So Turkey’s ruling AKP party has again won the general election, albeit with a minority government. This is the same party that notoriously quashed with relative brutality a relatively peaceful protest in 2013 against the proposed conversion of Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park into some sort of urban development, a mall I believe. The protest was, arguably, a pivotal moment in the movement against the perceptibly authoritarian and pro-Islamic, non-secular AKP (Justice and Development Party….on a side note, I find it interesting how these right wing parties always seem to robe themselves in words like peace and justice and people’s party etc. etc. etc. but really are looking to suppress things like justice and freedom and the people).
At any rate, the BBC described the orthodox Turks, who voted the AKP in for yet another four years, as “a substantial power base, mainly of the more religious, conservative Turks, who feel liberated by the party and the president.”
I found the description rather ironic, as standing against liberty seems to be the one thing that all religious conservatives, regardless the religion, have in common. This sentiment puts me to mind of the beauty of our democratic system, which, on a fundamental level, provides the safety and security, and liberty, to practice religion pretty much to whatever degree the individual member of the democratic society sees fit, whether non at all atheism all the way to ultra-orthodoxy.
In a theocratic state – and you know where I’m going with this – there is no such spectrum of religiosity as it is simply not permissible or, when it is, those who are not of the ruling religion suffer. Look at ISIS/ISIL: it’s their way or you’re dead. No highway even (and I would encourage you to have a read/watch this article on life in Mosul under ISIS:.
So Turkey’s religious conservatives should thank their lucky stars that the Ataturk turned Turkey into a modern secular state, enabling them to feel liberated. It’s the BBC words, but I think the sentiment rings true for the 41% of the population who voted for the AKP.