Life buoy for opposition: Secularism - KEMAL ÖZTÜRK

Life buoy for opposition: Secularism

I think it's good that it happened. It had been a long while since we last discussed the secularism issue. For the last three days, every sociologist, political scientist, legal expert and troll in the country aphorized on secularism, creating an uplift.

Our screens, discussion programs and even marriage shows on television became focused on the secularism issue. Apparently the prospective bride does not want a groom that is not secular!

As for opposition, it became a reason to celebrate for them. They literally livened up. They became refreshed, their faces started to glow. Social media was rocked as always (when does it ever calm down?). Hashtags were created, tweets poured in from everywhere: “Secularism is our life, we can die for it.”

It seems the newspapers also missed their February 28 headlines: “Reaction poured in,” “Turkey is secular and will remain secular,” “The real target is Atatürk,” “Secularism revolt at the capital.”

Kılıçdaroğlu remembers secularism

Believe me, Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's eyes lit up. He had not stormed so much for some time.

He said, “The swamp that is the Middle East, is the result of a mentality like yours that exploits religion for politics.” And much more… See how many birds he is killing with one stone? “The Middle East policy, swamp, Daesh, your mentality, exploiting religion…”

Well done, political communication theorists should teach such fiction as a subject!

What's funny is that in the last five elections Kılıçdaroğlu participated in (and he lost every single one of them), there is not a single mention of secularism, Atatürk, İsmet İnönü, the six arrows or even a single arrow for that matter… He campaigned like he was not from the CHP; he forgot all principles.

CHP voters were surprised

CHP voters were surprised, saying, “What was secularism? Ah yes, it was our most important principle, which [former CHP president, CHP deputy Deniz] Baykal turned into a flag in the last five elections he took part in [and lost all of them].” They remembered everything one by one: “Wait a moment, yes… the Republic rallies, the walks with whistles, banging on pots and pans, the İzmir anthem, wafers…”

Really, it's good that it happened. May God be pleased with our Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman, he made us experience nostalgia by restarting the secularism discussions we had forgotten for years.

I too had become caught up in academic strain from writing on serious matters. It did me good.

HDP said 'caliphate' and raised bets

How is it that everyone from the president to the most minor politician became so carried away? Even Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ said something outside the usual PKK discourse.

“They don't want the HDP in Parliament so it does not hamper their plan to declare a caliphate.” Believe me, she really said this. Apparently Kahraman's statement is an indication of the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) intention to declare a caliphate and the HDP is an obstacle in the way, and apparently this is why the summary of proceedings were prepared! You might be laughing, but this is exactly what the co-chair of HDP, the country's third biggest party, said.

How fun! The media turns its microphone to the simit vendor and asks: “Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman said secularism should not be included in the Constitution, what do you think?” But the simit vendor has something else on his agenda: “Ma'am, aren't you going to buy a simit?”

Look at what else they brought up after Kahraman's statement: “It was made to bring the presidential system. They were going to declare sharia, they are making preliminary preparations. [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan wanted to be caliph so he used Kahraman. The AK Party is cooperating with Daesh. They are actually going to lift the Constitution and launch a rocket into space…” What a wild imagination! Amazing isn't it?

Let me tell you, this will not end here. They clung to this discussion like a life buoy. This discussion revived them when the ship had sunk and the opposition was about to drown.

What was the actual agenda?

But why did AK Party administrators take this matter so seriously anyway? Their party program is known, government program is known, Constitution draft is known, operations are known, the Parliament speaker is no longer a party member… yet they still statement after statement.

It is obvious that there are those who want to boil this debate. Let us get to the real matter like the bagel vendor:

Weren't we lifting the immunities you were storming about, what happened? You were going to distance yourselves from terror, what happened? You were supporting the new constitution, what happened?

These are the subjects that we are going to discuss. Are you going to buy a simit? That is the question!

The quality, level and productivity of a country's opposition is the greatest contribution to democracy. Our opposition is like a chicken that does not lay eggs – bad enough that it does not lay eggs, it screams until morning.

If there is one thing I know, it is that we have no time to lose.

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