By: Hilal Kaplan*
When the U.S.’s pretense of weapons of mass destruction to invade Iraq was exposed, it changed it to the argument of exporting democracy. Today, by looking at the current situation in Iraq, it is enough to realize that democracy is not something that can be exported by force of arms, and the U.S.’s main aim was actually not to export democracy to Iraq.
Turks have not forgotten what happened to the people of Egypt who democratically elected a government in 2013 for the first time in 60 years after the country had got rid of British protectorate status. They also have not forgotten that Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi killed thousands of unarmed civilians who were on the streets to protest the imprisonment of President Mohammed Morsi and his friends who had not killed a single civilian. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, however, described the events as restoring democracy.
They have not forgotten that Sisi was welcomed with a red carpet by some European leaders and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was applauded loudly at the Davos summit when he objected with his well-known “one minute” remark.
Therefore, Turks have a collective memory of what Westerners intend to say when the subject is democracy.
Two weeks ago, Turkey repelled a deadly coup attempt with the great support of the people and Erdoğan’s leadership. However, mainstream Western media portrays Turks as brutal, when they actually defended their democracy on the streets and did not let a military junta take control of the legal government.
On the night of July 15, no shop was looted, no one intruded onto private property and no one fought with one other, but there are still some Western journalists that describe those who made a unique mark in history by defending their country’s democracy as a violent mob just because some of them punched some of the coup soldiers who opened fire on them that night.
The same journalists had overpraised those who attended the Gezi Park protests in which a lot of shops, buses and police cars were burned and many media buildings were attacked. I wonder if it is just because those who stood against the tanks on the night of July 15 shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is the greatest) while walking toward the tanks.
Actually, according to these media outlets, Erdoğan is a leader that has to apologize for resisting the barbaric coup attempt instead of accepting his ouster. Muslims believe there is a blessing in everything, but these media outlets misuse the understanding.
Erdoğan, who would not even be alive today if he had not left his hotel 15 minutes before coup forces entered the hotel room where he had been staying with his family, including his 9-year-old grandchild, is struggling against the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ), which pointed its gun at the people and him.
That is why Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım declared the state of emergency and the vast majority of Turks, who have been on streets to stand with their state, support this decision.
If the real problem was Turkish democracy, the U.S. Embassy would not describe the deadly coup attempt as a “Turkish uprising” and Kerry would say that the Turkish people stand with democracy, not with peace. Also, the official account of the Department of Consular Affairs would not immediately recognize the authority of the coup plotters and would choose a more repressive word like “order” instead of the sentence, “Martial law and curfew have been imposed.”
All things aside, Western states and media outlets’ caring about the suspended coup plotters more than those who died on the night of July 15 reminds me of the Turkish saying: “If a wolf sets its mind on eating a lamb, the rest is details.” But it is good to bring up that democracy and right of independence is not a detail for the people of Turkey. This time, we are determined not to let the wolf eat the lamb.
* Hilal Kaplan is a Turkish columnist. She writes for Daily Sabah Turkish newspaper.
(Published in Daily Sabah, on July 29, 2016)