a real Arab Summer in Turkey?
Anti-Erdogan rallies are sweeping Turkey in the fiercest demos in years as protestors bash their leader’s Islamic policies. Turkey was long a secular bastion in this area of the world and while it was ruled by secular leaders and with secular policies was one of our (Israel’s) closest allies. All that changed when Erdogan and his Islamist party came into power.
As Erdogan and his minions have been forcing increasingly strident rules on the people, in line with hard-line Islamist policy, the people are getting fed up. His party has vowed to outlaw alcohol and has already placed limits on its consumption –in a country where Raki (a clear brandy made from grapes and raisins, flavored with pungent anise. Most is quite potent –80- to 100-proof/40% to 50% alcohol– and thus usually diluted with water and sipped with snacks or meals) has long alternated with beer as the official national drink. He has transformed Turkey from a democracy based on rule of law into an increasingly dictatorial state rooted in religion. Erdogan has forced Turkey’s minority Alevis to attend Sunni religious classes, and he has flushed women from top levels of the state bureaucracy, advising them that instead of pursuing a career they should have at least three babies and ideally more. And Turkish women today find not just their careers at risk, but their lives as honor killings are no longer being prosecuted.
If the protests that are sure to continue through the summer are able to successly over-turn Erdogan and turn back the clock to restore a secular democracy, then we will see not the Arab Winter that resulted from the much-hailed Arab Spring protests in Egypt and Libya etc., but a real warm and vibrant Arab Summer in Turkey.