The scenes from the Tahrir square of the Egyptian revolution have impressed millions around the world for what was called back then the power of the people against tyranny. However, as months progressed the scenes lost their sheen eventually because of the negative repercussions of the Egyptian revolution on Egypt,its economy and social standards. Instead of the revolution paving way for a liberal rule and an open society and economy, the exact opposite took place in Egypt and the most radical of religious conservatives and extremist ran the show for Egyptians. The end result is an economy in tatters and a society that is divided more than any time in recorded history. Egyptians are frustrated by the rule of Islamists like Muslim Brotherhood and their unholy allies the Salafis.
The same Islamists who pretended that they take Turkey as a role model for how an Islamist model can be successful, but they initially shunned Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan during his visit in Egypt after calling secularism as the key to the success of Turkey in a political maneuver he later proved not to be his real conviction as he is attempting to Islamize Turkey gradually.
Egyptian Islamists once ridiculously demanded that Erdogan would be the new Caliph for Muslims in a sign of complete lack of patriotism or even awareness of the modern world affairs. They were shocked about Erdogan statements about secularism despite he didn’t real believe in them. Now they are in full force behind him in the current crisis as he displayed some of the tyrannical and autocratic moves they are always passionate about.
Aside from the fact that the Egyptian Islamists are far from being as clever as their Turkish counterparts, they have neglected the fact that the Turkish Islamists didn’t build anything from scratch, in fact most of their work was reforming on the base that secularists have laid for decades. Also they kept the secularist values of the Turkish nations till recently when their continuous economic success led them to believe that it’s time for the final phase for the Islamization of Turkey to be initiated.
Rise of the AKP party in Turkey
AKP Party (Justice and development Party- JDP) was formed by Prime Minister Erdogan and incumbent Turkish president Abdullah Gül who became the part leader of it in 2001. This was considered a second generation Islamist party based on the efforts of their role model the late former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan (1926-2011) Turkey’s first Islamist Prime Minister who had 3 of his parties dissolved by court orders . In 1997, Erabakan was forced by Turkish Army to step down. Erabakan was an advocate of changing the secular nature of Turkey to an Islamist one and the Turkish courts found him and party guilty of promoting Islamic Fundamentalism. Erabakan’s Refah Party (welfare party) was doomed for banning similar to other political entities he formed like Virtue Party and others. Both Erabakan and his protégée current PM Erdogan were influenced in their ideology by the teachings by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed El Banna (1906-1949)
Erdogan in 2013 has finally unveiled the true face of his Islamist (Political Islam) nature and that the moderation he was claiming for over a decade was merely a façade to cover a systematic disassembly of the secularist nature of Turkey and the gradual installation of an Islamist regime. Backed by huge economic successes (much of which based on former regimes work) which shifted Turkey from an ailing economy to the top 15 countries in the world.
The Egyptian Islamists side of the equation has been marveled by the Turkish experience and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have been claiming false victories based on their Turkish counterparts efforts.They even named their party “Freedom and Justice Party FJP” synanmous with the Justice and Development party. Moreover, as most Egyptian Islamists lacking creativity several other parties were named in the same way like “Building and development” related to terrorist Gamaa Islamiya or the Islamic Group.
The Taksim Square Confrontation
Erdogan thought that he can buy out the people’s freedoms with economic reforms and improving their average wage which increased about 5 times. On the other hand , he was stripping them from their freedoms inch by inch and imposing a pattern of Islamization on the society that became more apparent with the widespread of women head scarf and beards in men. While these are integrally part of the freedom of choice but the newly bans on alcohol during in certain restaurants and club from times past 10 pm to 6 am in Istanbul’s bustling nightlife area Beyoglu district was perceived as an infringement to the citizens freedom of choice. Furthermore, it correlates to the Islamization pattern that Erdogan’s and his party AKP are trying to impose against the will of a major chunk of the nation.
