- As in 1908-1912, journalists are at the center of the government’s rage.
- “They [journalists from Turkey’s leading newspaper, Hurriyet] had never had a beating before. Our mistake was that we never beat them in the past. If we had beaten them…” — Abdurrahim Boynukalin, Member of Parliament from the governing AKP Party.
- Last week, Ahmet Hakan, Hurriyet’s popular columnist, who has 3.6 million Twitter followers, was beaten by four men, three of whom happened to be AKP members. Hakan had to undergo surgery. Of the seven men involved in allegedly planning and carrying out the attack, six were immediately released.
- The mob confessed to the police that they had been commissioned to beat Hakan on orders from important men in the state establishment, including the intelligence agency and “the chief.”
- Hundreds of Turkish and Western politicians have publicly condemned the attack on Hakan. Except President Erdogan. Hardly surprising.
In 1908, the Ottoman Empire, under the new name of The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), transformed into an autocratic establishment openly threatening its critics, especially journalists. In 1910, three prominent journalists, Hasan Fehmi, Ahmet Samim and Zeki Bey, who were leading opponents of the regime, were murdered. Several other journalists were beaten by thugs commissioned by the CUP.
In the election three years later, when the party lost its parliamentary majority, its leaders declared that election null and void. Soon mobs, often holding batons in their hands, “guarded” ballot boxes. Miraculously, the CUP vote rose to 94 percent! Victory, however, did not bring good fortune to the party. Its leaders would eventually have to flee the country.
More than a century later, in 2015, Turkey’s new autocratic regime, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since it came to power in 2002. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan practically declared the polls null and void, as in 1911, and called for renewed elections on Nov. 1. And just as in 1908-1912, journalists are at the center of the government’s rage.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, Turkey has seen a collapsed empire, the birth of a modern state, a one-party administration, multi-party electoral system, several elections, three military coups, civil strife along political and ethnic lines, oppression by one ideology or another and dozens of political leaders. But one feature of Turkey’s political culture persistently remains: Violence.
President Erdogan is probably not too unhappy. He may think that the deeper the political polarization, the stronger his loyalists will feel attached to him. Hundreds of Turkish and Western politicians have publicly condemned the attack on Hakan. Except Erdogan. Hardly surprising.
Full article: Turkey’s Thugocracy (Gatestone Institute)