Bracketing Turkey in the Tunisia parenthesis - AKIF EMRE

Bracketing Turkey in the Tunisia parenthesis

Nowadays, an interesting Tunisia-Turkey analogy is being made not only in between the Turkish secular and conservative environments, but also in the politics-making centers, and predominantly in the Western media and academicians. Tunisia, the country where the first fire of the Arab Spring started with a big rumble, had entered a new period nowadays. While the apolitical revolution, which had turned into a nightmare in Libya, and ended with the junta regime in Egypt, seems to have renewed hope in Tunisia!

While all the hopes in Tunisia had been lost, the reason for the second spring suddenly becoming green with the birth of new hopes, was caused after the Nahda Party, which had been identified as Islamist, had fallen into second place… More importantly, it came about after a secular party had come in first…. How much the secularity in Tunisian conditions and the secularism in Turkey coincide is a completely separate matter for discussion and it is dubious. Just as the matter of cultural code disparity in the Nahda-AKP comparison.

When Nahda became the victor in the free election in 2011, this didn’t mean absolute rulership. As a matter of fact, with Gannuşi being in the first place, the spokesmen of the movement had preferred to come to terms with the present parties and reduce the communal tension during the transition process, and prioritized the building of equilibriums with the bureaucratic elites of the system, which had been inherited from Bin Ali. What was being experienced was some kind of transition process rather than revolution. Also, the ruling party was never an Islamist rulership.

During the recent elections, Nahda, which had become worn out during these disruptions (which always is the case), had naturally fallen to a second party position.

Right in this environment, while Nahda had already fallen from the rulership position, their value had been discovered. Articles, which write about the importance of, not only Nahda, but also the Tunisian modernization and democracy experience, had started to show up.  Now, articles, which compare Tunisia’s democracy experience with Turkey, are showing up in renowned newspapers. The article in the Foreign Policy (the internet version) entitled “Erdoğan’s unsung victory”, which indirectly threatens Erdoğan with a military coup, and states that if such a calamity ever happens (actually it’s a desire) it won’t be compared with the previous examples of the situation, giving Menderes’ outcome as an example. Another article in the Washington Post entitled “Why is Tunisian democracy succeeding while the Turkish model is failing?”, which states that Turkey and the AKP experience, which had been highlighted as the model for the Arab Spring, is now invalid and defends the idea that on the contrary now Tunisia should be a model for Turkey, is the outpouring of the political attitude rather than an analysis.

Whenver a Turkey-Tunisia comparison is being made, Tunisia is always referred to as the best follower of the Turkish model.  The Kemalist modernization’s Jacobean laicism interpretation and implementations will really be in harmony with the Tunusia modernization. Burgiba and the Tunisia afterwards was an experience really liked by the nationalist Kemalists in Turkey.

In this anachronic example, the fact that the one being modelled and the one being the model is feeding off a similar Western source was being overlooked. The French model is indicative in the Turkish modernization, and especially in the formation of the laicism understanding, in other words the religion-state-community relations. It is apparent that the Jacobean laicism is directly affecting the Turks as a source of inspiration and the Tunisians with the colonial experience. The Kemalists forget that the French colonial inheritance’s impositions are more indicative in Tunisia than the Turkish experience.

During the first days of the Arab Spring, it was frequently mentioned that the AK Party experience is cut out for Tunisia as a Muslim democrat example. This was being adopted by the conservatives in Turkey, as much as the Western circles, which prefer a moderate and democrat Islam model against the radical Islamist threat. Being the source of inspiration for the Arab Spring, forming this, transferring the two-centenarian modernization experience there, and even suggesting the laicism experience had become a mission for the conservative democrats.

However, it must have become troublesome for some when AK Party didn’t seem to be a goer in the third period that they had even started to make forced comments like making a model out of the Tunisia democracy to Turkey. Tunisia was a great model, because they had instantly lost in the elections, and the old Jacobean Kemalist bureaucrats had taken control of the rulership. After all, Gannuşi was an intellectual, who had internalized the Western democratic values…

Criticizing, not liking the AK Party rulership and desiring them to go with all your heart and soul is something, but giving a democracy lesson to Turkey from Tunisia is something else, and expressing this in different environments together with coup threats will change the nature of the issue. At this point, by making a model analysis in an intellectual sense, a modernization history comparison praising laicism will have no meaning at all.

However, with the Turkey, that is being desired to be put under the Tunisia parenthesis, and the Tunisia, that is being desired to be put under the Turkey parenthesis,  comparison is turning into an obsession, which hampers the understanding of both situations. The Kemalist Turkey observation, which is being presented as a model to Tunisia over the Turkish westernization and modernization, and the starting point of the conservatives, who are playing the role of democracy, the conservatism example that had started out from Turkey’s modernization experience, are looking similar to each other. Even though different results are reached, the common platform is the Westernization and the modernization experience…

The emphasis laid on the necessity of modeling of the conservative democrat experience, which leans on this historical background, is involving a reversed orientalist approach.

The pretense of being a model with the Westernization adventure, which takes the West as a reference even while complaining about the Western shirts put on the Islam world, is actually consuming the possibilities of creating alternative politics from the beginning.  This was the expression lost right at the beginning by the Arab Spring.

The malcontent Westerners’ justifications for their criticisms over the rulership in Turkey and the justifications of the conservatives that show themselves as a model leaning on the same experience is an aspect that is not being dwelled upon. In this sense, this must be what encourages the emphases of “Gannuşi’s interiorized democracy culture” being made on the modelling matter.


Cookies are used limited to the purposes in th e Personal Data Protection Law No.6698 and in accordance with the legislation. For detailed information, you can review our cookie policy.