Turkey’s secular elite often likes to pose to outsiders as the defenders of a democratic and secular order in Turkey against a creeping Islamism they claim is the real agenda of the ruling AK party.
In reality, the secular elite are nothing more than champions of a status quo that favors their control over the country at the expense of real democracy and entrepreneurial Turks.
The secular elite owe their position, many of them, to an order born in the days of Kamel Mustafa “Ataturk”. For all their talk of being champions of democracy, their idol-like worship of “Ataturk” is unbecoming for believers in constitutional democracy. Democracy is not about kings, democracy is, as a great American Tom Paine once wrote, where “the law is king.”
Besides their unhealthy love of “Ataturk,” there is also the generals. The elite, many of them generals, seems not be un-phased by the generals’ coups against democratic government on the grounds that their action protects democracy. Protecting democracy through overthrowing democratic governments, huh?
So their credentials are quite weak. And their attacks on the AK unfounded. The AK has governed as a secular party that only wants to secure the freedoms of pious Muslims to practice their faith in public buildings. Muslim women wear headscarves in U.S. buildings, why not in Turkey? The secular elite distorts democratic principles and secular practices to engage in religious discrimination. But most members of the secular elite probably do not really fear that the AK party is trying to turn Turkey into a theocracy. They know that a prosperous Turkey with hopes of joining the EU will not be taken down that path, even if the AK wanted and most of its members do not. The secular does not believe its own propaganda because it knows its ridiculous. Instead they seek to stroke those fears because what this is about all is their power grab on the country, what they really fear is losing power to the new pious class:
“The deeper worry among Turkey’s secular elite is not about creeping Islam but over a loss of power to an encroaching class of pious bureaucrats and entrepreneurs that has become increasingly visible since Turgut Ozal, a modernising former prime minister, liberalised the economy after the generals’ third and most recent direct coup in 1980.”
Turkey’s secular needs to embrace real democracy and end their entitlement to dominant the country not on merit but solely on…entitlement. If they really love Turkey, then they need to share it with the new class of pious Turks.