September 9, 2014

'Black men's credit cards are not accepted here'

Orhan Kemal Cengiz

All the infringements of freedom of the press, all the journalists who have been sacked just because they made governmental circles angry, all the prosecutors and police officers who were dispersed all over the country just because they dared to launch an investigation into the alleged corruption and bribery of ministers and their children and all sorts of other things; I put them aside.

The above-mentioned facts are just indicators of how the system is becoming more and more authoritarian, but the following is a sign of fascistic tendencies. And I saw it on Twitter the other day.

Apparently, the photo was taken by a customer who was just buying something in a store. It is a placard at the entrance of the store, and there is this sentence on it: "Due to a technical error, we are unable to conduct sales with Bank Asya credit cards."

If you do not know what Bank Asya is and how it has been targeted by the government, you might underestimate the unmistakable and arrogant discriminatory sentiment behind this “announcement.”

For some time now, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been doing everything in his power to make this bank go bankrupt. He sees this bank as one of the financial sources of the Fethullah Gülen movement, and he just wants to finish it. And he is doing this in front of the public's eyes. He has ordered public institutions to withdraw all of their money overnight; he has ordered financial institutions to cancel their agreements with the bank to collect money on their behalf and so on.

The above-mentioned announcement was made by the Çetinkaya clothing chain stores, whose owners have very strong connections to Erdoğan. In the very specific conditions of Turkey right now, this sign is the equivalent of “no negroes allowed” in this shop. And these “negroes” happen to be people who are affiliated with the Gülen movement.

They are saying to Bank Asya customers, “Your credit card cannot buy anything here.” And when they do this, they are acting in line with Erdoğan's policy. They are sure that no one, no official will come to their store and warn them to take this sign down, saying that you are making an unfair statement about a bank whose shares are sold in the stock exchange.

What I found extremely dangerous here is this: A well-known company has started a passive-aggressive assault on a bank just to seem nice to governmental circles. And they are so comfortable about making such a discriminatory statement. A government policy has found its echo among the business circles. When the state and private citizens start to walk hand-in-hand to attack individual citizens, then we should all be alarmed. The state and individuals cooperating in discriminatory policies, assaulting the rights of others, is a sign of fascistic tendencies on the horizon.

In Turkey, we have a shameful history of what state and individual cooperation is capable of doing to destroy others' rights. We just passed the anniversary of Sept. 6-7, 1955, when İstanbul's non-Muslims fell victim to pogroms and looting. And today the state is showing Bank Asya as a target to be looted.

Published on Today's Zaman, 09 September 2014, Tuesday

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