Talking Turkey:
Brassy and Devout
4 December 2013

¶ At the NYRB, Christopher de Bellaigue writes about the problem of majoritarian democracy as it is corroding the civic life of Turkey, under the increasingly “hubristic” rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (“Surreal, Menacing…Pompous“) More Turks seem to be pleased with Mr Erdoğan than not, but the unhappiness of the still-large minority is growing more insistent, and neither side is much inclined to civility. One thing appears to be certain: Mr Erdoğan is the creature of an economic boom, and will be replaced when that comes to an end.

Naturally, the people who benefited most from Erdoğan’s rule were his own supporters, not only because specific measures like the headscarf ban fell into partial disuse—universities now admit women in headscarves, as do many courts—but because the tenor of public life became more pious. Erdoğan and his ministers did not conceal their links to religious orders—such as the Nakshibendis—that the Kemalists had regarded as a major threat to the state. God, rather than Atatürk, was invoked at groundbreaking ceremonies; new mosques rose in the big cities. All the while, the prime minister’s friends in the private sector—often pious businessmen from the interior of the country who bankrolled his election victories—were rewarded with contracts for building, improving infrastructure, and producing energy. Turkey gained a new elite, both brassy and devout.

One Response to “Talking Turkey:
Brassy and Devout
4 December 2013

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