The pope has presented the Justice and Development Party (AKP) with a golden opportunity. You should not be surprised if the Erdoğan-Davutoğlu pair go on to inflate the recent hot debate on the tragic deaths of about 800,000 Armenian civilians because of the brutal acts of the Committee of Union and Progress officials and their civilian co-perpetrators.
The pope has referred to these tragic events that paved the way for the evaporation of the Armenians from the lands that they had inhabited for many hundreds of years as genocide. The Erdoğan-Davutoğlu pair reacted very harshly. One of their ulterior motives is to mobilize their voters before the elections once again on the basis of their national and religious emotions.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been very skillful at this game. He has done it repeatedly. The Islamophobic former hegemons of Turkey, the Kemalists, have given him plenty of opportunities. When they stupidly banned headscarved women from entering universities and closed down Islamist parties, Erdoğan declared himself as the champion of oppressed Islam. If economic success is the main reason why his vote increased to 47 percent in 2007 from 34 percent in 2002, the Kemalists' attack on public manifestations of Islam was the second main reason. Whenever the idiots attacked Erdoğan's religiosity, his headscarved wife, praying bureaucrats and so on, Erdoğan always scored goals.
Nevertheless, the Kemalists are first and foremost weaker and secondly wiser. The army has learnt to be calm on political issues and the Republican People's Party (CHP) has been transforming its Kemalist ideology to a social democratic one under the leadership of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Thus, whenever Erdoğan tries to create a position in which he wants the secularists to attack Islam, Kılıçdaroğlu does not fall into the trap.
The last time Erdoğan used Islam to cover his wrong deeds, smokescreen his illegal acts and polarize society to fortify his electoral support was during the Gezi events. He was determined to corrupt the true environmentalist, anti-corrupt and pro-pluralism nature of the Gezi events and tried to present them as an attack against the leader of the Muslim world. He kept repeating the lie that the protesters consumed alcohol in a mosque and that they attacked his “headscarved sister.” He was very successful; his dropping votes started increasing again because the conservative sections of society believed his fabricated narrative, which included fantasies such as Jews, the EU, the US, businesspeople and so on all being against the promised role of the Muslim world.
Then, he had to face the Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 corruption investigations. He developed his Gezi narrative and firmly argued that shadowy international forces used the secularists during Gezi to topple his government and that this time they were using the ostensibly Muslim-looking Hizmet movement, which is actually a tool of the CIA and Mossad, to topple him. At one stage, about 40 percent of Turkish voters believed this and most of them were AKP voters.
But after one and half years of using the entire state power against the movement, he has not been able to prove his accusations that Hizmet is a CIA-Mossad puppet, Fethullah Gülen is a leader of a terrorist organization and that the movement's participants are corrupt. His intelligence organization has been searching everything but has not been able to find a shred of evidence to support these ridiculous claims. Their solution is to fabricate the evidence. But they are so stupid that even Erdoğan's true believers did not believe in the Israeli-Gülen-CHP conspiracy to assassinate Erdoğan's daughter, even though the so-called evidence was published on the front pages of several Erdoğanist newspapers. Now, it has become impossible to mobilize voters by using the “parallel state” accusation. He and his mentee, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, have to find a new enemy: It is the crusaders. Erdoğan hinted at this when responding to the pope. He said something like, “The pope has attacked us, just like they did in the past.” He was not blunt enough to say the word “crusader” but this is what he was trying to describe.
Now, this is what he will do: He will ask his pollsters to ask some questions on this pope-crusader issue and if he sees that this debate will bring him votes, you must be ready to listen to the harangues of postmodern 'Saladin' the anti-crusader for two months!
Published on Today's Zaman, 15 April 2015, Wednesday