My silence towards Turkey should not be interpreted as an act of ignorance yet as a deliberate action of not willing to contribute in an apolitical discussion where scandals, lies, and corruption weights more than the violation of basic human rights.
How can I contribute when our prime minister replied “these are rumors full of slander” after being proven to smuggle millions of $ since 11 years. I am a 28 years old artist working with the Internet, in Paris, why am I spending the years of my youth on a matter where my actions cannot have immediate consequences? I feel asphyxiated drowned and caged. Internet, with its transparency and democracy helped to under thrown corrupt governments of our neighbors. Currently our prime minister is taking gradual measures to slow down (literally) and eventually ban the internet. This was my tipping point.
I recently watched a BBC documentary on the Ottoman Empire which made me understand why all this is happening to my country and the rest of the Middle East. Separation in a nation is something that all countries had their fair share in. However there is something very special about my country, Turkey. We are the kids of the biggest empire ever existed which ruled all across Asia-Europe and Africa during 600 years. Ottoman Empire was respected by the lands they occupied and feared by the rest of the world. Like we know, the feeling of superiority works like heroine, isolates you from the rest of the world and this eventually ends up killing you.
While Turks created a comfort zone for the lands of today’s Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Syria with a “you live, we govern” policy, the west developed in economical technological, educational terms and had the enlightenment.
While Ottomans though they were safe within their empire, the west invented gunpowder and defeated them. Turks’ long faith was brought down by their provincialism.
This resulted in the creation of new countries with autocratic governance. Turkey was lucky enough to have a leader like Ataturk, however Iraq, Egypt and Syria wasn’t. The ones who ruled were the ones who found the oil. Because of being shadowed out under the Ottomans, they did not have the possibility to discover democracy. In my opinion, the recent uprisings in the middle east were not only people against their governments, but also a cry for the search of a political identity for their own culture.
I believe my country is going through the same. Ataturk could save Turks by establishing strong secular rules where Muslims did not feel welcome, and since I was born, I feel like as secular girl, now I am the one who does not feel welcome in her own country.
My cry here is not one of “us the secular” and “them the religious” but more a fantasy for a prosperous country where we can co-exist,
A turkey which is so special that it does not want to fit in any other form of governance and is strong enough to invent an enlightenment for Islam.
A country having a version of islam with a mini skirt next to it.
A country which is open minded enough to create a muslim opera.
A country where football hooligans divide the country in two but not gender, faith and religion.
A country where quality weights more than quantity.
A culture where we are not only famous with our kebab and beaches in the West but also with our tolerance.
And the Arabs do not only visit our country for luxury and shopping but also for our culture.
A country which finally understands that one of its greatest singers, Zeki Muren, was not only a gentleman but also a gay man.
A country where the journalists spend more time in their office than in jail.
A system which finally understands money can never bring Olympics, but tolerance could.
A country where the faith for unity, like the one that Nelson Mandela created for South Africa, can overrule the current system.
And a youth can finally see other meanings in the words justice and development, other than muslim and money.
The current situation in Turkey leaves me and my friends with any other feeling than being useless influence-less and powerless, but I have my fantasy and no one take it away from me.
Pinar Demirdag, of Pinar&Viola