Binary Oppositions of Turkey

turkey-headscarf-ban_65Turkish politics appear to be shaped around dangerously driven binary oppositions in the last few years dividing the public opinion as pros and cons. “Headscarf Vs Mini-skirt”, “Islamic Green Vs Military Green” and finally geographic expansion of controversies, “Europe Vs Middle East” had long occupied headlines and fragmented the society.

Although the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had the majority of votes as a single party in the last national elections, Turkey haven’t appeared to bare such thick lines between the opposition groups since late 1970s when the atrocities between the right and left wing parties ended by an anti-democratic military coup of 1980.

First, the “Headscarf Vs Miniskirts” binary opposition was erupted in the first months of 2008 when the AKP government was selected in 2007 for its second term during the national elections. As a highly divisive subject in Turkey, first to be brought in the parliament was to allow the use of headscarves in public space.

 Subsequently, despite the opposition of Turkish secularists including journalists, academicians and Turkish military members, the constitutional amendments easing the ban on women wearing headscarves in public spaces had been approved by the AKP- majority parliament. turkey-eu

While the smoke of “headscarf fire” wasn’t cooled down yet, in the same year of 2008, “Deep State” trial, so-called Ergenekon case had polarised the country, accusing the Turkish Army allegedly to topple Turkey’s Islamist-rooted government. This ongoing trial against Turkey’s secular establishment had divided public opinion on the legitimisation of justice and merged another binary opposition of “Islamist Green Vs Military Green.”

In the last row, Turkey, while forging closer ties with the Middle Eastern countries, lead the eye brows raised on its EU-bid and the rapprochement was questioned whether its foreign policy is leaning towards the East rather than the West. Although, Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insistently deny claims of distancing the country from Europe and rather keeping on a romantic relationship with its “Muslim brothers”, political statements prove the change in priorities of the government.

The cancelled trip of Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, who is charged of war crimes by the International Criminal Court relatively, relieved the Turkish society in fear of losing international credibility in the eyes of European Union. However, government statements were quite concerning on what the AKP was standing for.

“A Muslim can never commit genocide,” had said Turkish Prime Minister, while bringing Al Bashir’s religious identity prior to its ill-humanist character.

Again on the same occasion, amid the debates over Al Bashir, responding to EU’s warning over the issue, Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s statement: “What are they interfering for?” clearly demonstrated that EU is not a binding institution for Turkish government. As an obvious stance, AKP’s foreign policy choices spark another geographically discussed binary opposition of Turkey: “Europe Vs Middle East.”

Dangerously enough, all the oppositions are mostly driven by the religious character of AKP government. It would be sad to see Turkey squeezed in the “Clash of Civilizations” as American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington had described and placed Turkey as a “torn country.”

What is to be scared of more is that on the final stage, Turkey would be discussing “Us Vs Them” which would not only further estrange Turkey from global arena but also would create a domestic atrocity in defining what “Us” would stand for.

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