By: Yasi Aktay*
We all know that the June 24 elections were followed not only in Turkey but also across the world, with great interest and enthusiasm. Concordantly, our media broadcasted numerous footage and reports from major cities of the world, revealing how enthusiastically the elections were followed by all. However, some foreign centers followed the elections hoping that Erdoğan would lose. However, scenes from across the Muslim world in particular revealed the profoundness, immensity and significance of Turkey and Erdogan’s leadership blatantly.
The reports and footage of prayers from Pakistan, Sudan, Cairo, Gaza, Mecca, Medina, Syria, Iraq and all other Muslim countries before the elections suggested that Turkish elections were taking place far beyond its borders.
After the elections, the common expression of those who called us in jubilance and elation was: “Maybe we could not participate in the elections with our votes, but hopefully our prayers contributed to the results of the polls.” Some people may regard this as an unfair contribution to the competition among the candidates. However, there is no way to prevent anyone from making such a contribution. This is the significance of Erdoğan and Turkey for the world.
Undoubtedly, this great interest and sympathy for Turkey, Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party brought about various meanings, manifestations and results. Today, this interest and prayers in the regions where the AK Party’s electoral victory caused a wave of great excitement and joy is actually an expression of demands and wishes of they expect of their own countries as well. The people of the Arab-Muslim world are envious of Erdoğan’s achievements for his country and they are pushing for the same for their own by showing interest in him.
Regardless of how Europe currently regards Turkey under the governance of Erdoğan, tons of discussions, articles, social media messages on the benefits where a country is ruled through democracy, with open channels to the people’s political participation, in transparency, or at least through free and fair elections are encountered in the Arab world regarding the election results.
Each and every compliment for Turkey is now treated as a wish and demand for democracy. When Montesquieu depicted “eastern despotism” in his literary work “Persian Letters,” he was indirectly criticizing oppression in his own country. He even superfluously exaggerated the despotism of the Iranian governance from time to time, just so to help criticize extreme oppression in his own country.
Because all the depictions of the Iranian despotism were addressed to the circumstances in his own country as criticism (this is actually an Althusser interpretation). Now praises for Turkey has a similar function in many countries. Praise for Turkey turns into a criticism of their own countries. For that reason, there are some countries or media outlets that cannot even stand to hear praise for Turkey.
Cairo was one of the centers where the Turkish elections were closely followed. The interest of the people, of the media and that of the putschist regime were in totally different categories, as was the case in many countries. The Egyptians regarded Erdogan’s electoral victory as their own victory, and many welcomed it as refreshing and comforting in an unbelievably oppressive coup atmosphere, which they have been living in for five years. The Egyptian media, however, continued to broadcast until the last minute, with an inscrutable insistence that the victor of the elections was the main opposition’s presidential candidate Muharrem İnce. Even after the elections were complete and Muharrem İnce accepted the its results, the Egyptian media continued to broadcast that the elections had been rigged and thus tantalized that it will be sooner or later be understood that the true victor of the elections was Muharrem İnce.
As we turn our focus from the elections to Egypt once again, five years have passed since the military coup took place. Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president in Egyptian history, was overthrown by Abdel Fattah El-Sisi with a military coup on July 3, 2013. Three thousand people were killed in a day during fire that was opened against unarmed civilians, who refused to recognize the coup, gathering in dozens of squares across Egypt in protest. A total of nearly 100,000, including the the democratically elected president Morsi, were arrested and more than 60,000 are currently in detention in the most grave prison conditions without ever having stood trial.
Al-Sisi did not like a constitution open to the democratic participation of the people, which was created under the guidance of Morsi, and forced the ratification of another constitution at his discretion that was also to his benefit and closed to democratic participation, thus he was elected twice in a row receiving 97-99 percent of the votes in an election with less than 10 percent of voter turnout.
He first targeted Muslims brotherhood, then pushed all the opposition out of the race. While doing all this, he destroyed the economy, the public’s trust, stability and integrity. At the moment there is no investment environment in Egypt, there is no stability, trust or law. As a matter of fact, all these are interdependent concepts. There isn’t a parliament that can function, control, and represent political diversity, and the interests of the people either. There is no legal system in which people can take shelter against Sisi’s practices. He has all the authority.
However, there is no sincere discomfort, objection or criticism from neither Europe nor from U.S. toward Egypt. These are the kind of regimes deemed proper for the Muslim world by them.
Turkey is the only county that objects to, criticizes or takes stance against the circumstances in Egypt, which perturbs the entire Muslim world. Even if Turkey remains silent, it will create concerns for Egypt and supporters of its current regime due to its current model of governance. That’s why the elections were followed with great interest in Egypt.
The connection between the elections in Turkey and coup in Egypt is not limited to this alone. In fact, a counterpart of the coup staged five years ago in Egypt was also planned for Turkey. The Gezi Park protests were planned in order to obtain the same results and staged with very similar scenarios of the Tamarod movement in Egypt. That scheme resulted in a coup in Egypt, whereas it resulted in failure in Turkey. If it had succeeded, the regime deemed proper for Turkey would be no different than Sisi’s regime, there is no doubt about that. But they did not give up; later they attempted to do the same thing with a different disguise on Dec. 17-25, Oct.6-7, June 7, and last but not least: July 15.
Coincidentally, on June 24, the day Morsi was elected president in 2012, they got their hopes up again. But those hopes bloomed for the oppressed Egyptian people.
*Yasin Aktay was a member of the Turkish parliament and a leading figure of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey. (Published in Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper on 04 July, 2018)