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Fear and Doubt Among Istanbul's Citizens in Wake of Attempted Coup
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“I went to Taksim Square where there was a rally against the coup,” says Gokse, a 30-year-old woman journalist and photographer. “I was so scared because all the women there looked at me as if I was a demon. The men said that ‘if you go on dressing like that you deserve to die’. Most people there were carrying red Turkish flags, but there were some black flags with Arabic writing on them like you see in Daesh (Isis) videos.”

In Istanbul there is a mood of apprehension in the wake of the failed coup, the demonstrations demanding that the coup plotters be hanged and the detention or sacking of 60,000 soldiers, judges, teachers and civil servants. People feel they are turning the corner towards an uncertain future about which they know nothing except that they suspect it will be worse than anything they have experienced in the past.

“I have known three military interventions in my lifetime, but this one is different,” says Ayse Bugra, professor of political economy at Bogazici University. The difference is that this time the attempted putsch was contested and not just announced through a statement from the army high command readout on the radio on the morning after it had taken place. “Not having a stable solid army is not reassuring,”she says.

Sometimes the pervasive gloom and expectations of calamity seem to go far beyond what is rationally predictable, particularly among the intelligentsia and educated middle class. “Things may be bad, but this is not Baghdad or Damascus,” I said. “But that makes it worse,” replied Prof Bugra. “Previously the majority felt that Turkey was an island of stability.” Turks are simply not used to the degree of violence, uncertainty and fear to which Iraqis and Syrians have become accustomed over the last 50 years.

The post-coup purge – so extensive and radical that some Turks call it a “counter-coup” – has so far led to the detention of some 10,000 people according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking as he introduced a three-month state of emergency late on Wednesday night. But the number affected by the crackdown is far greater than this, with all 3.3 million public servants banned from taking holidays, presumably so they will not be absent if they are investigated for links to the movement led by the self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is alleged by the state to have been behind the attempted coup. Nobody knows who will be implicated.

The Turkish parliament voted to approve the national state of emergency on Thursday, giving Mr Erdogan the authority to extend detention times for suspects and issue decrees that have the force of law without parliamentary approval, among other powers.

Turkey has temporarily withdrawn from the European Convention on Human Rights, citing the precedent of France doing the same in response to terrorist outrages. The purpose of these actions appears to legalise what the state is already doing, while reassuring the outside world that Turkey is not turning into one more Middle East autocracy with no law or accountability, and in which any dissent is punished as terrorism. The Council of Europe has said it had been informed of Turkey’s decision, and that the convention will still apply, but that individual exceptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, who previously worked on Wall Street, wrote reassuringly on Twitter on Thursday that “the state of emergency in Turkey won’t include restrictions on movement, gatherings and free press, etc. It isn’t martial law of 1990s. I’m confident Turkey will come out of this with much stronger democracy, better functioning market economy and enhanced investment climate.”

Not everybody is so confident because they do not know how long the purge will go on or how wide-ranging it will be. Some compare it to the Bolshevik purges after 1917, though not to Stalin’s purges in the 1930s. Prof Bugra says that nobody some of her colleagues were joking that “they should learn how to make jam and pickles” because they cannot concentrate on their work in the present atmosphere.

The Gulenists were certainly at the heart of the coup plot though they may not have acted alone, but they only finally broke with the ruing Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2014. The AKP may now denounce the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), but for years they were close allies and the Gulen movement was the AKP’s chosen instrument in purging the security services of secularists by arrests and trials alleging participation in non-existent conspiracies. Mr Gulen and his supporters have denied any involvement in the attempted coup

The Gulenists had every opportunity to insert their own cadres and adherents into the armed forces, police, civil service and educational institutes. Some Turkish observers compare the role of the group in securing positions of influence for its members to that of the Roman Catholic organisation Opus Dei, which was alleged to have had similar links with right wing governments such as that of General Franco in Spain. In addition to committed adherents, the Gulenists were deemed to dominate a variety of business associations though these were often loose networks whose members may not have known have had much connection to the movement.

The coup has also brought to the surface a long standing cultural clash between the secular and the religious. Mr Erdogan continues to call for demonstrations in the streets to capitalise on his success in defeating the coup – perhaps also a sign that his administration is not confident that there will not be more armed action against it. These boisterous crowds shouting nationalist and religious slogans frighten AKP opponents. An example is Sayeste, a highly educated 40-year-old woman who arranges clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies and is thinking of leaving the country because of the creeping Islamisation of education and culture.


