I Support Erdogan and You Should Too


I have been part of many protests. Countless. I know the raw anger and emotional energy they channel. I also understand the group-think and ignorance that runs rampant among them.

Currently, Istanbul’s Taksim Square is embroiled in conflict. On one end are protesters, primarily Socialist, secularist and of general Leftist persuasion, and on the other end are the police and soon-to-be military. The protesters ostensibly started as an environmentalist movement, to preserve one of the few green areas in Istanbul. But over time it has been against the authoritarianism and increased religiosity in the country. But after carefully looking at the issue, and having followed Turkish politics for around 2 years now, its clear to me that these protesters have absolutely no legitimacy and are themselves duped into ignorance fuelled by emotionalism and blind rebelliousness.

In this article, I hope to convince you that you why the protesters are wrong and why you should side with President Recep Tayyep Erdoğan.

The Cold Hard Numbers

The Turkish GDP has sky-rocketed, from a mere 232 billion USD in 2001 to 775 billion USD in 2012. The 2002, a single year after Erdoğan took office, the CPI (inflation rate) was around 75%. It has dramatically fallen to 6.51%. The percentage of Turks below the poverty-line has fallen from 20% in 2002 to and held steady at 16.9%. That’s still a very high percentage until you consider the proximity of Turkey to the EuroZone.

A major question is whether the Turkish population has seen this amazing growth and stability or only the rich elite. A key way to measure this is by measuring the life expectancy. This aggregate not only the ballpark of life expectancy, it describes life quality which subsequently describes access to medical services and wealth distribution. The Turkish life expectancy has risen by an aggregate 4 years from 70 years in 2001 to 74 years in 2012.

Erdogan-PeresErdoğan publicly condemning Peres for ongoing Israeli terrorism against Palestinians

Geopolitics

Turkey’s role in major world politics has also seen a dramatic increase.

  • PKK – Erdoğan has been able to work towards legitimate peace with Kurdish rebels. (btw, I was hugged and kissed by group of Kurds during Hajj and love their clothes!)
  • Israel – Turkey weakened its military ties with the terrorist state and publicly condemned Shimon Peres for his oppression of the Palestinian people. One big incident was his outspoken support of the Freedom Gaza Flotilla, which was boarded by Israeli terrorists, resulting in the death of nine peace activists.
  • Syria – Turkey has forged its own independent policy against Assad by supporting the FSA, welcoming Syrian refugees, and the terrorism elements of the Syrian Rebel movements.
  • Broader Muslim World – Turkey is now immensely popular in the broader Muslim World. Turkey is seen as the “central state” of the Turkic people and has expanded its cultural influence. In 2010 following the devastating floods in Pakistan, Emine Erdoğan personally visited Pakistan and helped raise 3.5 million lira for relief efforts. She was awarded the Hilal-e-Pakistan award for her service.

Domestic Relationship with the Secularists

The Muslim-Right in Turkey are not akin to the Christian-Right in the US. It is not the same paradigm of the US religious-right opposing freedom. Its the exact opposite.

Turkey has been a Muslim country since the Seljuk Turks established the Sultanate of Rum (Rome) in 1100AH. But since the Kemalists took power, it has witnessed wide-scale persecution of the religious majority. Women who chose to wear headscarfs or men who wore turbans were forbidden to even enter public facilities, including schools and universities. I personally knew a Sufi Shaykh who was arrested for wearing a Turban in his own house. The Turkish military forced secularism on the government by military coup four times, in 1913, 1971, 1980, and 1997.

A prominent example was in 2001 with Merve Kavakçı, who I’ve twice had the honor of meet. She was democratically elected to parliament, but the radical secularists literally banged on their desks and made distractive noises for 45 minutes in protest of her headscarf until the parliamentary session was terminated. Her party was eventually declared unconstitutional and her citizenship was revoked.

Under Erdoğan, the religious majority has witnessed a return in their rights. They are once again allowed to wear whatever clothes they please and express their faith in public. Cultural repression has ceased and the minority Kurdish population are allowed to return to their heritage. At the same time, this was not done infringed upon the rights of the liberals, who have gone so far as to hold gay pride parades in Taksim Square.

Western Media


The actual Economist’s cover

I live in the West and my primary sources of media are Western. I have seen nothing but sympathetic views towards the protesters and images of police brutality (which, I concede, police are often guilty of committing). Most Westerns are innocently ignorant of Turkey, so they have no frame of reference to interpret the authenticity of what they are hearing.

One oft-repeated fact has been that Turkey has a high number of reporters in prison. However, they fail to provide the full context: that many of the reporters are in prison for making contact with Kurdish rebels groups. I do not disagree that this should not be a crime, but ironically this is a direct result of the secular-nationalist policies of denial of the Kurdish existence!

All major news sources, such as CNN, the Washington Post, New York Times, Slate, Fox News and Russia Today have all spoken of Erdoğan’s increased authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism. Even smaller news sources, such as Cenk Uygar’s The Young Turks, are guilty of the same misinformation. The irony is that, except for a few statements against the hours of alcohol sale (done in the US, mind you), Turkish laws can be characterized as militantly anti-religious!

In short, the media is ignorant speaking to in uninformed public, biased and ultimately unreliable.

Conclusion

Erdoğan and first lady Emine with triplets born at a Syrian Civil War refugee camp

By all commonly agreed upon measures, Turkey has witnessed unprecedented freedom, prosperity, growth, influence, and stability under the leadership of Recep Tayyep Erdoğan. These protesters have no rational basis for their anger. Instead, I would wager that its nothing more than group-think, raw emotion, ignorance.

One thing I would like to add, I sympathize with the protesters in the heavy-handed tactics of the police. I hate abuse in all forms.

I support Erdoğan and you should too.

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