The Gezi protests will always be remembered as a turning point in the political history of Turkey. It was encouraging to note that our youths expressed their opinion in a democratic manner.
However, certain elements were on the prowl to hijack the protests to further their agendas. For instance, Marxists were bracing for a communist revolt and other anti-government groups inspired by the “Arab Spring” wanted to create anarchy by using non-democratic means to topple a democratic disposition. They miserably failed in doing so, however, their voices have been echoing ever since.
Democracies require oppositions; opposition is necessary to strengthen and develop democracy and governments need to be criticized and face protests. This is a sign of pluralism, which is beneficial to society. In this context, it would not be wrong to admit that the government actually benefited from the Gezi episode.
The problem arises when opposition movements start harboring sinister designs of uprooting the government through bloody uprisings or coups. In case of Turkey, such elements will never succeed.
Such things are not new to Turkey, which has already faced a number of coups; a terror organization installed within the state and is now escaping the unwelcome outcomes of the Feb. 28 coup plot case through democratic means. It will never allow repetition of the past mistakes.
The enmity of such groups has once again surfaced in recent weeks during which they tried to drive a wedge between the government and the Gulen Movement, which is a transnational religious and social movement led by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen. It is active in education with private schools in over 140 countries.
Some groups sought to incite a row between the government and the movement over official decision to convert Gulen’s prep-schools into private schools.
Unscrupulous elements tried their level best to pit the two parties against each other. Interestingly, Fethullah Hodja’s is not the type of person who would indulge in dirty politics and the Justice and Progress Party (AKP) does not harbor any ill feelings toward the movement.
Ever since Gezi, certain elements are always looking for issues to further their nefarious designs. The government’s decision gave them a chance to pit two important forces against one another so as to weaken them both and eventually Turkey. In the wake of the row, we urged both sides to adopt a policy of reconciliation as Muslims. Fortunately, both sides responded in a positive manner. And finally thaw set in with the statement of Fethullah Hodja: “There can be no enmity between us and the administration.” And interestingly enough, at just that point a major graft scandal jolted Turkey.
This operation, the details of which have been widely covered by the world media, is one of the largest-ever conducted in Turkey. The operation was carried out on the orders from the Istanbul deputy chief prosecutor’s office and resulted in the detention of 52 people, including sons of ministers, bureaucrats and business figures, on charges of corruption.
Soon after the operation, it was alleged that supporters of the Gulen Movement had masterminded the operation. It was once again an attempt to create unrest. However, efforts made by this writer and members of the movement thwarted the evil designs of hate mongers.
The AKP has undoubtedly freed Turkey from criminal gangs and military takeovers. Over the last 11 years, it has strengthened Turkey both economically and politically.
Regarding the operation in question, following points must be taken into consideration:
• As per international laws a person is innocent until a court decides otherwise. Therefore, nobody has yet been convicted. Hasty comments reveal an attitude incompatible with the democratic norms.
• Another important principle in international law is that guilt lies with the person who actually commits the crime. It is legally impossible to hold the family or the government responsible for a crime because of the individual who committed it.
• Turkish government spokesman Arinç severely criticized smear campaigns, saying,”Nobody must expect our government to support corruption.” That is a very proper attitude. Attaching no credence to covert techniques such as smear campaigns but a clampdown on corruption will only strengthen the government.
• The operation in question is a major rebuttal to those people with ulterior motives in both the Turkish and world press who have accused Prime Minister Erdogan of being a “dictator” ever since the Gezi protests. There can no longer be any question of accusing Erdogan of being a dictator in a country in which a secret operation was carried out; even the children of ministers were detained. This is a significant evidence of how strongly democracy functions in Turkey.
There will always be those seeking to take advantage of climates of uncertainty; but in a country such as Turkey, a state of law with a settled democracy and power of faith, matters will always be settled through judicial and legal measures, through truth and good governance. It is important for Turkey — and the country has certainly had a lively 2013 — to evaluate these events in a calm and moderate manner. If a crime is identified, lawful exposure of the guilty will not affect the course of a government that has registered, and is still achieving, successes in many spheres of life. Those who dream of using this as a pretext for a non-democratic change of regime will, as always, fail because Turkey has once again shown what a strong democracy it is.
- The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.