She says that if she had to think only of herself she would stay, but she is worried about her seven year daughter Mira being affected by the more religious and intolerant atmosphere. She explains that Mira goes to a primary school “where she is the only one to do music and swimming while the other girls all go to the mosque to listen to readings from the Quran. She says she would like to go with her friends.” Sayeste fears Mira will become isolated from the other children. She dreads her being affected by the degree of hatred for each other expressed by different sides in a deeply divided Turkish society. As an example, she recalls that three years ago she joined the protests to keep open Gezi Park in central Istanbul when the government “denounced us all as terrorists.”

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Erdogan, Turkey 
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  1. Rehmat says:

    How sad – “some protesters had black flags with Arabic words on it, like Daesh ….” To make Cockburn, some of them should had flags with nude picture of Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s annexation minister, or better a STAR of ZION on a blue colored flag.

    Daesh flag was designed by French Jew Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared Caliph of the throat cut ZionNazis.

    • LOL: Marcus
  2. It looks very much as if the end of Kemalist Turkey is at hand. Various pundits have been predicting this for years, so it’s not exactly a shock. The fact that it has been accomplished by a crass opportunist like Erdogan who wrapped himself in the clothing of an Ottoman Caliph should not surprise either. Only a shallow adventurer would think purging the state of his perceived opponents and replacing them with his placemen would strengthen the state.
    Whatever its faults, the state forged by Ataturk resulted in a secular entity committed to a degree of modernity.
    The non-religious could and did attain positions of authority in public and private life. Even women like Ayse Bugra could become professors.
    Erdogan and his minions now have the job of replacing the military and state sector employees dismissed with placemen. A fair number of the lower ranking officials may be reinstated, but they won’t be loyal or regarded as loyal by the AKP.
    The rest of the placemen will be very substandard. They won’t have the knowledge, qualifications or experience of those they are replacing. This may result in the near collapse of the state sector. Things may be even more serious for the military. It will be much diminished. Facing threats from the Kurds and in Syria also, this may be critical.
    Historical analogies are always imprecise- history never completely repeats itself. But Spain 1936 springs to mind. The Spanish Republicans started to purge the upper ranks of the military and replaced them with political nominees. Then they started to use death squads to murder political opponents – in their hundreds. Finally, they assassinated Jose Calvo Sotelo. Cue Civil War. The AKP don’t have death squads yet – but give them time !
    Turkey 80 years later. I don’t predict a riot. I predict Civil War.

    • Replies: @Rehmat
    , @matt
  3. Rehmat says:

    Erdogan, no matter what the Organized Jewry says – is very popular among Turkish Jews.

    Attaturk is loved by the West not because he was a “secularist” – but because being a Crypto Jew, he rooted-out Islam from Turkey which is 99.7% Muslim. He banned Arabic language, call of prayers from mosques, closed down Islamic madrassa, banned Hijab, and turned Aya (Hagia) Sophia Mosque into a Museum. But like Stalin, Attaturk never closed synagogue or Jewish school.

    Aya Sofia Mosque, formerly the cathedral of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) was originally built by Emperor Constantius I (324-337 AC) on a pagan worship place. It was burned down during a revolt. It was resurrected by Emperor Theodosius in 415 AC and was again burned down during the Nika Revolt in 532 AC. Later, Emperor Justinian rebuild a much bigger church at the same site which was opened for worship on December 27, 537 AC.

    On May 29, 1453, Ottoman Sultan Fatih Mehmet II conquered the Byzantine capital of Constantinople (Istanbul) and ordered all pictures and idols with the exception of a statue of Virgin Mary be removed and a wooden minaret added – thus signaling the conversion of the cathedral into a mosque. Some historian believe that though it’s forbidden in Islam to convert non-Muslim worship places to mosques – Sultan Fatih Mehmet took the action as a response to western Christians’ destruction and conversion of mosques to churches in Seville and Córdoba.

  4. Parbes says:

    ““I went to Taksim Square where there was a rally against the coup,” says Gokse, a 30-year-old woman journalist and photographer. “I was so scared because all the women there looked at me as if I was a demon. The men said that ‘if you go on dressing like that you deserve to die’. Most people there were carrying red Turkish flags, but there were some black flags with Arabic writing on them like you see in Daesh (Isis) videos.””

    Yep… These are the “democracy-loving Turkish civilians”, whom disingenuous idiots like Israel Shamir assure everyone, spilled out into the streets to “save democracy in Turkey”.

    Israel Shamir and all the rest of the worthless two-bit pundits who keep shilling for the Islamist Erdogan dictatorship, should be forced to go and live in the glorious “people power” Turkey of Erdogan.

  5. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says:

    I would support real secularism, but what goes by the name of secularism isn’t.

    Secularism should be rational, skeptical, critical, and pro-liberty.

