middle east

middle east

FAILED COUP IN TURKEY - Erdogan, Gulen and the Death of Islamic Secularism

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The 2016 attempted coup d'etat against Erdogan may have wide ramifications for the Turkey, the region, and the future of Islamic secularism... A number of you guys have asked for a video about the recent coup attempt in Turkey. And there is no doubt that this is an important thing to talk about. It matters because of what it will mean for Turkey's internal politics. And given that Turkey is vital regional power in the region, it matters for the entire Middle East. So, in this video I'll talk about what some of the likely consequences of the failed coup will be for the country, discuss the key players, and ask a question I believe to be essential to any robust discussion of Turkish politics... Where are the Secularists? July 15th, 2016. An attempted coup d'etat is underway in Turkey. Over 300 people are killed and more than 2,100 are injured. While President Erdogan releases a facetime message urging his supporters into the streets in protest—an ironic move considering his previous reactions to protestors—those behind the coup attempt have their own message for the country. “The Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights, and freedom” And that message turned out to be wrong for several reasons. First, they clearly did not take over the entire administration, and the coup ultimately failed. Second, they did not really speak for the entire Turkish Armed Forces, as the military seemed split between pro- and anti-Erdogan forces. Third, whether or not the attempt was to secure constitutional order, human rights, and freedom is actually questionable, but more on that later... First let's talk about the people who sent out this message. They call themselves the “Peace At Home Council”, a clear reference to a quote by Kamal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish state and pretty much the architect of Secularism in the Muslim world. And that later accomplishment is no small feat. When Ataturk established Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottomon empire, the state he was replacing was the opposite of a secular government: it was, in point of fact a theocracy. A secular government is one which is totally neutral to religion. One in which, to quote the American constitution, there is “no religious test” for office, and in which, to quote Thomas Jefferson, there is a “wall of separation” between the government and religious institutions. A theocracy, on the other hand, is a government that is essentially tied to a religion. For example, Ancient Egypt, in which the Pharaohs were considered God-Kings, or even Great Britain under the rule of King George, a monarch who was also the head of the country's official religion. A more modern example would be North Korea, in which the authoritarian tyrant is locally considered to be something more than a mere human being. The Ottoman empire was also a sort of theocracy. It was a caliphate: an empire ruled by a Caliph, or “heir”. Heir to whom? The prophet Mohammed himself: founder of both Islam and the first Islamic empire. So, secularism is a precious thing in Turkey. And from time to time, the military has had to step in to reinvigorate Kemalism in the country. And certainly, the military might have seen reasons to step in to remove Erdogan. Since 2003, he has largely controlled politics in Turkey, first as Prime Minister and now as President. He has been criticized for cracking down on protestors, silencing the press, and electoral fraud. He has also overseen a revival of Ottoman traditions and has embraced Islamist-rooted politics. In sum, he is no friend to secularists. In reaction to the coup, there were mass arrests, with at least 6,000 people detained including 2,839 soldiers and 2,745 judges. Educators have also been attacked, with 21,000 teachers loosing their licences and 15,000 educators suspended. Erdogan seems to be tightening his already iron grip over turkey, and relations with ...