newspaper, criticise politicians, or establish a political party.

So, a military coup in China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba or North Korea can be morally legitimate if there is a promise of multiparty elections, individual liberty, free press and full democracy.

This brings us to the second point: elections are just one pillar of democracy.

However, terrorist groups like Hamas in Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and hidden jihadists like Erdogan have figured out that they can use elections as a means to acquire power and change the system.

North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un. (Reuters)

During the so-called peace negotiations involving US officials, the Afghan Taliban too flirted with this idea to use elections to capture power and to ensure Talibanisation of Afghanistan. But elections alone are not democracy.

We are civilised because we believe in democracy whose essential features include free press, individual liberty, multiparty elections, women's equality, independent judiciary, and rule of law based on man-made laws.

On these parameters, the Erdogan government is mutilating people's freedoms - not just to retain power but to shape Turkey in an ideological way to transform it into a Sunni Iran in the next few decades.

Living in Erdo-cracy

To return to the first point: is Erdogan's government democratic? To answer, one must look at the Turkish president's ideological policies.

Erdogan has been in power since 2003, serving first as the prime minister and then as the president from 2014.

After he came to power, Turkey lifted rules banning women from wearing headscarves in the country's state institutions.

In 2014, it permitted girls as young as ten to wear scarf in schools. Erdogan's policies are directed at transforming Turkey into a Sharia-compliant state.

Erdogan declared that women cannot be equal to men, saying manual work is against the "delicate nature" of women.

He urged women to have at least three children, saying: "(Islam) has defined a position for women: motherhood.

"He advocated alcohol-free zones and heavily cracked down on the press. Like the Taliban, Erdogan objected to the use of the term "moderate Islam" noting: "Islam cannot be classified as moderate or not."

He is building a $100-million mega mosque near Washington, the money he could use to educate 1,000 Turkish girls in engineering.

Islamism in action

Emboldened by Erdoganism, a school in Antalya asked male students to monitor female students who wore skirts.

Nurettin Yildiz, apro-Erdogan intellectual, said, "A seven-year-old girl can be married."

For Erdoganism, Islam matters, not the people. Erdogan seeks to revive the Ottoman Caliphate.

In 2015, the then Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Paris, "Islam, from Andalusia to the Ottoman Empire, is the most indigenous element of this [European] continent."

Like jihadists, Erdogan does not believe in man-made laws. To quote him, "Sovereignty unconditionally and always belongs to Allah."

Once, Erdogan read a poem, "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers."

In Turkey, Erdoganism is seen as Islamism.

To expand the scope of Islamism after the failed coup, Erdogan ordered 1,577 deans of universities to resign, according to journalist Isobel Finkel.

To advance the Islamist agenda, Erdogan is on a massive purge. He dismissed 2,745 judges including members of Turkey's highest judiciary board. He cancelled the licences of 21,000 private school teachers.

Around 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or removed.

Erdogan is just another authoritarian ruler, and the coup failed to his benefit because the military, with past records of coups, lacks legitimacy.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: July 21, 2016 | 14:15
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy