Rasim Ozan Kütahyalı *
Let me start by highlighting a fundamental fact: The Turkish military guardianship regime cannot possibly change without the full support and leadership of religious people.
In fact, liberals, left-wingers, Kurds and non-Muslims in this country have been aware of this fact for a while. This is not new information for them, but due to the influence of old habits, they provide sterile and polished statements in their political analyses.
Liberal and left-wing intellectuals should note that the religious forces opposing the military guardianship regime today are trying to purify the poison injected into them by this regime. This is not an easy task. For Islamic circles, the easy part is struggling against the neo-nationalist-Kemalist bloc; there is already a state of social awareness about this matter. However, it is not easy to deal with certain Islamic movements or groups manipulated by a Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)-style nationalism or conservatism that focuses on enmity towards Christianity and Judaism and forces them to submit to the military. These movements seek to influence Islamic circles through their own jargon and discourse. They are trying to force them to submit to the military regime by relying on ambiguous and diluted policies. And it is very likely that they will be successful in deceiving religious people as they have been for many years poisoned by nationalism and xenophobia. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the elites of the Fethullah Gülen movement are trying to purge this sphere from these poisonous contaminants that have been systematically injected by the military guardianship regime in an attempt to go back to the original state in this sphere. This is a difficult task, but for the future of Turkey, liberals and pro-freedom left-wingers should be aware of the importance of this struggle. If these liberals and left-wingers fail to appreciate this painful change within Islamic circles, they will keep making unoriginal and polished analyses that bear no significance and meaning for the process of change in Turkey. In this case, these analyses will make no contribution to the transformation of this country. Without the extensive support of religious people, liberal and democrat theses and arguments will remain marginal with no meaning at all, and Kurds and Alevis will face serious acts of discrimination. On the other hand, if they tend towards pursuing right-wing and pro-state policies, the religious people of this country will have to submit to the military again. For this reason, if an authentic democratic transformation is desired in Turkey, I believe this should be taken into consideration.
A few examples to demonstrate
Because my paper is widely read by liberal and leftist readers, I would like to give a few examples that would appeal to them. For instance, an interesting and yet influential leader of a religious community has made some strange remarks about the Fethullah Gülen movement. He said: “It is religiously prohibited to watch the serials broadcast on their TV stations. Those who do this become infidels. Recently [in one of these serials], a kid was upset because his non-Muslim neighbor died. Then he went to his mother, who wears a headscarf, asking her: ‘Mom, our neighbor was a good man but not a Muslim. Will he not go to Heaven?’ The mom says in response, ‘Well, Allah will reward every good action.’ What a disgrace! You would rather watch a belly dancer than watch this nonsense.”
This symbolic example tells a lot about the change within Islamic circles. On the one hand, we have a mindset determined to promote an understanding of Islam that is embracing all of humanity and that through TV, radio and other media seeks to address the poisonous impact of nationalist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic sentiments inflicted by the state by using a constructive language and method. On the other hand, we also have an alternative mindset and group eager to present itself as an Islamic movement which relies on an Islamic discourse to protect the former repressive anti-Semitic and pro-state approach as singled out and promoted by the military guardianship regime. This is a struggle carried on over the same social ground. In this fight and struggle, the remarks and discourse of liberals and left-wingers as outsiders does not matter. Besides, if this is a struggle between the military guardianship and nationalism and those opposed to this regime, that this struggle is been carried on with references to native and Islamic sensitivities and precepts should be considered fairly significant. As Taraf, we have to understand this; in fact, we should understand this best.
The same also applies to criticism of the AK Party suggesting that it is transforming into another MHP. Taking a deeper look at the subject matter will save us from making Western-style sterile and polished analyses. I will cover this in another column. We should recall that no matter what we, liberals and leftists, have done, we would not have been able to make sure that the psychopaths of the military who burned Kurds to death and summarily executed people in the streets were brought to justice. If the alliance with religious people in the lead, and who ensured that these people are now facing trial, is broken, this time the military guardianship will not force us to submit. This time it will take measure for complete destruction.
Published on Today's Zaman, 26 May 2011, Thursday
* Original piece by Rasim Ozan Kütahyalı was published in Turkish in Taraf daily on May 14.