In Turkey, for most of the people in my generation, who were born in 1980’s, it is very hard to understand and analyze what is happening in Turkey at the moment. Are we threatened by political Islam? Are we going to become Iran? Is a new military coup coming up? And the most important question: Do we have to make a choice between being secular and Islamist in order to survive in Turkey?
Our parents’ generation suffered from military coup consequences so badly that they decided to keep us away from the politics. Therefore we didn’t really feel like active participants of the system. We thought our job was to educate ourselves to get good jobs, love our country through national anthem and our flag, and vote in the elections for the parties that are suggested by elderly family members or by our favorite mainstream newspaper’s columnist’s choice.
I didn’t know what democracy was for a long time. I didn’t know the difference between the state and the government in Turkey. I accepted everything I was taught in public schools without questioning. Until I lived in better working democracies, I had never questioned the fact that I was being raised devoid from analyctical thinking.
I thought more or less everybody would live under similar circumstances in the world. Therefore everyhing I consider abnormal and unfair now, had seemed normal and acceptable back then. Somehow, I thought the state and all its policies were holy. They were not subjected to question by ordinary citizens. Indepedent courts would take care of those kind of serious issues. Who was I to suspect?
Then I started to change through discovering the world. I realized that I live in a democracy and I have rights. All state, parliament and government members, even the officers working for public, are there for me. They are responsible as much as they are authorized. It is my right and responsibility to check on them.
I started paying attention to understand them. What I saw was power struggle. I wanted to go deeper in this analyze, they wanted me to make a choice. The deeper I went, the more dissaponting it got. I have seen so many unsolved problems that has been going on, since Turkey was formed. I saw an army thinks that it is the owner of the country and can intervene in politics whenever and wherever it wants. Then I saw politicians can use anything to get votes. I realized the key factors of getting votes here are religion and nationalism.
I kept researching. Most of the Islamic oriented people wouldn’t call themselves Islamists as the seculars call them. I got surprised. Many of the seculars were somehow practicing Islam, I got amazed. And both sides live very similar every day lives, without touching each other.
If they give a chance to each other, they will see that they are not much different from one another. If there is a Turkish identity as claimed and owned by the majority of population, there has to be a lot of common grounds to reconcile or at least meet as a first step.
Moreover, there are so many people who don’t care about religion as a priority in life. Just because it is imposed that way, they feel like opposing religion. Converting people is a religious behaviour, if one is a modern secular why is the need to change people’s minds? Where does freedom fit in this picture?
I wonder how much of our population can take themselves out of this polarized situtaiton for a while and see that it is just a power game between obvious and hidden actors. I don’t want to live in a so-called democracy anymore, I don’t want the political parties to be closed down for no reason, I don’t want a new military coup, I don’t want the politicians to blame each other only and do nothing about Kurdish issue, Alevites, headscarf, non-muslims, education, health, traffic and so on. I don’t want them to abuse religion and nationalism anymore either. I don’t want Turkey to be ‘holy’ anymore. I just want a ‘normal’ country that can meet up its citizens needs and is ready to be questioned by them any time.
*photo by David Klein