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Turkey

Erdogan's Crackdown On Co-Ed Housing, Early Signs Of An Islamic Police State

Main entrance gate of Istanbul University on Beyazıt Square
Main entrance gate of Istanbul University on Beyazıt Square
Mehmet Yilmaz

-Op-Ed-

ISTANBUL — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the following to parliamentary representatives at his party’s gathering last week at Kizilcahamam:

“A university student girl is staying at the same house with a male student. There is no supervision for that. This is against our conservative democratic nature. Some kind of supervision must be exercised for this.”

His deputy Bulent Arinc and consultant Yalcin Akdogan first tried to correct these outlandish statements, but Erdogan stood by them, and even went further:

“There are some troubles concerning the sharing of houses in some places since we could not meet dormitory needs,” he said. “In these places, there is intelligence received by our security forces, the police department and the governorates. Acting upon this intelligence, our governors are intervening in these situations.”

So, the governors and security forces are intervening on such matters now. They have their eyes on people’s houses as if they are the gossipmongers of the neighborhood who have nothing better to do.

What is it to you how adult people live?

Parents think of their sons and daughters more than you. They know how to teach decency to them, not you.

“Excuse us, we cannot ignore these denouncements,” the prime minister has said. “Sometimes their neighbors in the same apartment building denounce them.”

What do these youth do that are a problem for the prime minister? Is it because all he can think about is — you know what?

He was on a roll, and continued: “Steps will be taken to show that the state is here. This is not intervening in the people’s way of life.”

What could the state possibly do that is more intervening to our way of life? Can you imagine a state that peeps inside people’s houses calling itself a democracy?

What’s next? What can we expect from an administration that believes it has the right to use the state’s governors and the police to intervene in people’s houses because their neighbors denounce them? Will they assign a police officer to each of us for every situation that does not comply with the prime minister’s conservative way of life?

It seems like we are at the dawn of an Islamist-fascist regime.

As a self-proclaimed “Islamist conservative,” the prime minister may be disturbed by non-married adults sharing the same roof. He may believe that this is not the right way to live. That’s fine. What’s not fine is forcing view this on society with police action.

People have the right to raise their children in any way they want just as the prime minister has the right to raise his children the way he wants.

A warning

We also know that the majority of Turkish parents are uneasy with relationships outside of wedlock. If the prime minister really intends to help these people, his job is not to use the police as voyeurs.

He could, for example, build more dormitories for university students. Since he is a “world leader” and Turkey is a “force in the world,” he could easily finance dormitories where the students can find cheap housing and proper meals.

This way, he could even help his friends in the construction business. Wouldn’t that be a good solution? That is what you do if you are a conservative leader in a normal democracy.

If you are against relationships outside of wedlock, you take measures to encourage people to get married. You offer tax breaks or introduce measures such as the newly enacted financial support to married students law, or offer priorities for employment.

Nobody would have any problem with these ideas. But police intervention in domestic housing creates a police state, and is not consistent with a democracy. Does the prime minister not have an adviser who can explain this to him?

When Erdogan has made harsh criticisms about the Gezi Park protests and talked about the 50 percent of the population he was struggling to “retain home,” people with sticks and machetes in hand thought it was their duty to intervene.

Ali Ä°smail Korkmaz, who was murdered expand=1] at a young age, was a victim of these remarks from the prime minister. It is not difficult to guess how conservatives with violent tendencies will perceive mixed student houses.

It is on the prime minister’s head if anything happens to a student. I am warning the governors and the police: use your authority to provide security for the youth, not for voyeurism.

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Geopolitics

The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters dressed in national colours with flags in a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 4, 2022.

Ivan Abreu / ZUMA
Carlos Ruckauf*

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

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