Throughout the past years , the western media has been celebrating Erdogan’s democratic nature and blessing his economic growth while neglecting the fact that Turkish society is becoming more divided that ever.
The Turkish government seemed to be provoking more animosities from neighbouring countries like Syria as well as their continuous and military crossing the Iraqi borders in the Kurdish parts of Iraq. Erdogan and interfering in regional issue seeking a more imperial role in region instead of facing the troubles back home with the Kurdish issue not resolved among other freedom affairs.
As some have already described Turkey as the biggest prison in the world for Journalists hundreds of journalists have been incarcerated and 73 still imprisoned. Furthermore, countless publications and periodicals have been shut down all of them are opposition publications. It’s a fact that Freedom of press in Turkey are in an abysmal status. Mentioning these facts at has been surprising that a lot of Western governments and media have been praising in a worshipful manner Erdogan democracy and great deeds while looking the other way to the infringements of human rights committed by his regime.
The unemployment rates in Turkey are at 9.2 on February 2013 according to http://www.tradingeconomics.com online portal. This may not be a staggering number considering the current world economic status but it’s still represents a huge challenge for country that has surpassed 70 million in p population. Hence the pressure was on the government to care about the internal affairs and curb on the external adventures.
Throughout the past 3 years and especially after the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East , Erdogan has been showering the Arab world and their leaders with what he believes as words of wisdom. He became the first leader in the world to ask former Egyptian President to listen to his people and step down. Other matters include continuous interference in internal issues even for good causes but his manner became very provocative to many governments in the middle east who believed that his interference is a method to spread Turkish and Ottoman styled hegemony over the region.
Erdogan provoked Turkish masses by insisting to demolish the historical Park of Gezi at the famous Taksim square in the middle of Istanbul and replacing it with a huge shopping mall and mosque. This has angered a lot of environmentalists as well as right wing nationalists and leftists group in opposition of destroying a historical site over a shopping Mall. What was a simple Sit-in protest was dealt with extreme brutality from the police force which angered the protestors and they came back in massive numbers and managed to oust the police from the Taksim square area. A similar scene to what happened in January 28th 2011 in Tahrir.
At the first test for real tolerance towards other’s views, Erdogan acted in an even worse manner than most of the leaders whom he criticized throughout the years. Ironically, Mubarak never called the Egyptian protestors names like Erdogan did call their Turkish counterparts “Vandals, Looters, corrupt, secular enemies….” Actually Mubarak with each of 3 speeches in the 18 days of the revolution gave concessions to the public and the protestors including not running as candidate for another election. Yet it wasn’t enough for the protestors. On the contrary, Erdogan is acting like a Sultan and thinking he will outsmart everyone while provoking his opposition and calling them names.
What started as a small protest over the Gezi Park turned to a nationwide protest and riots. Young men and women who comprise most of the protestors have actually called their own Taksim as their own Tahrir square relating to the famous square in Cairo where the spark of the Egyptian revolution was ignited. Coincidently, they gathered their huge numbers to occupy that square and the neighbouring disputed Gezi Park in the Istiklal Avenue which means independence similar to Tahrir which is the Arabic word for it as well.
Throughout the crisis, Erdogan acted as third world tyrant and called the protestors negative names and even threatened that his supporters can take the streets and counter the “OccupyGezi” movement as well as the protests that spread in over 20 Turkish cities and towns demanding him to step down and organize an early election.
Ankara-based Human Rights Association have mentioned that close to 1,000 people have been injured and more than 3,300 people have been detained in the first week of the protest which displays the growing magnitude of this revolt against Erdogan’s growing ambitions and continuous Tyranny.
Moreover, The Turks are once again united against Erdogan regime. People of all backgrounds have turned into a protesting force against a regime that is trying to hijack the achievements of the hard working Turkish people to its favour. They are using Turkish resources to quell their ambitions for a truly free and democratic society.
It’s not a secret that Erdogan and his ruling party have been encouraged by the early successes and the rise of Islamists in other Middle Eastern countries like Egypt and Tunisia. This encouragement have led them believe that they can control the country in every possible manner and influence other Middle Eastern nations in the process.
