By Etyen Mahcupyan, Today's Zaman
I, too, was seriously distressed after the July 22 elections over whether the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) would nominate Abdullah Gül or somebody else for the presidency. Considering the new government's reform program, and given the Kurdish and Alevi deputies in the AK Party itself, it was not difficult to envision a period for the government during which it would be under great pressure from both inside and outside the country. Would it not be better to pass such a difficult period in a quieter atmosphere surrounding the issue of the presidency? Thus, I started to convince myself that the nomination of some person other than Gül would be a better option. And in the meantime, it was reported that Gül and Erdoğan started having minor frictions as some candidates of Gül's personal choice weren't elected, impacting the relationship of the two. And particularly because Bülent Arınç started aspiring to more active positions, the possibility that the bargaining atmosphere within the party could get tenser left me more uncertain.
So, just as I was about to totally persuade myself that somebody else's nomination would be better, I came across Nur Çintay's utterly confounding article published in Radikal newspaper. "In the Gül couple, I see a man who loves and cares for his wife very much, and a happy woman who is still in love with her husband and who knows she is loved very much. One doesn't need to fear happy people. Can you imagine the change; a couple in Çankaya who are happy and love each other, and whose smiles are genuine?" she wrote. One unconsciously starts making comparisons. My system of thought was suddenly shattered. The possibility that we may have to put up with another saturnine, mechanical president who defines himself as the soldier of the official ideology started appearing in my dreams. In one of those dreams, a president of that ilk even chased me until morning, demanding that I become his undersecretary. Our family physician told me I was suffering from this presidential syndrome because I had mixed my thoughts with my feelings, and he advised therapy for me to be able to see the great contradiction between the happiness of the Gül family and the degree of primness and seriousness demanded by the post of president.
It was only after this that I started following Baykal's statements with greater attention. In fact, after a short while, Baykal shared his extremely enlightening idea with the public: "Conciliation or conflict." That is, the AK Party was either going to agree with the military on the presidential candidate, or it wasn't going to be that easy to elect its own candidate. This is exactly what I had been thinking. I had learnt during my primary school years that a government not reconciled with and not favored by the military wasn't a legitimate one, and I had many more chances to remember this fact in later years. However, it was a must to find out what the demands of the military were in order to envisage on what sort of ground the conciliation demanded had to take place. In this regard, it turned out a great benefit for the public that the journalists pushed the chief of general staff to say a word or two on the issue. He said that the future president had to be secular "not in words but in essence." Namely, what he meant was: "Don't pay attention to the exterior, the form, the shell; look at a person's essence and real thoughts inside."
I have to confess: when I viewed Abdullah Gül from this angle, everything suddenly became crystal clear because Gül is someone who is secular in essence. He is someone who claims secularism in its universal sense, who sees it as an arbitrator institution among faiths and who defines it not as a limitation but as grounds for more freedom. He is someone who has internalized the fact that one cannot be secular by repeating clichés and by meddling in the way people dress. I cannot tell you how relieved I felt. It turned out that also the military had been supporting Gül's presidency from the onset. In addition to the existence of a couple in Çankaya who are happy and who love each other very much, the existence of happy institutions in our capital which love one another. Can you imagine the change?
Needless to say, I haven't been suffering from insomnia ever since that day, and I no longer have those unpleasant encounters with some possible presidents. With much excitement, I'm waiting for the great conciliation to take place.
Last Mod: 10 Ağustos 2007, 09:35