    But the secular West has its own iron dogma and ideocratic tyranny called PC that is really a form of Political Worship.

    Holocaustianity is a religion that destroys heretics. Homomania requires all to celebrate and praise the homo. MLK cult and Mandela cults are faiths. In UK, you can be arrested for making irreverent twit about Mandela. Diversity is a faith. You must believe it is good and a ‘strength’. If you say otherwise, you are destroyed as a heretic.

    How did the secular media treat Samuel Huntington’s WHO ARE WE? and Thilo Sarrazin’s GERMANY ABOLISHES ITSELF. How did US treat Jason Richwine and Helen Thomas?

    Secular my butt.

    Also, there is the worship of Mammon, the surrender of rational faculties, moral sense, and critical self-control to Negromania of Rap and slut feminism of Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, and Lena Dunham.
    Trigglypuff and Trigger-Warnings and bogus BLM and Safe Spaces and ‘gay marriage’ and Bruce Jenner as woman… these are the faiths of the West.

    Secular? No, a neo-faith in trash.

    I would support Turkish girls learning to swim, exercise, and build their bodies and even being attractive sexually.

    But the West now promotes the pornification of mainstream culture and even the selling of slut dress to little girls.

    There’s a huge divide between a girl in swimsuit enjoying water and Miley Cyrus imitating twerking apekind.

    Secularism is Hillary mocking the police after it got murdered by black thugs.
    Secularism is standing ovation for some homo super-rich at RNC. Oh, holy homo!!! Lookie, the GOP got a holy homo to endorse it. What joy!!!!

    Secularism. Do you want Turkey to become like this?

    Pussy Riot, the face of current secularism..

    Neo-secularism says the powers that be should shut down certain speech as ‘hate’. Some liberty.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  6. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says:
    @Priss Factor

    Also, neo-secularism says the Powers-that-Be should have the power to decide what is ‘hate speech’ and ban it. Of course, the PTB are gonna ban speech that threatens their power and privilege.

    What is often called ‘secular’ is secular-in-name-only.

    It’s like communist nations were officially secular since they were not religious or even banned religion. Officially, they were atheist. But Marx, Lenin, and Engels–or Stalin or Mao or Castro or Che or Kim or Ceaucescu etc–had to worshiped as demi-gods.
    One could say Fascism and National Socialism were secular too, but they revolved around personality cults that were near god-like.

    US is secular in name only. The seculigion of America is MLK worship, Zion worship, homomania, diversity-mania, and etc. Young children are taught to worship such things and attack any dissenter as ‘hater’.

    Secular in name only or SINO(not to be confused with Chinee).

  7. matt says:

    You’re of course fully aware, I’m sure, that the Spanish Right had its own death squads, which were fully unleashed by Franco’s mutiny, and that Calvo Sotelo’s murder was itself provoked by the Falange’s murder of Guardia de Asalto lieutenant José Castillo. Or does that not fit your cartoonish narrative?

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  8. Marcus says:

    I was lucky to have visited Turkey before Erdogan had really consolidated power, probably won’t be safe again for tourists in the foreseeable future.

  9. @matt

    Calvo Sotelo was murdered on July 13 1936. He was not a Falangist. The Army Revolt occurred from July 17 1936. No serious historian believes that Sotelo’s murder did not precipitate the Civil War. Franco was by nature a cautious individual. The consequences of a failed revolt were very serious. So he waited.
    However, Calvo Sotelo’s murder convinced Nationalists that they had to act immediately. If the Republicans could kill someone like Calvo Sotelo, who was after all Leader of the Opposition, they could kill anyone. Such was the reasoning.
    You accuse me of having a cartoonish view of history. On the contrary, I have studied the subject deeply. The Spanish Civil War like nearly all civil wars was bloody and prolonged with atrocities committed on all sides.
    I have always tried to adhere to the evidence. This is something you should do as well.

    • Replies: @matt
  10. matt says:

    The assassination of Calvo Sotelo “precipitated” an event that had been planned by the Army since the day after the Popular Front won the election. Yes, it may have caused them to act when they did, but they were going to act eventually.

    And again, you simply did not address the point that Falangists killed an important police officer the day before leftist police officers killed Calvo Sotelo. So if the assassination of Calvo Sotelo by the police is responsible for the Civil War, why isn’t the assassination of a police lieutenant by the Falange about equally responsible?

    Or do you approve of cop-killing? ¡Vidas Falangistas Importan!

