June 1, 2015

You’ll be worse than an oppressor

Ekrem Dumanlı

Dear people of this beautiful country! Look to your conscience and answer this question: Is there oppression in this country? Do not allow your political position to influence you and your assumptions, leave your assumptions aside and let us seek an answer to this question.

Let us discuss concrete developments. Let us be empathetic to the oppressed when looking at the sad side of the story. Let us feel like the oppressed, because the oppressor never admits what they did. Without being taken hostage by the “but” clauses, let us consider where this country has come to.

Let us look at how the victims of the past have become the oppressors of the present. And let us not submit to the oppression, regardless of who commits it because consent to oppression is also oppression.

Bank Asya has been confiscated. Why? It appears that the Constitution and the laws have been violated for revenge. Those who think that something wrong has been done should seek legal remedies to settle the dispute. Those who are committed to taking revenge for something are oppressors. Crime is an individual offense under both Islamic and universal law. With the revenge operation against Bank Asya, businessmen, account holders and those who would like to do interest-free business have been oppressed. And those who consent to this oppression have become worse than the oppressors.

Not just institutions are subjected to this oppression.

An old tea producer protested, claiming discrimination against him because the relevant state institution did not buy his product. He says he voted for the ruling party twice, but would never do so again. Have you ever considered why he is reacting so fiercely?

They have severely beaten business owners who have refused to shake hands with an AK Party deputy in the election campaign. Did not the incident where the hairdresser was brutalized affect you? Do you not remember the young bureaucrat who kicked a protester on the ground after the Soma disaster when looking at this heinous case? Do you also not remember the mentality that fired a doctor just because her husband was arrested because of his decision as a judge? Do you now understand that those who argued they were oppressed in the past have become brutalizers and oppressors?

How can you reconcile the attitude of the government? The attitude that relied on the principle of the individuality of the criminal act in the case of expensive watches, monies stashed in shoeboxes and precious metals smuggled in aircraft, and further ensured the suspension of the legal case regarding the police officers, prosecutors, judges and others who fought against corruption? The people now believe that the thieves are respected whereas the police officers are sent to jail. Is there any explanation for this double standard?

People have been illegally taken under detention by relying on the clause of reasonable doubt in Manisa, Konya and Malatya. Innocent people are mistreated and placed under arrest because of their philanthropic activities. The situation has become so grave that even the deputy prime minister reacted to this. But while all these happened and law was violated, nobody asked this question: “What are you doing? We are brutalizing innocent people by means of the violence we were subjected to before.”

A total of 301 miners died because of a lack of proper measures. Where is justice and accountability? Another 18 miners died underwater in Ermenek and the mother of one of those miners asked this question: “My son could not swim, what did he do under the water?” Was anything done to address this question? Private study houses are being shut down for personal ambition. But there are still exams -- rich people will find a solution, but how about the poor? Thousands of police officers were jailed, reshuffled or removed from their positions, and innocent people were brutalized and deprived of their right to defend themselves. Did not the suffering of these people and their families touch you? Students of the police academies were expelled because of a doubt… the faded hopes of them and their parents, the unfulfilled dreams…

The police detained innocent people who have never been involved in a violent incident in their lives in Manisa, and the pro-government media reported these arrests as terror operations. While all this was happening, a philanthropist in the city said: “I am knitting sweaters and cardigans and then selling them to donate the money. If this is terror activity, they should also take me.” Did not this affect our hearts?

There is no need to cite other examples. Dear people! Oppression is something that the pharaohs, Nimrud and Yazid could do. And believe me, those who consent to oppression are no better than the oppressors.

Those who do not live by their principles and beliefs

There is something terribly flawed in how the holders of power approach the world. They assume that they have the right to lead a luxurious life and make a huge amount of money just because they are in public service. It is really necessary to look at the ongoing discussions on the Ak Saray presidential palace and the Religious Affairs Directorate.

Is it reasonable to build huge palaces for the image of the state? They have to find an answer to this question from the modern state approach or the Islamic perspective. In modern states, prestige is not measured by huge palaces. You are not a king, so there is no need for a palace. You are popularly elected; therefore, you are responsible to the people. In modern democracies, those who spend a huge amount of money to build a palace are held accountable. But who does this? The individuals who pay taxes and the civilian structures they form. There are also state institutions responsible for checking elected figures within the state in a regular democracy. Parliament is one of them. You cannot just spend whenever and whatever you want.

It is also obvious that extravagance is forbidden under Islamic references as well. There is no single Islamic provision or precept that justifies luxury, glamour and extravagance. Quite the contrary, the Prophet Muhammad promoted a modest life and discouraged a luxurious life. Islamic sources present plenty of examples of this tendency.

Arguing that our ancestors in Ottoman times lived in glorious palaces by manipulating imagined praises of the Ottoman state stems from a lack of knowledge or the need to justify wrongdoing. The shift from simplicity to glamour in the Ottoman palace coincides with the decline of the state.

Islam forbids the excessive use of water in the performance of ablutions even alongside a river and strongly condemns extravagance. The arrogant transformation of those who have become extremely rich undermines the sense of social justice enshrined in Islamic principles. Those who are brave enough would not seek to justify their weakness by referring to Islamic history; instead, they confess their weakness. There is one cardinal rule that fits well in such situations: if you do not live by your beliefs, you start to believe what you live by.

Are all journalists terrorists?

Terror charges were lodged against Cumhuriyet daily Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar. Why? Because Cumhuriyet published photos of the contents of the trucks sponsored by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). The photos confirm the commission of international crimes. It is argued that the trucks carrying weapons were sent to Syria. Now everybody is asking this question: Government figures previously argued that humanitarian aid was being transported in these trucks; are these statements untrue? Which one is a crime: transporting weapons without legal grounds or publishing the proof of this transportation? Now the office of the prosecutor has banned the publication of these reports and is pressuring the Cumhuriyet daily. But who decides what should remain confidential?

Accusing journalists of terrorism has become routine. The same accusation was directed recently against Hürriyet daily Editor-in-Chief Sedat Ergin. A person asked for his arrest based on a report on the Internet. In election rallies, the president and the prime minister criticized Hürriyet for the same reason. The pro-government media has been terrorizing the whole country with provocative reports linking the Doğan media group to terror.

These are the journalists who have been accused of making propaganda in favor of a terror organization this week alone: Mirgün Cabas, Koray Çalışkan, Banu Güven, Pelin Batu, Nazlı Ilıcak, Ceyda Karan, Arzu Yıldız, Asım Yıldırım, Ferhat Tunç, Barış Atay, Önder Aytaç, Emre Uslu…

The process that started with Hidayet Karaca and me now includes others. I am afraid that almost all journalists will face terror charges. Despite this horrible fact, the government still defines Turkey as the country with the world's most pluralistic and free media. Well, maybe the best thing for the pro-government media to do is to declare that all journalists are terrorists and further disgrace this beautiful country.

Published on Today's Zaman, 01 June 2015, Monday