Doug Bandow makes the case that Turkey is different from other Middle Eastern countries that have experienced an Arab Spring.
Bandow argues that Turkey is democratic and cites Prime Minister Erdogan’s three consecutive election victories with increasing majorities as proof.
But a few paragraphs later, Bandow acknowledges that most Turks are afraid to criticize Erdogan and observes, “The majority now feared losing their companies, academic positions, jobs and even freedom.”
Well, no wonder Erdogan has increased his majorities in each election. It’s easy to call Erdogan a democrat for winning elections. I’d like to see how democratic his spirit remains should he lose an election. Alas, this is not likely to happen. At this rate, Erdogan will soon receive 100% of the vote and become Prime Minister for Life. From where I sit, it’s pretty difficult to describe a country as democratic if the people are afraid to criticize the government and its leader.
Bandow also rejects the criticism that Erdogan is trying to create an Islamic state in Turkey. He describes Erdogan as “a moderate Muslim who wants to bend, not break, the secular Turkish state.” This would be the same Erdogan who in 2007 said, “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”
Turkey might not be Iran in that Erdogan isn’t answerable to any Mullahs but secularism is becoming of a thing of past just the same. Indeed, renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say was recently convicted in a Turkish courts for blaspheming Islam on Twitter. If Erdogan is bending secularism in Turkey, I would suggest that the bending has only just begun.
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