Turkey Right Now: Awful Government, Awful Opposition

Turkey Right Now: Awful Government, Awful Opposition
Nuray Mert

ISTANBUL â€" The country is at a dead end, and everything is a mess.

The main Turkish opposition, if such a thing really exists, is still unable to clearly express where it stands on the Middle East, foreign policy in general, a new constitution and the debates about the presidential system. Certain opposition groups still dance around such issues as the corruption and smuggling trial of Riza Sarraf, the Kurdish question, the Obama-Erdogan meeting and the country's looming economic crisis. On the other hand, the Kurdish movement believes that politics is based on how loud you are, and are betting that the present chaos in the country will somehow weaken the ruling administration.

The Kurds think the government will have no choice but to sit at the table again for restarting the negotiations. If not, then it is "the peoples' revolution" time. Others think the government will either come to its senses or lose power by gradually getting exhausted as it faces more problems, at home and abroad. All factions of the opposition seem to be counting on a strategy whereby they will win when the government loses.

Turkey, however, is now on a path in which everybody will lose more, and it will remain so unless a serious exit plan can be found.

Have no doubt that the weakened government will be more oppressive, more cruel and more lawless. If not, it will write its own laws and enforce them. The government will enhance a policy of confrontation instead of negotiations as the Kurds' room for maneuver diminishes by the day.

This is the path that the government has chosen, furiously blaming anybody from the opposition for "supporting terrorism" instead of questioning their own policies. This is the kind of government we have: It is not disturbed by the status of the country â€" on the contrary, it perceives the difficulties that Turkey faces as a solution to its own problems. All of this "martyrdom" propaganda, "the red on the flag is the color of blood," and "dying for the homeland is what makes it real," all is used toward that goal.

Dictatorships don't end well

On one hand, it is hard these days to say out loud things such as, "No sir, let us not be martyrs but brothers," or "homeland should be where you are happy to live" or "let the red of the flag be the color of a flower." But the issue is not only about courage. Forget about the suicide bombings, how can our voice not get weaker as news of martyrs occur almost daily? When they say "we killed eight of them and they killed one of us" how can we make the people say "no, eight and one equals nine of us?"

It must also be realized that further alienating Turkey in the international community is not a solution, but rather another factor to drive the current administration to more extreme stances. Which country led by someone the world declared a "dictator" ever got something good out of it? We see what happens to these countries. It is true that those most worried about this are those in the government, but it is actually the whole country that collapses in such situations. Nobody hands you a "plug-and-play democracy."

I am not suggesting one shouldn't criticize this government. On the contrary, I say it is a dangerous road to walk. Tying all hope to the government getting weaker and not putting up a struggle for democracy â€" I say nobody will win anything on that road. I say standing up against a terrible government is not possible with a terrible opposition. The way is not an opposition of the hardcore nationalists of the MHP, nor the CHP"s indecisive and ineffectual style, nor the Kurdish movement's efforts to cut ties with the democratic struggle. Democrats, liberals, and all the other lines of opposition: I simply say that putting all hopes in the weakening government will never provide a real way out.

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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