Inside the Turkish Protests

alsancakThe battle taking place in Turkey touches the very core of the Turkish Republic and its future. The country’s secularists who were in power for decades, but who have for the last ten years taken a backseat, have taken to the streets demanding the separation of mosque and state, while the Islamists led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan aim to Islamize the country faster and more thoroughly than ever before, while cracking down on all possible dissent.

I was able to speak to protesters in two different cities (Izmir and Istanbul) about their aims and the reasons for their sudden protests. At first, international media reported that the protests had started purely because inhabitants of Istanbul wanted to save a park (Gezi Parki). Although that certainly played a role, it was made clear to me from the get-go that the park was simply the last straw: their anger with Erdogan had increased year after year, and lately month after month. Finally, they said, they were fed up. They drew a line in the sand and said, “No more” to Erdogan’s authoritarianism and Islamism.karsiyaka 22

Some of the protesters I spoke to had voted for Erdogan’s AK Parti in 2003. At that moment the country was hit hard by an economic crisis (which eerily reminds me of some other authoritarians who came to power in such difficult times, and who gradually increased their hold on their populace). He pretended to be a liberal democrat, a man who could unite the Turkish people, both conservative Muslims and secularists, and who would take the desperately needed measures the economy required to spring back to life. With him, he said — and voters believed — that a new era of universal freedom and economic prosperity was to arrive.

Sadly, things turned out slightly different than these voters had expected, they said. In the last ten years, they told me, Erdogan first strenghtened his hold on the government and all its institutions (including the judicial power and the military), after which he – at first slowly, later much faster – started to Islamize the country. In the last few months especially that Islamization had speeded up, with the prime minister saying women should have three children, a ban on the sale of alcohol between 10PM and 6AM, and an attempt to greatly reduce the right of abortion. When the opposition voiced their criticism they were at best ignored and at worst imprisoned (as has happened to hundreds of journalists).

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“Erdogan is a fascist, it’s that simple,” one of the protesters in Izmir told me. “He has to step down!” Another passionate youth said that “Erdogan has gone too far. Did you know that there’s no image of [Mustafa Kemal Atatürk - the founder of the modern and secular Turkish Republic] in schoolbooks anymore? He wants to remove all traces of Atatürk, who represents Turkish secularism. He wants to replace our laws with the Sharia!”

alsancak 2One of the reasons that I understood the significance and true meaning of these protests early on is that many of the protesters are women. One of them told me that they all fear for their future role in a Turkey governed by the AK Parti. “Do I have to stay at home and raise three children or more? Will he decide that for me? Will I not be able to decide what I want to do and how I want to live my life? Do I need a headscarf eventually?”

Erdogan’s response to these questions and concerns has been brutal. Lawyers, doctors, protesters, Twitter users, Facebook users, journalists (both foreign and domestic) have been arrested this month. By behaving in that manner, the prime minister has, protesters justifiably say, confirmed their suspicions: he is out to Islamize the country and he will not stop until he has achieved that overarching goal.

Much has been written the last few years about a so-called “Arab Spring.” Arab peoples were ridding themselves of their dictators to finally embrace democracy. Yes, it was the start of a new Middle Eastern Golden Age. Sadly, that scenario was, as we now know, not to be. The secular dictators of the region have not been replaced by democrats, but by Islamofascists. Egypt, Tunisia, Libya are all lost to the West. They have been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic radicals who not only wish to destroy Israel, but also to enslave and oppress their own people.

girl beaten

In Turkey, however, there is a real Spring taking place. The protesters who have taken to the streets for weeks now, and who are attacked, tear gassed and arrested by the police are freedom-loving secularists, who defend their right to live as they see fit, and who demand answers from a prime minister who is increasingly showing his true – authoritarian and Islamist – colors.

More photos of the protest in Turkey:

protesten izmir 1

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akp office izmir

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  • Tan

    Imagine if one day Obama had us all submit to Sharia Law and we never saw it coming. Could you imagine how stressful or in denial you would be? Everyone would be beyond appalled and up in arms without hesitation. If this can happen in Turkey, this can also happen to us as well. Let us learn something from the Islamic Spring.

    • Blake hitler

      its already happening in America.

      • defcon 4

        I agree. It’s no accident that the zero’s biggest buddies in the world are islamo-fascist theocrats and dictators.

  • http://www.friv4game.net/ Friv 4

    It seems that our young people are very friendly and peaceful winter in the victory, but there are extreme fun when you have to touch them to the police.

  • Michael_Blogs

    “If this can happen in Turkey, this can also happen to us as well. Let us learn something from the Islamic Spring.”

    The conclusion is very simple: one cannot afford islamists – be they ‘moderate’ or not – to come to power. Ever.

    Friv 4: it’s very peaceful, everything. One day there was some stress, but the protests were, from the start, very peaceful, with music, etc. The ones who first used violence were the police.

    • EarlyBird

      “The conclusion is very simple: one cannot afford islamists – be they ‘moderate’ or not – to come to power. Ever.”
      Since there is no such thing as “moderate Islamist,” a contradiction in terms like “liberal fundamentalist,” you clearly mean by the above sentence that there should be no “Muslims at all” ever allowed to come to power, even through peaceful, respectful, democratic means.
      So, who is going to babysit the Muslim world for eternity, Michael?

      • objectivefactsmatter

        The Muslim Brotherhood are alleged to be “Moderate Islamists.” They displaced a Muslim ruler in Egypt, in case you didn’t know.

