Regime in Turkey under threat?

Those trying to cover their fight for having more unearned income from the regime are both confused and confusing. They write down the wrong notes in history, because they think that their delusions are real…

Regime in Turkey under threat?
By Ekrem Dumanlı, Today's Zaman

This is the question frequently asked by the foreign press. The process that began with the arrival of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in power for the first time on Nov. 3, 2002, has brought this question to the fore.

The AK Party's landslide victory in the July 22 elections raised the frequency of the question, as certain media corporations in Turkey persistently intimate that the regime is under threat.

Not only the press, but also the bureaucracy and the status quo argue for this hypothesis. Is there really a threat to the regime in Turkey?

That is, is the target of the AK Party, which has an Islamic past, to found a religious state and overthrow the secular regime? The answer to this question is unequivocally "no." Democracy and secularism in Turkey are not under any threat. Moreover, the AK Party, in power since the year 2002, doesn't have a secret agenda.

There is ample reason to answer "no" to the above question; I will briefly touch upon this here: An overwhelming majority of the Turkish people has embraced democracy and secularism as a whole.

They want the Turkish democracy to be transformed into a more pluralistic and more participative form. They want secularist practices to be interpreted in a more liberal manner, ridding this concept of the Jacobin mindset.

The suggestion that Turkey may become a second Iran is ludicrous, given that the demands and wishes of the Turkish people are crystal clear.

Turkey has turned toward the West with the AK Party. Significant reforms got under way in a very short time in efforts to join the European Union. Why would a government with a secret Islamic agenda be so keen on making inordinate efforts to enhance democracy in the country?

The Islam lived in Turkey still carries the indelible impressions of the millennium-old Sufi tradition. That is, the understanding of Islam in Turkey is one focused on the inner beauty and the wealth of the heart and one that is not involved enough in politics to bring up the question of a religious state.

Having coexisted for centuries with peoples from different religions and ethnic backgrounds, Muslim Turks don't think that a pluralist and participative regime runs counter to their beliefs and lifestyle. Why, then, is this caustic and scathing question always kept to the forefront?

The elite segment of society, crying foul and screaming that "the regime is in danger!" exploits secularism in order to conceal its real goals. In the process that began with Turgut Özal's arrival in power in 1983, radical changes occurred in the distribution of capital.

The number of wealthy people was so small until Özal. These certain families, who couldn't number more than 10, consisted of people educated in private schools or in Europe and who wouldn't mix with common people.

The socioeconomic change realized in Turkey after 1983 led to advantages for medium-size enterprises.

Thanks to the credits allotted to small-size enterprises, projects launched to encourage exports and investment-related price reductions by the state in certain commodities, many businesses emerged in Anatolia.

Buoyed by new employment opportunities, Anatolian capital started playing a significant role in the Turkish economy.

Anatolian businessmen established small and medium-sized factories, resorted to modern marketing methods and learned the import-export business. As Anatolian capital grew, the "Dukedom of İstanbul" started losing its luster.

New rivals entered the market. Furthermore, this newly emerged rich group had not studied abroad in world capitals such as Paris, London or New York.

What's more, they were not refined in Western culture to have appreciation of opera, ballet, jazz, painting, sculpture, etc…

People looked down on as "peasants" a short while previously were no longer artisans or the owners of small-size enterprises; they had become business tycoons.

There were now factories in cities like Kayseri, Bursa, Denizli and Gaziantep and these people were full of energy. Thirsty for success, these rich Anatolian people established strong links with Central Asia, the Far East and Europe in a very short time, and this took those people by surprise.

There was another surprise: the new Anatolian owners of capital were not renouncing their religious values while making their commercial moves.

The sensitivity they proved to have in religious and national subjects rendered them "non-elite" in the sight of the first group of capital owners. Perhaps the first generation did not speak any foreign languages; however their children had the opportunity to receive higher education along the İstanbul-Paris-London-New York line.

The integration with world trade began with manager transfers from major companies based in İstanbul, and then the Anatolian-origin companies started employing their own well-educated children.

Turkey has been undergoing a massive social change for the last few decades. As common people, previously living in villages and not closely interested in politics and trade, prospered they started attaching higher importance to education and participating in the administration.

As the new generations, making utmost efforts to remain conservative, became modern and more active in the social life, certain segments of society were disturbed. And in time, the new generations grew more knowledgeable on music, art and literature, started opening private schools and taking more modern initiatives.

This gravitation of a major group of people disturbed the status quo and the capital groups consisting of a very small group of people.

Those who want to keep a balanced relation between piety and the material world, gaining more ground in society and running for the top in politics, are putting those who describe secularism as pressure on religion in a difficult situation.

Libertarian expansions of democratic Muslims brought the secular leftists far closer to coup-stagers. The essence of the rhetoric of "the regime is under threat" hidden under the mask of politics is actually the fear of social change.

The elite groups, which, until a short while ago, were able to squeeze concessions from all state institutions, are faced with a thoroughly different situation today.

The success in living in accordance with both Islam and democracy is scaring the living daylights out of them. But this fear is totally unsubstantiated. The Islamic tradition and lifestyle in Turkey point to a large group of people who have "digested" democracy.

Those trying to cover their fight for having more unearned income from the regime are both confused and confusing. They write down the wrong notes in history, because they think that their delusions are real…
Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2007, 10:21
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