I recently posted a blog column on the troubling image of President Donald Trump calling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on his success in securing what are viewed as near dictatorial powers in the close recent referendum. Erdogan did not waste any time in using the powers. Turkish police have arrested 1,000 people suspected of being supporters of Erdogan’s main opponent, US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
We have followed the rapid destruction of the secular government and civil liberties in Turkey under the authoritarian rule of Erdogan. Erdogan used the recent failed coup to push his effort to create a de facto Islamic regime and to complete his work in arresting his critics, including forcing the resignation of thousands of secular academics, and suspending all civil liberties in a proclaimed state of emergency. Previously, Erdogan threatened the United States if it didn’t hand Gulen over to him and that a failure to yield to his demands would be a “big mistake.” He also ordered the round up of journalists despite the fact that journalists helped him stay in power during the coup by bravely continuing to broadcast during the coup.
Thousands of opponents are now being arrested or questioned under those newly acquired powers. Thousands of teachers have been fired under Erdogan and tens of thousands detained since his rise to power.