  • Burlington

    I was in Istanbul and Izmir just over a month ago. There was no hint of animosity toward Americans and the tourist business is obviously a very important part of the economy. There is a stark contrast between the hyper-sexual European women in tight jeans high heels next to a woman in a black burqa (the minority).

    • Michael_van_der_Galien

      Very true. Those burqa women are generally foreign tourists (from Iran and Saudi Arabia especially), but yes, some Turkish women have also been influenced by fundamentalists and have started to wear that hideous symbol of women’s inferiority according to islamists. That’s a major problem.

      In Izmir, on the other hand, I think you’re hard pressed to see a woman in a burqa. I’ve been living here for three years now, and haven’t seen one yet. It’s not for nothing that we call Izmir the secular capital of Turkey – and one of the best places to live.

      And yes, there are a LOT of westernised women in Turkey, esp. in Istanbul and Izmir, but also in Antalya, Ankara, Alanya, Marmaris, and so on. These women, however, have started to fear their own government, believing their rights will sooner or later be taken away if they don’t stand up for themselves now. I’m afraid to say I share that concern – who, seeing what the AK Parti is up to, does not?

    • ObamaYoMoma

      There is a stark contrast between the hyper-sexual European women in
      tight jeans high heels next to a woman in a black burqa (the minority).

      Remember that image 10 years from now after Sharia inevitably gets reimposed on Turkey.

    • defcon 4

      What would happen to me if I were to walk around Turkey in a kippah and tallits “friend”?

      • Burlington

        There would probably be a riot. It sure doesn’t take much to get one going. I believe it must be a recreational activity. Maybe it says something about that in the Quran.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    They have been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic radicals who not only wish to destroy Israel, but also to enslave and oppress their own people.

    Actually that’s ludicrous. They haven’t been taken over by Islamic radicals, they have been taken over by mainstream orthodox Muslims that not only wish to destroy Israel and indeed enslave all religions and all infidels via the imposition of Sharia, which is Islam’s totalitarian law, but, of course, their own people, as all people who are secular are also infidels. Hence, those people will inevitably become subjugated dhimmis in their own countries and oppressed into harsh and degrading dhimmitude exactly like the Christian Copts and all other infidels living inside Islamic totalitarian hellholes throughout the Islamic world.

    Indeed, there are no Islamic radicals, exactly like there are no Islamic moderates. There are only mainstream orthodox Muslims and the sole fundamental purpose of Islam is to subjugate into Islamic totalitarianism all religions and all infidels via the imposition of Sharia.

    What we are witnessing taking place today in Turkey, we will also be witnessing soon enough taking place throughout Europe as well, and in America too if we don’t hurry up and outlaw Islam and ban and reverse mass Muslim immigration ASAP, which is really non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad. Indeed, America needs to stop conflating what is actually jihad as being terrorism because they are not one and the same thing, as jihad unlike terrorism manifest both violently and non-violently, but astronomically far more non-violently relative to violently and mass Muslim immigration to the West is one of its most ubiquitous forms.

    who demand answers from a prime minister who is increasingly showing his true – authoritarian and Islamist – colors.

    Idiotic! The word Islamist is just another political correct term for radical Muslim, and again there are no radical Muslims, just like there are no moderate Muslims. Instead, there are only mainstream orthodox Muslims and mainstream orthodox Islam, with again the sole fundamental purpose of subjugating into Islamic totalitarianism all religions and all infidels via the imposition of Sharia, which is Islam’s totalitarian law.

  • Everett Vulgamore

    good on them for standing up to their oppressive government. now its our turn in america

  • Ellman48

    “With him, he said — and voters believed — that a new era of universal freedom and economic prosperity was to arrive.”

    Any wonder that he and Obama have become friends? Both support freedom and prosperity (NOT).

  • Ellman48

    Ataturk was for Turkey what Washington, Jefferson and Hamilton were for the United States – a liberator, a pragmatist, an egalitarian, especially for women’s rights. I would encourage people to read his biography to gain a greater understanding of the forces opposing each other in Turkey today. Ataturk and Erdgan are literally at war with each other, a war only one of them can win. The young people are on Ataturk’s side. Hopefully they have not awakened too late to Erdogan’s Islamo-fascism.

    • Michael_van_der_Galien

      I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. Turkey has to choose between these two visions. Hopefully Turks will choose Atatürk.

    • Blake hitler

      they’ll continue flooding into germany and living off the backs of taxpayers

  • Consider

    The sessions of American Congress (both houses) begin with a prayer (to a supernatural entity called god).

    Tell me more about secularism in the US.

    Uh, yes, there are also some ‘prayer breakfasts’…

  • FalkoBaumgartner

    The reality is that only the secular minority which has been in the defensive for a decade takes to the streets, while Erdogan still enjoys the support of the rural Islamist-conservative population. People interpret the protests as an awakening, but I am more convinced that they are rather the last spasms of the declining Kemalist elite. Those Westernized protesters on the pics have little in common with the common Turkish population I saw during a visit in March who seem to stay away from the demonstrations.

  • kafirman

    So the moral high ground of Turkey’s “secularism” is the right to kill their unborn children? This is not attacking Islam at its weakness, but at its strength. Instead attack Sharia for *apostasy laws *sanction of sexual slavery (Koran 4:3) *religious apartheid (Jizya tax Koran 9:29) * failure to admit Turkish/Islamic culpability in the Armenian genocide.

    • Knar K Mouhibian

      Thank you. I am delighted that someone mentioned the often ignored genocide. Ataturk was a butcher and there’s nothing to admire there.

  • Travis