Thursday, February 05, 2015

Blog #1: Deteriorating Democracy in Turkey

Over the last few years, the nation of Turkey has seen a clear decline in its democratic state. No one really expected such a failed attempt in establishing this in the country, for only a few years ago it had been churning to join the European Union while looking forward to becoming a well-oiled democratic machine that focused its efforts on human rights, the discrepancies between Kurdish and non-Muslim citizens, and gender equality. 

It's evident to me that the role of media and its ability to aid the voices of the citizens of Turkey has been muddled by the current leaders of the country; Islamic scholar and author Fethullah Gulen argues that the democratic criticism from independent media organizations have made them victims of the sanctions created by the current ruling party in Turkey, the A.K.P. Several editors and executives have been detained and charged with libel and slander, and Gulen foresees that if every critical opinion comes off as an attack on the state, the leaders may begin to move dangerously close to a totalitarianism as they buckle down on media. 

This eroding democratic state has lessened Turkey's influence around the world, more objectively in the Middle East. Once billowing a positive aura into its dismantled neighbors, the country is now facing an identity crisis as A.K.P officials crack down on the Hizmet organization, members of which include Gulen, a movement with millions of Turkish supporters that rally causes for education and relief efforts. But after expressing their concerns at the 2005 opening of accession negotiations with the European Union, Hizmet faces a long-standing fight with the governing party and are subject to legal harassment and corrupted media alienation. 

This is a change for the worse; the suppression of universal human rights and political voice is the exact opposite of the elements a democratic nation should uphold. For Turkey, this breeches even their reputation of wide tolerance, especially if Hizmet sympathizers in government are being questioned without reason. Unfortunately these changes have been aligned with the religious association in Turkey. However as Gulen argues, no political or religious leader has the authority to take away the basic values in Islam: the rule of law, and respect for individual freedoms. This is true, for the country could indeed lead its troubled region in the world out into a stable environment, but there lies theological justifications for the A.K.P's oppression and corruption, and with its "Red Scare" equivalence, Turkey faces a very turbulent path as more citizens grow silent in fear. 


Salwa Majeed
Thursday, February 2015
9:17 PM

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