However, little did they know that in these very countries, people are rising against these regimes and even in Egypt ultimatums by rebels have been given to the regime on June 30th 2013 for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to step down and call for a new election. Egyptians have imitated a campaign called “Tamarod” which is the Arabic for Mutiny against Morsi’s and his Muslim Brotherhood Regime. This campaign has been mimicked this week in Turkey by protestors demanding that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would step down and call for a new election.
Middle East Decisive Battle for Secularism
The significance of what’s happening in Turkey is likely to be huge as the most powerful stronghold of Islamist rule in the Middle east is likely to fail. Also its systematic Islamization is facing a tough battle versus the secularists who believe that religion of any kind should remain to be a personal matter. Secularist reject that religion be manipulated by politicians and tyrants to curb on people’s ambitions and personal freedom under pretext of upholding religious beliefs.
The results of the events in Turkey will have a rippling effect on the rest of the Middle East especially in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Islamists in these countries have been facing tough times to due to their lack of expertise in handling politics aside from their tyrannical and oppressive methods they used after winning the confidence of the people. They have betrayed that confidence to a huge extent and most of those who voted for them regret the day they did.
The Turkish nation is more important than Erdogan and his AKP despite their initial economic success but a great nation like Turkey with its thousands of years heritage will not depend on the fate of Erdogan or any other. The great Turkish nation is able to continue its path for development while maintaining their hard earned personal freedoms that Erdogan and his party wish to strip them from inch by inch.
What we are witnessing now is another instance of history when a relatively small personal matter can turn into a major change in history . The Assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand sparked the first World War which consequently led to another worse Second World War resulting in over 100 Million deaths. On a smaller scale denying a brave African American women by the name of Rosa Sparks a seat in the bus and her resistance to leave her seat for a white man and sit on the back, changed the world and sparked the famous “Montgomery Bus Boycott” which eventually led to the great civil rights movement managed to acquire the African American and other minorities equal rights like their whites counterparts in the USA.
Finally, in December 17th 2010 a poor young grocer in a small village in Tunisia by the name of Mohamed El Boazizi was trying to make a living and sell some grocery to feed his family but he was captured by police and a policewomen slapped him , confiscated his cart and goods. He lost his mind and set fire in himself. That fire was not just set in him but it caught up in the rest of Tunisia and eventually the rest of the Middle East and changed regimes in 4 different countries Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen aside from its global effect on the protests and riots all around the world.
Now Taksim Gezi Park demolition may spark the end of the Islamists rise and the fall of their halo and sheen as holy people who are close to God in the eyes of the masses. Their role model regime has acted in the most tyrant of ways apprehending activists blindly and accusing them of acting as instigators of violence. Even Twitter and Social media users were not spared and dozens were rounded and arrested with accusations of instigation.
The real face of the Turkish Islamists is unveiled and their act of modernity and moderation is no longer sellable to the masses. Erdogan may have raised the standard of living for many Turks but he is demanding now that they pay the bill with their freedom and accept to be caged in a gilded cage with the key in his own pocket.
The results of the current uprising in Turkey are unknown but one of the most certain results is that the halo around Erdogan is over and a clear message was sent to him and all Islamists in Middle East alike that even great economic achievements are not an excuse for any government to limit the people’s freedoms or force a government endorsed pattern of life upon them regardless of how great it can be But one thing is for sure that many Middle Easterners have had enough of the Islamist rule and are opting for more open and liberal ideologies.
The protests in Turkey is considered to be a decisive battle for the Middle East either it can be a Waterloo for Islamists who are creating their propaganda based on the so called Turkish Islamists model. Also it can be D-Day (Battle of Normandy) to secularist in Turkey and the entire Middle East especially in Egypt and Tunisia as a breakthrough to get things back in order and to retrieve these nations from the abyss that the Islamists has taken them to.