Will Erdogan’s Slap in the Face Lead to Real Change in Turkey?

June 10, 2015

2 min read


When your enemies fall, we are told, don’t rejoice. But it’s a bit hard resisting the urge. This evil man, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been rising and growing stronger for nearly a decade and a half. And now, a turning point is taking place before our eyes. He will not be a sultan.

This is good news mainly for Turkey and the Turks. Because global experience shows that wherever political Islam raises its head in the first act, there is destruction in the third act.

In between, Erdogan succeeded in leading Turkey to economic prosperity. But the damage to democracy grew deeper. So did the corruption. Erdogan managed to expel the military, police and legal elite, which was the spinal cord of the secular-democratic state.

Erdogan basically carried out a counter-revolution. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of modern Turkey, led the country out of Islam. Erdogan led it back into Islam.

Erdogan’s growing power was somewhat of a cause for despair, as Turkey has been a symbol of the possibility of Muslims and Jews living together. In the past few centuries, Turkey’s Jews have prospered under the Muslim regime. Local rulers even encouraged Jewish immigration into Turkey, which benefitted both sides. Turkey’s Jews managed to integrate and gain rights – way before Europe’s Jews received similar rights.

So Erdogan, with his blatant anti-Semitic comments, succeeded in destroying a model which had been built over centuries. If Jews and Israel cannot live in peace with the leader of the only democratic Muslim country in the region – there is no chance that it will happen with other countries. And if even Turkey’s leader encourages anti-Semitism – then peace among the nations and among religions turns into a wild dream.

It’s still too early to know whether the setback suffered by Erdogan on Sunday will lead to a real change. Even without the changes in the constitution, which would have turned him into a sultan, he still has too much power. He succeeds in jailing his rivals. Turkey puts journalists in prison. The old elites have been completely excluded from the centers of power. So Erdogan can still cause damage. He is still a tiger. He won’t turn into a poodle.

Erdogan is lost. He won’t change his skin. The question is whether the Turkish people will succeed in changing the pendulum’s direction. The election results show that there is room for cautious optimism.

The anti-Semitism nurtured by Erdogan will not go away soon. But maybe, just maybe, it will start retreating, like the man who led it.

Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News.com

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