  11. First of all, Calvo Sotelo was not a Falangist. Stop repeating that falsehood.
    Secondly, you are an historical and social illiterate. Calvo Sotelo was Leader of the Opposition. The policeman was a mere lieutenant. The difference in social and political status was yawning.
    Social status has been essential to human relations since as far back as we have written records.
    It is the same re political assassinations.
    If Gavril Princip had shot a junior Austrian officer in Sarajevo in 1914, there would likely have been no First World War. Instead he shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife to death. Casus Belli.
    If Governor Connelly had died in Dallas in 1963, rather than President Kennedy, the event might be largely forgotten, like the failed assassination of Ronald Reagan.
    If a Black Lives Matter activist, god forbid, shoots a New York Police Lieutenant to death, there will be serious consequences. If he or she, god forbid, assassinates Republican Nominee Donald J Trump, I would not care to predict the consequences……
    Of course, maybe a troll like you wants this to happen.
    In which case, GET THEE GONE.

    • Replies: @matt
    , @matt
  12. matt says:

    I never said that Calvo Sotelo was a Falangist, and to accuse me of saying so is a lie. I said his assassination was part of an escalating tit-for-tat war between the Left as a whole and the Right as a whole, in which both sides played their part, and which helped set the stage for the civil war. The police officers who killed Calvo Sotelo didn’t see the killers of Castillo as “falangists”, they saw them as “rightists” and they decided to take revenge on the “right” as a whole by assassinating its leader.

    Second, if assassinating the leader of the opposition is worse than assassinating a police lieutenant, then it would appear that overthrowing the entire government via military mutiny and suspending elections for the next 40 years would be a tad worse than assassinating the leader of the opposition.

    Finally, you simply ignored my point that the military had been planning a coup since the moment the Popular Front won the election, and that the assassinations on both sides leading up to the treasonous act were mere catalysts, not true causes.

    • Replies: @matt
  13. matt says:

    If Gavril Princip had shot a junior Austrian officer in Sarajevo in 1914, there would likely have been no First World War. Instead he shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife to death. Casus Belli.

    This is a very strange example for you to use, since it makes my point perfectly. It’s universally agreed that the causes of the Great War had brewing for decades in Europe, and that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was but a catalyst or pretext for a war that European powers (particularly, but not only, Germany) had been planning for some time.

    • Replies: @5371
  14. 5371 says:

    [particularly … Germany]


    You seem additionally to be unfamiliar with the concept of a proximate cause, which you confuse with those of catalyst and pretext. Ultimate causes are not always profound or illuminating. The invention of the automobile, for example, is one ultimate cause of the assassination of Calvo Sotelo, who was abducted in a car before being shot, but not very specific to it.

    • Replies: @matt
  15. matt says:

    On the contrary, it is you who is unfamiliar with the distinction between a cause (proximate or ultimate), and a precondition. The invention of the automobile was a precondition for Calvo Sotelo’s murder, not a cause.

    I wouldn’t throw the word “idiot” around if I were you.

    • Replies: @5371
  16. 5371 says:

    There is no such distinction, idiot. Only two different words for the same thing.

    • Replies: @matt
  17. matt says:

    Ah, so gravity was the cause of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (how else did the bombs fall?) and the Big Bang was the cause of the Crimean War. Gotcha.

    • Replies: @5371
  18. 5371 says:

    Not THE cause as though there was no other. A cause.
    You seem to believe, furthermore, that if you say something is “only” a catalyst you are denying it is a cause, or a “real” cause. You are here in serious error. The whole point of catalysts is that without them the relevant reactions do not proceed or do so to a lesser degree. Their distinguishing characteristic among other ingredients – that they do not enter into the reaction itself – is not relevant to this their metaphorical use.

  19. matt says:

    Not THE cause as though there was no other. A cause.

    Ordinary, sane people make contextual distinctions between the many conditions that influence or make possible an event, calling some “causes” and ignoring others, or at most labeling them “preconditions”. In a just world, a failure to distinguish between gravity on the one hand, and the military and/or geopolitical considerations that influenced the atomic bombing of Japan on the other, would be punished with a decades-long sentence of hard labor.

    You seem to believe, furthermore, that if you say something is “only” a catalyst you are denying it is a cause, or a “real” causes

    No. I am denying it is an important cause, compared to other causes. I am balking at the attempt to blame the entire civil war on the killing of a goofy-looking monarchist.

    The whole point of catalysts is that without them the relevant reactions do not proceed or do so to a lesser degree.

    Unless another “catalyst” comes along, which it no doubt would have in Spain, especially since the military was looking for one.

    Now stop pestering me and go back to fantasizing about feudalism.

  20. matt says:

    By the way, although Calvo Sotelo was not technically a Falangist, Renovación Española, the party that the fat prick led, subsidized the Falange with 10,000 pesetas a month. Not surprising that he was a target.

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