Շաբաթ, 13. 04. 2024

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Elif Shafak For “The Guardian”: It Is Difficult To Be Armenian In Turkey

Turkey is no longer simply politically polarized. It is now bitterly divided into two planets: those who support and will continue to support the president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and those who are, for a variety of reasons, against him.

 Erdoğan is the most divisive politician in Turkey’s modern political history, Turkish famous writer Elif Shafak writes in an article published in the Guardian.

She says amid the political turmoil in Turkey this week, culminating in the prime minister’s announcement that he’ll stand down within days, it was Oscar Wilde who became the subject of a heated debate in the Turkish parliament. A member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said he wanted to quote a line from Wilde. A deputy from the ruling AKP party objected to the idea of citing someone who was neither Muslim nor Turkish. Yet another AKP member confused the Irish author with the Oscars.

When they are not debating Wilde, MPs are busy exchanging blows. During a discussion to strip them of their immunity – a deliberate amendment that might lead to the trial and incarceration of Kurdish MPs – Garo Paylan, an Armenian deputy, was kicked, punched and subjected to hate speech by several AKP members. Paylan said: “What they can’t digest is this: a person of Armenian identity reveals their lies and stands upright.”

“It is hard to be an Armenian in Turkey. Or a Kurd, or an Alevi, or gay, or a Jew, or a woman, or someone who just doesn’t agree with what is happening in the country”, Shafak writes. “Diversity has been stifled. Freedom of speech has been abandoned. An “ideology of sameness” dominates the land which is shaped by Turkish nationalism, Islamism and authoritarianism” she said.

Referring to Davutoglu’s resignation Shafak says Erdoğan wants to change Turkey into a presidential regime with a monopoly of power. She writes that opposition is fragmented, scattered, and demoralized in the country. Media is too heavily monitored. Turkey tops the countries demanding content removal from Twitter.

“Everything is shifting in Turkey – and very fast. We Turks live with a feeling of “what now?”, knowing that every day something new happens. The central components of democracy – such as separation of powers, rule of law, freedom of speech – are all but broken” the writer says.

She identifies three major dangers: an absolutist monopoly of power; the total collapse of the Turkish-Kurdish peace process and the loss of secularism.

“In the past we had a solid tradition of black humor. Politics was always rough, but it was OK for the people to laugh at politicians. Not anymore. Recent research shows that only half of Turkey’s people think it OK to criticize the government publicly. When Angela Merkel allows German comedians to be sued by Erdoğan, it is a clear message to Turkey’s democrats: “You are all alone”, Elif Shafak stated.

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