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Turkey, The Boomerang Of Erdogan's Post-Coup Crackdown

At an Istanbul national unity rally after the July 15 failed coup
At an Istanbul national unity rally after the July 15 failed coup
Ozgur Mumcu

Tensions remain high in Turkey following the July 15 failed coup attempt, with the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan focusing most of its wrath on the exiled imam Fetullah Gulen and the purge of his Gulenist followers. But could Erdogan's reaction backfire?


ISTANBUL — You don't want Fethullah Gulen to be deported back to Turkey? Just start a campaign to bring the death penalty back. You don't want his Gulenist followers to be deported back to Turkey? Brush off the pictures of beaten up prisoners in the media as just "a few slaps." Don't look into the claims of torture. And anyone making such claims should be labeled as traitors.

Do you want the world to talk about the subsequent government crackdown more than the attempted coup? Do you want some questions on the coup attempt to remain permanent? Don't ever talk about what was going on during daytime hours of July 15. Don't ever talk about the intelligence failure, the absence of the force commanders or the conflicting statements on that day.

You don't want social peace after the coup attempt? Alienate the legal Kurdish party HDP; raid their buildings with helicopters after midnight.

You don't want the political support for the coup to be revealed? Hide the politicians who have helped them organize it at every level of the state. Protect the community lawyers you made parliamentary deputies. Who would be in the cabinet if the coup had succeeded? Who would be the general chief of staff? Keep these questions away from the public agenda.

You want the threat of the coup to be permanent? Open the doors to the other religious communities currently loyal to you since they are now so excited that they know the military can be infiltrated. Make the education system more religious so that those other Muslim communities can organize well. Transfer the education infrastructure of the Gulen community to other Muslim communities. Pave the path of officers, judges and prosecutors who would take their orders not from Master Fethullah but some other master. Assign them to the positions emptied of all Gulenists.

And, since you do not want any trouble to come of your past support to the Gulen Community ... You be the one who shouts the loudest, who accuses the quickest, who snitches on one and all.

Fetullah Gulen earlier this year — Photo: Alphax News

Be sure that, as long as neither Gulen nor the Gulenists will be deported back to Turkey, the oppressive government is talked about more than the bloody coup attempt. And so the country will grow ever more divided, the political leg of the coup remains hidden and the threat of a coup remains constant.

What more could the Gulen community ask for? They couldn't have concocted a better failed coup Plan B themselves. Congratulations.

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A Refuge From China's Rat Race: The Young People Flocking To Buddhist Monasteries

Unemployment, stress in the workplace, economic difficulties: more and more young Chinese graduates are flocking to monasteries to find "another school of life."

Photograph of a girl praying at a temple during Chinese Lunar New Year. She is burning incense.

Feb 20, 2015 - Huaibei, China - Chinese worshippers pray at a temple during the Lunar New Yeat

Frédéric Schaeffer

JIAXING — It's already dawn at Xianghai Temple when Lin, 26, goes to the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas for the 5:30 a.m. prayer.

Still half-asleep, the young woman joins the monks in chanting mantras and reciting sacred texts for an hour. Kneeling, she bows three times to Vairocana, also known as the Great Sun Buddha, who dominates the 42-meter-high hall representing the cosmos.

Before grabbing a vegetarian breakfast in the adjacent refectory, monks and devotees chant around the hall to the sound of drums and gongs.

"I resigned last October from the e-commerce company where I had been working for the past two years in Nanjing, and joined the temple in January, where I am now a volunteer in residence," explains the young woman, soberly dressed in black pants and a cream linen jacket.

Located in the city of Jiaxing, over a hundred kilometers from Shanghai, in eastern China, the Xianghai temple is home to some 20 permanent volunteers.

Unlike Lin, most of them only stay for a couple days or a few weeks. But for Lin, who spends most of her free time studying Buddhist texts in the temple library, the change in her life has been radical. "I used to do the same job every day, sometimes until very late at night, writing all kinds of reports for my boss. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I felt my life had no meaning," she says.

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