In Turkey, President Erdoğan and his caretaker government’s authoritarian turns are worrying enough but the present explosion of nationalism, hatred and bigotry in society is even more disturbing.
After the 12 year-long rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), with its leaders orchestrating antagonism towards their political opponents, Turkey has already become a deeply polarised country.
Incessant emphasis on Sunni Islam has deepened religious fault-lines. Frequently targeted by politicians, not least the President himself, atheists and Zoroastrians have become not only “the others” but the enemies too.
But as irresponsible and divisive the AKP rule may have been, the increasingly difficult-to-ignore presence of nationalistic, essentially supremacist attitudes cannot be exclusively laid at the government’s door.
What we are witnessing today is a nationalistic realignment; it is not only corroding the foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society, but more importantly, threatening the country’s future unity.
One of the most worrying aspects of the recent flare up of violence by the PKK and the authoritarian reflex of the government, is the growing use of discriminatory language towards the Kurdish-affiliated The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and its supporters.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli’s statement referring to the HDP voters as “dishonourable, whisky-drinking rich people, lounging by the seaside” is beyond contempt.
Yet, he is not alone in using the kind of language which incite and promote hatred based on ethnic prejudices.
Some quick research in conventional and social media would show how potent Turkish nationalism has become.
What compounds the problem is the diversity of people who have lost respect for the dignity of all their fellow citizens.
They can be found among the conservative, right-wing and pious as well as the staunchly secular, urban middle classes.
Those who position themselves at opposite poles in terms of lifestyles and politics seem to be able to easily bind together at the ugly nexus of xenophobia and paranoia.
It is now becoming clear that the battle for Turkey’s future will be between those who believe in equality, dignity and rights for all and others who are naturally joined by one umbilical cord of their banal supremacy.
This post is also available in: Turkish