Thursday, March 20, 2008

"A Second Revolution?"

In recent days, I have been emailed various messages from people who are enthused by the AKP's closing. Intrigued by an image I continue to see on blogs and facebook groups set up by AKP detractors, I am left wondering just how sinister a force does AKP represent in some people's minds. The image is of a lightbulb cloaked in a burqa (the lightbulb is an AKP symbol). It seems to represent perfectly the fears that many have that AKP is closeting an Islamic agenda to turn Turkey into an Islamic state along the lines of Iran. Indeed, this fear is so strong that one young woman informed me the other day that she thought Turkey was in need of another revolution. We had been talking of Atatürk and his role in building the Turkish state when she somewhat out-of-the-blue made this declaration. Turkey is on the edge of a slippery slope these detractors decry—the country needs something to happen to push it back to its safe plateau.

However, these detractors are themselves difficult to characterize and like so many of the people with whom I have talked, do not easily fall into the Manicheanism of the rubrics with which many approach Turkish political actors: Islamist, Kemalist, religionist, secularist, rightist, leftist, reformer, establishmentarian. The young woman who made the "second revolution" comment is also a devoted Muslim who does not use alcohol and has an interest in the history of Islam. Food for thought, indeed...

In the news today, AKP received support from MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli who said yesterday that the indictment is irreponsible and jeopardizes Turkey's political future. "This case of closure will bring with it deep political consequences. Turkey, which has focused on the case opened to shut down the AK Party in the last few days, has entered a turbulent period. Such high tension in the society will deeply influence our state and public. We may even go through a political crisis. We may undergo an atmosphere of chaos whose consequences might be hard to handle," Bahçeli said. It should be noted that Bahçeli was among those who praised the closure case against DTP. Bahçeli says the cases are different in that DTP was engaged in separatist activities and tied to the PKK.

Meanwhile, CHP leader Deniz Baykal approved of the indictment despite prefacing his remarks with a history of his own's party closure. He concurred that AKP had violated the tenets of secularism essential to the protection of Turkey's secular state and that a judicial solution was appropriate: "The judiciary says there is a conflict. Nobody can twist this. There is no clash between law and national will or between law and democracy. There is a clash between law and politics. This should not be misunderstood. What underlies this conflict is the ban on mixing religion with politics."

AKP leaders have expressed that they are preparing for all possibilities, including the shutdown of the party.

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