ABDULLAH – Robbing Turkey of its values

Robbing Turkey of its valuesThe most significant damage the greedy political Islamists in Turkey have inflicted upon the nation is not the graft in billions of dollars of unearned income, but rather the erosion of the countryand#39s very values in terms of democratic principles, social justice and loss of ethics and moral principles in the governance of the country, while appearing to tolerate rising religious extremismIn other words, Islamists who claim to be conservative, pious and religious have robbed the nation of the values the religion of Islam espouses that are very much enshrined in the democratic system of government in todayand#39s world, from respecting the rule of law to the inviolability of fundamental rights. The corrupt and crooked politicians who disguise themselves as Islamists have utterly betrayed the nationand#39s values in favor of amassing their personal wealth through bribery and influence peddling schemes.

They have established an unprecedented patronage system to benefit their allies and partners in crime while marginalizing a large number of groups in Turkey with debilitating hate speech.The reason why the government is unable to resolve the problems facing Turkey today is that it lost its ability and capacity to cope with challenges when it destroyed the value-based system, which in turn undermined public confidence.

The partisan control of state institutions and appointing political lackeys to key positions with a blatant disregard for merit and qualifications have paralyzed the government and led to a highly cumbersome bureaucracy. Now Islamists are eyeing the justice system as their next prize jewel to consolidate their power after dominating the legislative and executive branches.

Regrettably the government has gone a considerable way toward controlling the judiciary, with a series of controversial laws it has pushed through Parliament. The independent judges in the higher judiciary are trying to resist the governmentand#39s attempts to control the judiciary.

For that, members of the higher criminal and administrative appeals courts as well the Constitutional Court have been viciously attacked by the government and their propagandist media with defamation campaigns.The governmentand#39s winning the seats on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) — the key judicial council that decides on the promotion, appointment and investigation of the members of the judiciary — was a major setback that allowed more partisan interests to enter into the justice system Since then, the rate of abuse of the criminal justice system to punish critics and opponents has increased.

What is more, the erosion of the values of respecting truth and ethics in the judiciary has further complicated matters for Turkey. It started preventing democratic forces, be it opposition political parties, civil society, media or interest groups, from flourishing.

Turkeyand#39s top Islamist, President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan, who was incriminated in a massive corruption network last year, and his co-conspirators in the government keep filling the judiciary with their supporters, in the hope that they will escape from their legal troubles through the loyalists they put in the sectorThis has undermined the publicand#39s confidence in the government and the judicial system and increased the democratic deficit and disillusionment with the political system The closure of democratic space for opposition and critics who exercise their right to dissent is the ultimate casualty when loyalist judges and prosecutors start doing the bidding of political masters as part of a witch hunt that was blatantly and unashamedly declared by ErdoIan in a public speech.The faction of political Islamistsand#39 who dominate the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the failure of the opposition to offer a credible alternative have led many citizens to grow disillusioned with the democratic process.

Election fraud and rigging of vote results have never before been so prevalent, creating further disdain for the political system among voters.As a result, the apparent failure of justice and the continuing impunity of political leaders was exacerbated with the erosion in social, moral and democratic values in the society in general.

This is the serious problem Turkey in the post-Islamist era has to tackle. Controversial laws can be rolled back and injustice perpetrated by the political zealots can be remedied.

But restoring lost values in ethics, social justice and moral principles will take more time, as it requires years of education and training of individuals.Fethullah Gulen, the leading Turkish Muslim scholar, strongly feels reasonable moderates must stand up against the shattering of these values.

He offers a balanced view of developments taking place in Turkey and did not hesitate to take up a position against wrongdoing in the government when so many others were cowed into a deafening silence. Gulen is holding his ground firmly despite ErdoIan and his allies, who have brought pressure to bear in a strong reminder of Turkeyand#39s lost values.

Gulenand#39s stance is the most serious challenge to the rule of Islamists who have plundered the countryand#39s resources at home and abroad.He believes every Muslim has a responsibility to defend ethics, moral values and Islamic principles that are being destroyed by political Islamists and radical groups who simply exploit and abuse the religion for the aancement of political goals.

For Gulen, efforts must concentrate on human behavior, because in the final analysis institutions are shaped and led by people. In other words, without addressing human fallacies and weaknesses, the system is bound to produce more problems.

Turkey cannot be put on the right path without a restoration of values that will perhaps require a generational change. He aocates a position that a new course with a strong commitment to democratic principles and moral values must be charted to lead Turkey.

In the meantime, Gulen remains steadfast in his objection to involvement in politics, which is already poisoned with deep polarization and tension. The 74-year-old Muslim scholar who has shied away from politics throughout his life insists on keeping a distance from the political sphere, which is prudent given that the erosion of values and disruption of social justice are at a dangerous level.

As a scholar, he has explained about the importance of setting benchmarks for political and social forces to engage with a growing Turkey.Those benchmarks in setting up a new value system will be debated further in the future, as ErdoIan and his brethren have started to lose their grip on power while trying to cling to the sinking ship of political Islamists.

There is a massive but latent anti-ErdoIan sentiment in the ruling party. The jockeying for power among heavyweights and their factions within the AKP in the lead-up to national elections six months from now has already begun.

ErdoIan and his ilk thought they could continue in power indefinitely. Well, think again.

Unfortunately, the growing discontent with the AKPand#39s de facto one-party rule has weakened Turkey. Now the government is not strong enough to withstand major domestic crises that may come about due to the escalation of the Kurdish problem and unresolved Alevi demands, or external shocks such as a spillover of regional ethnic and sectarian conflicts and a severe economic downturn.

Since all these potentially carry a risk to plunge the country into chaos, political Islamists have threatened the nationand#39s long-term stability and viability. As a result, this has created more incentive for more people to take a strong stand against the AKP governmentand#39s undemocratic and authoritarian policies.

An earthquake is coming, and the resulting avalanche will sweep Islamists from power sooner than many think.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman