Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Crimes of the AKP

The below column by Mustafa Akyol appears in today's Turkish Daily News.


I have been telling you that these people are crazy. And now they proved it beyond any doubt.

You must have heard what I am speaking about. Turkey’s chief prosecutor has just filed a case against the incumbent AKP (Justice and Development Party). He asks for the closure of the party and the banning of Prime Minister Erdoğan and his 70 top colleagues from politics. A political party which has just gained the votes of the 47 percent of the Turkish people is now under threat. Even President Abdullah Gül is on the list of the would-be banned politicians. Unbelievable but true!

For long we have feared military coup d'état’s in Turkey. That type of assault on democracy happened four times and left behind an executed prime minister, hundreds of imprisoned politicians, and thousands of tortured intellectuals and activists. But although the Leviathan that organized those military coups is very orthodox in its authoritarian ideology, it is not totally mindless. It, as Donald Rumsfeld once said in a different context, “has a brain – is continuously changing and adapting tactics.”

The Empire Goes Mad

The 21st century tactic is to stage coups via not the military but the judiciary. As I noted in my piece dated Jan. 24 and titled “The Empire Strikes Back (Via Juristocracy),” now the bureaucratic empire in Ankara attacks the representatives of the people with legal decisions, not armed battalions.

If you talk to them, they will proudly tell you that they are saving Turkey from Islamic fundamentalism. You have to be a secular fundamentalist – or hopelessly uninformed – to believe that. The AKP has proved to be a party committed to the democratization and liberalization of Turkey, a process which, naturally, includes the broadening of religious freedom. But that democratization and liberalization is the very thing that the empire fears from.

If you look at the “evidence” that the chief prosecutor presented to the Constitutional Court to blame the AKP, you will see how fake all this “Islamic fundamentalism” rhetoric is. The anti-secular “crimes” of AKP include:

- Making a constitutional amendment in order to allow university students to wear the headscarf. (Maddeningly enough, this bill was accepted in Parliament with the votes of not just the AKP’s deputies but also those of the Nationalist Movement Party [MHP], and the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society party.)

- Supplying free bus services for the student of the religious “imam-hatip” schools, which are nothing but state-sponsored modern high schools that teach some Islamic classes in addition to the standard secular education.

- Naming a park in Ankara after the deceased leader of a Sufi order.

- Not allowing the public display of a bikini advertisement.

- Employing headscarved doctors in public hospitals.

- Allowing one of the local administrators to issue a paper which has the criminal sentence, “May God have mercy on the souls of our colleagues who have passed away.” (The simple fact that he dared to mention God [“Allah” in Arabic and Turkish] in an official setting was considered as a crime.)

Yes, this is absolutely crazy. It is like defining the Republican Party in the United States as an “anti-secular threat” and asking for its closure based on facts such as that it has pro-life (anti-abortion) tendencies and that President Bush publicly said that his favorite philosopher is Jesus Christ.

The heart of the matter is that Turkey’s self-styled secularism is a fiercely anti-religious ideology akin to that of Marxist-Leninist tyrannies. And the AKP has been trying to turn Turkey into a democracy. That’s the party’s real “crime.”

A Shipwrecked Turkey?

Now what?.. We will see… The chief prosecutor’s file will be evaluated by the Constitutional Court, which is notoriously dominated by the ultra-secularists appointed by the previous president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer. Recently the same court cancelled a law which allowed foreign companies to buy real estate in Turkey. (Yes, the empire is against not just religion but also capitalism.) In that real estate decision, the ratio of the judges was 6 to 5, which was enough to cancel a law. But to close a party you need 7 votes (3/5th of the 11 members). And if 6 is the number of illiberal judges sitting there, that might not be enough to make an extremely illiberal decision such as closing down the AKP.

But what if the AKP really gets executed? To be sure, a party with a similar program will be formed soon and it will win the next elections. Meanwhile, though, the economy will be ruined, the EU process will be wrecked, and the hopes and dreams of millions of Turkish citizens will be crushed. That’s really the worst thing about tyrannies: You ultimately win your struggle against them. But, in the meantime, they give you hell.

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