Just when you thought that Turkey could not get more frightening under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamic parties, you get a story like this one. Turkish lawmakers were debating Erdogan’s effort to adopt an Islamic constitution and further increase his authoritarian powers. A member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) sought to quote Oscar Wilde when members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) objected that they had no idea who Wilde is and thought he was quoting from the Oscar movie awards. When the meaning was made clear, these Erdogan drones objected that it was a reference from a Western source. Of course, as Wilde noted, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”
HDP deputy Mithat Sancar was met by confusion from AKP deputies who fulfilled every stereotype of Erdogan’s supporters as religious conservatives with little knowledge of the world or influences outside of Islam. AKP deputy Zeyid Aslan demanded to know “Who is he?” while others tried to figure out about the Oscars have to do with becoming an Islamic state. HDP deputy Burcu Çelik Özkan tried to help out by explaining “It’s Oscar Wilde. He is not an award, he is a man called ‘Oscar Wilde.”
The most chilling comments came from deputies like AKP deputy Halis Dalkılıç who asked “Do you not have any examples from this culture, this civilization?” Of course, “this civilization” is meant to refer to Turkey and Islam to the exclusion of the West. It is the inevitable result of Erdogan’s attack on secular principles and the embrace of Islamic political parties.
It was a telling moment that captured the ignorance and intolerance of these religious parties. After all, you would think that Erdogan would identify with Oscar Wilde’s most famous statement given Erdogan’s gathering of authoritarian powers: “I can resist everything except temptation.”