[I was recently interviewed by Javier Méndez about the failed coup in Turkey for an article in Santiago’s El Mercurio newspaper. Here are my answers to his questions.]
Q. After the military coup attemp, Erdogan government has launched an intense repression in Turkey. Has Erdogan the political power to do that?
A. In the aftermath of the failed coup Erdogan’s regime has detained or suspended over 50,000 soldiers, police officers, teachers, civil servants and judges whom he considers to be political enemies. The victims of the purge appear to be people he considers to be influenced by the preacher and former Erdogan ally Fethullah Gulen, now in self-imposed exile in the United States. Erdogan is trying to paint Gulen’s highly secretive but to date peaceful “Hizmet (service)” movement a terrorist organization. It is unclear whether Erdogan has the political capital to pull off this purge. On the one hand he has many supporters who will stand by hm against any opponents, but Gulen also has many followers and the seemingly absurd accusation of terrorism against Gulen’s followers regardless of whether or not they were involved in the coup (an accusation that has yet to be proven) may cause Erdogan’s support among Turkish liberals to erode.
Q. According to your opinion, Is Turkey a real democracy?
A. Turkey is a democracy, albeit a flawed one. However, it is a fragile democracy increasingly threatened by Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism and paranoia.
Q. Do you think that Erdogan strengthens his power?
A. Erdogan has been gradually increasing his power, but this current move may backfire.
Q. In the present situation in Asia and Europe, how important is the role of Turkey respect the war against Islamic terrorism in Syria, Iraq and the refugees problem and relationship with Europe and United States?
A. I reject the framing of the question. There is nothing Islamic about terrorism. Having said that, Turkey has an important role to play in defeating Muslim terrorists in Iraq and Syria not only because it is geographically closer to the problem than America or the rest of Europe but because as a Muslim country (and one with an important role in Muslim history) it is well-placed to demonstrate how terrorism is a violation of Islamic teachings and practice. Unfortunately, Erdogan’s recent actions detract from his credibility in any such enterprise.
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute