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If Religion Is Cement, The Structure Falls

It is high time that Turkey cleanses the constitution of all ethnical descriptions, obscurities, concepts of minority and majority and adopt the guidelines of democratic equal, constitutional citizenship. Yet the prime minister seeks salvation in Islam.


BIA News Center

19/12/2005 Talin SUCIYAN


BÝA (Istanbul) – Prime minister Erdogan adds a new comment to the controversy on the sub-identity and super-identity of the citizens of Turkey.

“Religion has functioned as the cement of the society throughout the history of Turkey” he said. If this is an attempt by the Prime Minister to refer the ongoing debates on identity and deliberating that Kurds are also Muslim so therefore they are an integrated part of this ever binding cement, it has to be said PM’s current comments are far removed from the reality of the country.

History does not verify prime minister’s words

History that PM is attributing is not supporting his words .Last weekend at a conference organized by TESEV, Assos. Prof. Mesut Yegen’s speech clearly demonstrated to us that how religion hasn’t been that “cement-like” in last 85 years. Yeðen told that in 1920 Kurds, Laz’s and Circassians, all the “Islamic people” of Turkey were referred as “full brothers” by Mustafa Kemal and yet up to 1924 how they were deprived of all their civil rights. Especially between 1930 and 1990 existence of Kurds had been constantly denied, their people had been subjected to assimilative policies, Anatolia had been introduced to a new grand demographical engineering program and where ten thousands had perished, taking into consideration all these above and still say that religion is a cement, far from being politically effective, it is a clear sign of insensitivity and a denial of present day and a turbulent past that is full of conflicts.

After saying that Erdogan’s words are devoid of historical truth, the theoretical delusion that he falls into needs to be pointed out, while Erdogan seems to be accepting the existence of different ethnical groups with in his definition of “multiculturalism”, though he uses the most conservative wing of this definition; by departing from such definitions he can’t help chasing dreams of a monocultural national state. In other words, he wants to utilize multiculturalism to not question the nation state and to cover up the historical truths. But the history that Erdogan is referring is a very recent one, it is as yesterday, the day before yesterday and the day before that.

The one percent which is not in the mixture of the cement

Furthermore with these words while PM wishes to see the ’99 percent’ Muslim population of Turkey is united by this cement, he can’t help but to fall in to the trap of being discriminatory .

Erdogan supposing he is symbolically uniting the majority, he is putting the one percent minority those who are expected to be separatist and a non mixing element of th(his) cement, right opposite to that. “Turkey is not Yugoslavia, there are Serbs, Croats, Bosnians they all are followers of different faiths, there are even those who belong to different sects of the same religion.”As PM states this he sweeps aside in one move all the dynamics of the European Union and democratic multiculturalism and valuates this differences still as elements that divide a nation. In the end those who are outside of th(his) cement made twice outsiders .Outsiders that we couldn’t bring the end of them how ever hard we tried, as Hrant Dink puts it “the one percent that we turned into a museum piece”

These days proves Etyen Mahcupyan right, as never ending debates go on about various definitions of identities, in Herkul Milas’s metaphor, he likens identities to cuckoo-clocks, sometimes one identity emerges and sometimes another, and fallowing this Mahcupyan’s response was “What if the clock is malfunctioning or there is a constant intervention from outside that always the same identity ends up emerging from it”

Here!Right infront of your eyes is a very fresh evidence for you. Very open intervention to a dream of a multicultural democratic future. Still trying desperately to find binding elements for things such as race, religion, creed and ethnic identities. Still making attributions to a monstrous nationalism that is fossilized since the beginning of the century. Still excepting help from national security state. Still staying away from obvious blessing of democracy. This attitude clearly demonstrates how far away we are from an understanding that constitution provides equal rights for every citizen and makes it possible to benefit from them.

Yet how nicely Baskin Oral had told it, if democratic state gathers strength it will become capable of trusting to its citizens to whom it dispenses their civil rights. But Erdogan’s declaration that people should not be called as a witness of recent events in Semdinli, he made it very clear that state doesn’t trust its citizens. Let alone if the institution of trust be a question in Semdinli events, here not the states trust to its citizens should be questioned, but on the contrary it should be considered that how the confidence of people towards their state could be established and to shed light on the events in Semdinli this should be paramount.

Equal constitutional citizenship

Isn’t it about time that constitution got cleansed from all ethnical descriptions, obscurities, concepts of minority and majority and in this manner the acceptance of principals of democratic equal, constitutional citizenship.

Turkey, that now looks towards joining the European Union, her PM instead of redefining the binding elements of religion, would it be a luxury to expect that he gains his people’s trust by not leaving them unjustly blamed and supports the diffusion of constitutional citizenship principal where its equivalent is found in application.


Translated by Arman Suciyan)

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