Political Islam in Turkey has brought heavy harm on devout religious people in Turkey, Mehmet Ömer, Editor-in-Chief of Zaman Bulgaria, has said in an opinion piece for BGNES wire service.
Citing concepts developed by prominent scholars, he has also opined that the last few governments of Turkey have been applying in politics a mixture of Kemalism and Islam.
"Kemalism" is the name given to the ideology of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. While he has been much praised for creating a "secular" state, critics have accused him and his supporters of authoritarianism (and also suppression of minority and religious rights) that fuelled political turmoil in the decades following his death in 1938.
Ömer has commented on the developments in neighboring Turkey days after the government appointed a trustee at Zaman Media group, in compliance with an earlier court order, sparking protests in front of Zaman's offices and an outcry from human rights and press freedom organizations.
Zaman was closely linked to the Hizmet movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom President Erdogan has repeatedly accused of orchestrating a plot to topple him and the government.
After Bengütürk and IMC TV stopped their satellite broadcast, "the most influential media, with the highest circulation, such as Zaman newspaper" followed suit.
"The specialized court in Istanbul appointed an illegal trustee at Zaman's office on purely political grounds. All of this happened in breach of the Turkish constitution's Article 30, which prohibits the confiscation of media and their assets," Ömer wrote.
(Note. Article 30, in the section of "Protection of printing facilities", reads: "A printing house and its annexes, duly established as a press enterprise under law, and press equipment shall not be seized, confiscated, or barred from operation on the grounds of having been used in a crime.")
"Turkey, where rules of democracy and laws are systematically violated, once more witnessed one of the darkest days in its history. With the silencing of opposition media, the opposition in Turkey is being eliminated step by step."
"What is a paradox in this case is that the main ruling Party of Justice and Development [AKP] made its first steps in politics, protection of free speech has a vast presence in it program."
"Historically, the most tragic days for Turkish journalism is the period between 1957 and 1960, during the last years of governance of the Democratic party. Journalists were sent to prison there as well, access to paper for opposition newspapers was significantly cut as it was under state monopoly. Interference [of the state in media affairs] even reached a point where newspaper columns that had gone through censorship were sometimes published blank. Compared to present days, however, no confiscation of assets and property of media was in place, nor were media outlets closed down. There were no journalists dismissed upon an order by authorities either."
That President Erdogan is seeking to concentrate all the power in his hands, alongside "the fact he does not trust Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu whom he brought to this office himself", is "crystal clear", and he will do everything to fulfill his goal, Ömer notes.
"The situation in Turkey nowadays reminds of the early Republican period of one-party rule, the role of an authoritarian leader dominates. And there are attempts at institutionalizing this democracy in the form of a "Turkish-type" presidential republic".
Ömer quotes political scientist Ihsan Yilmaz as calling AKP a "Kemalo-Islamist" party aimed at raising "a new (religious) generation" through social engineering and the opportunities presented by state power, "as the Kemalists [did]."
AKP does not feel satisfied with just "marking the other ones", but also designates them as enemies or demonizes them," in the observations of Yilmaz.
Ömer points to the December 17, 2013 corruption scandal as the starting point of accusations hurled by the AKP at is opponents of being part of a "parallel state" and of purges at the state administration.
An economics professor, Mehmed Altan, is for his part quoted as saying that the present authorities "are maybe the last 'religious Kemalist' governance of the chaotically regime established after September 12, 1980", but with the aim of transforming the "Kemalist" into "religious" youth, and "raki into ayran".
Published on Novinite, 8 March 2016, Tuesday