Before outlining different steps that can be taken to help Turkey in these turbulent times, I want make two very important points that can’t be emphasized enough:
- This is Turkey’s revolution
- This is NOT a war between secularists and Islamists
Whatever you can do to inform the press and your friends/family of these two facts would be a great start. What I mean when I say ‘this is Turkey’s revolution’ is that it should not be seen only in terms of geopolitics or regional trends. It certainly should not be seen only as it may relate to the strategic or economic interests of the West or the United States in particular — a particularly bad habit of the Western media and its elite benefactors. Moreover, its results (should) depend on and belong to the people of Turkey. Although I am a student in Peace and Conflict Studies, I personally am uncomfortable suggesting any concrete solutions other than, like Noam Chomsky, calling for the end of police repression and for dialogue as opposed to escalating violence. No matter what comes from this uprising, the people of Turkey will have to carry the heaviest burden.
The second point is backed up well by The Nation, which challenges the portrayal of the uprising as a struggle between Islamists led by Erdogan and secularists rooted in the ‘Kemalist’ ideology of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. I don’t have anything to add to it except to bolster its claim that the protesters represent many, if not all, segments of Turkish society and that although Turkey is undoubtedly a Muslim country, its population is largely uninterested in fusing religion and politics and have a strong secular tradition that can be observed just in the media-hyped debate over alcohol regulations, which would be no debate at all in neighboring Iran. What its population is interested in is something not all foreign to the West — democracy. Erdogan, ironically, once represented a big step in that direction by beating back the secular nationalist ‘deep state’ that made puppets out of politicians of any stripe. Now, the people are holding him to account when he behaves in ways reminiscent of the old order — not to mention that these events in Turkey are occurring within the context of a wider regional and, indeed, global trend toward more participatory (people-oriented) democracy that has yet to be modeled anywhere — in my humble opinion — but represents the best work-in-progress I can point to. So I say to anyone who wants to be on the right side of history: view this as the universal, human struggle that it is and take up whatever (nonviolent) means you have at your disposal to win it!