Turkey’s rising dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has prevailed from a military coup — a victory claimed in the name of the very democracy that Erdogan has been systemically disassembling. We have followed the ruin brought to the once fledging democracy of Turkey by Erdogan. His government has arrested the very journalists that he counted on to spread the word of his resistance, including Western reporters like Dutch journalist, Ebru Umar, a well-known atheist and feminist journalist. Umar wrote a piece critical of Erdoğan for the Dutch daily Metro, extracts of which she then tweeted. Her last tweet chillingly said “Police at the door. No joke.” Now, with the support of the United States and opposition parties, Erdogan has cloaked himself as the very personification of freedom and is clearly moving to wipe out any remaining opposition in the military and country with the justification of the coup. While no one should support a military coup, we should not delude ourselves: a dictator has survived and democracy in Turkey will die with his rise.
We have seen the erosion of all civil liberties in Turkey after the election of Erdoğan and his coalition of Islamic parties. This has also included the arrest of Mehmet Emin Altunses, 16, who allegedly committed the crime of “insulting” Erdoğan. calling people who use birth control “traitors” and saying Muslims discovered America, you are not allowed to be disrespectful or insulting in discussing Erdoğan. Then there was the prosecution of model and former Miss Turkey Merve Buyuksarac, 26, for criticizing Erdogan for quoting a few lines from a poem called the “Master’s Poem” from weekly Turkish satirical magazine Uykusuz. Erdoğan’s totalitarian measures have earned him the nickname “Buyuk Usta” (the Big Master). Even a joking reference to Gollum and Erdoğan is enough to land you in jail today in Turkey.
Erdoğan has already used the coup to focus on this nemesis Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in Pennsylvania and a critic of his autocratic rule. It is likely that the Obama Administration, which has continued its absolute support for Erdogan as he has cracked down on journalists and critics, will be asked to take actions against Gulen, 75. Glen is an imam who went into exile to the United States in 1999 and settled in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. What is clear is that Erdogan is already using the coup attempt to consolidate power and eliminate what few restrictions remained on his power. Indeed, some have suggested that the entire coup was staged or encouraged secretly by Erdogan precisely to serve as his catalyst for a final push toward authoritarian control.
Erdogan was saved largely by mosques calling out the faithful into the streets. Some of those Erdogan supporters reported beheaded an unarmed soldier after he surrendered. Others were shown beating unarmed soldiers as Erdogan political allies called for the “ultimate punishment” of those involved in the coup.
Erdogan, our key ally, has now promised to “cleanse” the military — a threat understood to mean that the secular military will now be filled with his Islamic supporters. In the meantime, the United States will continue to support the man who has destroyed the only true secular democracy in an Arab nation.