We are witnessing a once vital country, the most secular and vibrant nation in the Mideast, become an autocratic theocracy. I refer, of course, to Turkey, where President Erdogan continues to use the recent coup to get rid of anyone who opposes (or even criticizes) him. As Reuters reports, Turkey just detained another 47 journalists, bringing the total number of people arrested after the coup to around 8000, and total number detained to around 15,000. In this case the journalists were suspected of being sympathetic to Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric and writer who was once Erdogan’s pal but fell into disrepute after criticizing his regime for corruption. Erdogan sees Gülen as the mastermind of the failed coup. Reuters:
The detention of journalists ordered on Wednesday involved columnists and other staff of the now defunct Zaman newspaper, a government official said. Authorities in March shut down Zaman, widely seen as the Gulen movement’s flagship media organization.
“The prosecutors aren’t interested in what individual columnists wrote or said,” said the official, who requested anonymity. “At this point, the reasoning is that prominent employees of Zaman are likely to have intimate knowledge of the Gulen network and as such could benefit the investigation.”
However, the list includes journalists, such as Sahin Alpay, known for their leftist activism who do not share the religious world view of the Gulenist movement. This has fueled the concerns that the investigation may be turning into a witch-hunt of the president’s political opponents.
On Monday, media reported that arrest warrants had been issued for 42 other journalists, 16 of whom have so far been taken into custody.
After all dissent is quashed, the free press dismantled, and the army officers put away for a long time (if not executed), I predict that the Islamist-ization of the country will begin, with imams being given greater power and secularism correspondingly diminished. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.