Some people I have talked to recently have started to ask the following question, which is also discussed on social media from time to time: Why is the Hizmet community still alone even though it is clearly on the right track?
Let me make an observation before answering this question. In a society where secular morality and democracy haven't taken root and the individual is weaker than the state and leading powers, people generally tend to side with the stronger camp. This is what has always happened in the past. The history of Islam is replete with examples of this. Ali was right, but Muawiyah was stronger so people took Muawiyah's side. Hasan and Husain were right, but Yazid was stronger. The majority took Yazid's side.
Prophet Moses was right, but Pharaoh was stronger. People told Moses, "O Moses, we know you are right, but it is Pharaoh who gives us food."
This applies to the community as well. Those who sided with the community when it was stronger no longer side with it when it is right. Therefore, it is very unlikely that people will support the community when Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is strong. As a matter of fact, if people had sided with the community, Erdoğan wouldn't have become so strong.
However, this “might is right” argument is not sufficient to explain the lack of popular support for the community. There are some special factors involved as well.
People cannot lend support to the community because they are afraid. The president openly hurls threats at the community and those who would side with them. Pro-Erdoğan police chiefs express their readiness to treat anyone who says “hello” to the community as a terrorist. Special courts have been established in an attempt to chastise community members. The country's intelligence authorities are working night and day to profile community members. Even children who might become a community member in the future are kicked out of kindergartens. Therefore, in this climate, there is nothing more natural than people staying away from the community.
Actually, I am amazed to see that many people continue to support the community despite the circumstances and ongoing witch hunt. Recently I attended the International Language and Culture Olympiads held in Washington, D.C. Although I don't have any rooted connection to the community, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) opted to treat me as its member because I have been criticizing the AKP for a long time, being a nuisance to Erdoğan and discussing National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan's failures. In this context, they made me the second suspect in a "terrorist organization" investigation. In any serious state, people would refrain from saying “hello” to such a person. But people who are close to the community rush to pose for a photo with me. Although I note that this may invite problems for them in future as the AKP may profile them and target them using public resources, they are not scared. They clearly stand next to the community. In this regard, it is amazing to see that the community still maintains its strength.
There may be two reasons for this. First, these people are dedicated to their cause. The second, and in my opinion the real reason, is that Erdoğan is like a paper tiger. No one takes the cases he ordered to be launched seriously. He has ordered the launch of an investigation describing the community as a terrorist organization, but his citizens do not take it seriously. If a legal process is not taken seriously and the prosecution's actions are mocked, saying, "Let them come and take me as well," the wall of fear has been torn down. Therefore, as Erdoğan's power has become meaningless and lacks essence, people continue to support the community.
We will continue to discuss this issue.
Published on Today's Zaman, 15 May 2015, Friday