June 08, 2013
ISTANBUL - Dozens, maybe hundreds of articles saying more or less the same thing have been published by the Turkish media: "The Prime Minister doesn't understand the street..."
This sentence (and the sentiment) continues as such: If he ever could properly understand it, he would also realize that he is in the wrong and will stop acting as such!
A friend of mine identified this as the: syndrome of a teenager seeking the approval of his father. But what if your father does not understand you as you like to portray yourself to be, but rather as he perceives you? What then will you do with your father?
Of course, the actions of the politicians are important in democracies; those actions also determine the behavior pattern of those who govern. But it seems the situation is different with us.
Our faith in Erdogan’s word being law is so deep that we expect everything to be done by him.
However, there are plenty of examples that justify our expecting so. He is a leader who sees an unfinished statue while passing by, calls it a “freak” and has it demolished. He is also the one who determines the fate of a small Koran school behind the Piyale Pasha Mosque. There are bigger examples. He is the one who does not like the prices offered in state bids and cancels them. He is also the one who says ‘we will do this no matter what you say.’
Such things do not, cannot happen in countries that call themselves states under the rule of law. The preferences of the Prime Minister affect the course of events to a degree; they cannot, however, be the sole factor.
Dozens of lessons can be learned from the events which started with the Gezi Park protests and turned into a situation that nobody knows how to resolve by the abrupt assault of the Istanbul police (probably after consulting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan) against a tiny protest group.
If the energy originating from that park would do any good, it should be this. It should save us from the destiny of being children trying to explain ourselves ‘correctly’ to the prime minister-father. Everything should have limits according to the rule of law; including the actions of a nation's leader.
But probably before anything else, we ourselves must see that we are not the prime minister’s children who must try to win his graces.
Because Erdogan continues to perceive us the way he knows and wants us to be.
Why the fury ?
Professor Nilüfer Göle had an article on this matter on the T24 internet site. I will take a quote from that since it answers the question in the title very well:
“The start of interventions into living spaces in the name of morals raised suspicions among the public, which is being rearranged within the scope of Islamic values; just like it happened with the warning to young people kissing at the Ankara subway. The law to regulate alcohol sales caused reactions especially because of the moralist jargon formed around it."
Erdogan’s personal brand of power, his habit of dictating his own vision made people lose power over their own lives, surroundings and cities: from the statue in Kars to the AKM project in Istanbul.
Public life transformed into an arena with a single gladiator.
His AKP party, its deputies and local governors got left out of the game; and simply became his audience. The calming words of the Istanbul Mayor on the Gezi Park got lost in the shuffle. All of the intermediary mechanisms: press, politics and civil society having retreated, and explains why all the anger is voiced towards Tayyip Erdogan himself
The people do not accept a singular morality, a singular point for good-beautiful-right; at least not the ones in the streets today. This is the struggle going on right now in Turkey.
Hurriyet ("Liberty") is a leading Turkish newspaper founded by Sedat Simavi in May 1948. Based in Istanbul, the newspaper is printed in six cities in Turkey but also in Frankfurt, Germany. Owned by Aydin Dogan, some 600,000 copies of Hurriyet are distributed everyday.