Lessons learned by conservative electorates from the Egyptian coup - ATILLA YAYLA

Lessons learned by conservative electorates from the Egyptian coup

The coup regime in Egypt continues violating human rights and democracy. Lately, Mohammed Morsi, the first democratically elected president of Egypt and 100 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced to death. Three students have hastily been hung. It seems like the Sisi administration will proceed with executing its death penalties based on reactions from the country and around the world.

We have to talk about the coup in Egypt and the developments which followed it. In other words, the coup in Egypt interests Turkey and sheds light on how people are taking sides in Turkey. Those who had always supported coups in Turkey and individuals from different segments of the society who joined the pro-coup side with the Gezi Park protests keep their silence. This way, they passively support the coup or tacitly approve what has happened. On the other hand, some people who have no sense of democracy enthusiastically support the death sentences, -let alone the coup- and send insinuating messages to politicians in Turkey, in a way implying that the same thing could happen to them. The Hürriyet daily carried out the vilest example of these. However, there are also those on social media who passionately defend the execution of innocent people and make inhumane comments.

In the days following the coup, I had an argument with a columnist on TV. My respondent, who resolutely defended concepts of democracy and liberalism, defended the coup in Egypt with the same determination and ambition. He outlined the things he considered to be mistakes made by Morsi. He stated that the turnout was low for the elections which Morsi has won. He said that large segments of the society do not want Morsi and this was why 22 million people had signed against Morsi. He claimed that Morsi was unable to resolve the issues of the country and that he only made appointments from his own base. For him, these points were sufficient to legitimize the coup. In reality, (for him) there was no coup; the general staff had only dismissed (!) the president of the state. Military intervention had not dealt a blow to democracy; on the contrary it was done to protect democracy. Democracy could be established in Egypt after the “dispatch” of Morsi. Even though I subverted all of his arguments, that person could not renounce defending the coup in Egypt. At one point, he even defended the 1960 coup in Egypt when we mentioned that incident, and said that the politicians' (including Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and his colleagues) mistakes resulted in a coup. When I pointed that this was an anti-democratic attitude, he realized he was going nowhere and retreated. Now, I wonder if the same person can still defend el-Sisi and his coup under the light of the latest incidents, death sentences, and executions?

The coup in Egypt took place at around the same time as the Gezi uprisings in Turkey. Perhaps a change of the rulers in Turkey was desired beforehand. This would actually ease the Egyptian coup. The live coverage of international media outlets, especially CNN where they portrayed it as if they were covering a civil war in our country, was an indicator of this. Erdoğan's resistance and the action of at least 80% of the society's embracement of him prevented this.

Turkey was the country which had the most explicit and honest reaction against the Egyptian coup. It did not change its attitude since that day. In return for this, the Western countries, which talk as though democracy and freedom are assets exclusively owned by them and attempt to give lessons to the world when they deem it necessary, either kept silent or gave explicit and concealed support for el-Sisi. This way, they failed in terms of the things they refer to as “Western values.”

It is possible to learn some lessons about Turkey from what has happened in Egypt; it is actually a necessity. The conservative circles in our country are watching what Morsi is going through and interpret these in their own way. The political position they adopt has a significant impact on this. In reality, incidents such as Gezi Park and the December 17 and 25 coup attempts and incidents of a smaller scale which happen on a regular basis politicize the conservative segment of the society and push them closer to a side. This is the main reason behind the support given to the AK Party by millions of electorates, despite the fact that the AK Party carries the fatigue of 13 years and has made numerous mistakes of large and small scale. These masses do not watch the war which is waged against the elected government and go beyond the borders of democratic legitimacy as impartial spectators. They know that the result will have a deep impact on their lives. They push the government's mistakes aside, because they know that the overthrow of the AK Party government through undemocratic means –street violence, bureaucratic coup etc. - will result in the violation of their rights and the shrinking of their living space. Almost all opposition parties and the Gülen Movement continue discourse and operations which provoke this sensitivity. This increases the chances for the AK Party to protect its rule for governance.

In short, the attitudes embraced by political actors and parties in Turkey, towards the situation in Egypt are one of the factors which determine the political preferences of the conservative societal segments. This will continue to be the case as long as the opposition parties do not take this card away from the governing party.


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