Commentary Magazine


Rally Shows Erdoğan Doesn’t Get It

At a rally in Germany, Turkey’s Culture and Tourism minister Ömer Çelik sought to rally the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) masses:

“You brought the AKP [Justice and Development Party] to power in 2002 to establish your will and your vision. We have gone through junta plots and assassination plots against the AKP. But we all know: First God, then comes the nation,” Çelik said

There certainly is more to the story than the newspaper lets on. Germany castigated Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the wake of his brutal and extra-legal crackdown on protestors in Gezi Park, a crackdown which continues to this day. Eighty thousand Turks rallied in Germany against Erdoğan, an important sign of how Turks feel considering Turks in Germany tend to be more religious than many of their counterparts inside Turkey. Erdoğan, true to his character, was defiant.

Erdoğan addressed the rally by video in which Çelik spoke. The implication of the rally was clear on a number of levels:

  • First, make no mistake: The AKP might embraces the wrappings of democracy, but it disdains any system which puts people above God.
  • Second, Erdoğan and senior AKP officials have on numerous occasions urged Turks not to assimilate into Europe. By rallying his supporters inside Germany, he is subtly warning German authorities that, should they not change their posture to him, he can mobilize his masses in other ways. The Germans may not want to admit that, but it is Erdoğan’s clear intention.
  • Lastly, it’s time to put any hope that peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) will succeed. The AKP may believe they can overcome national animosity by putting Islam above nationalism, but there’s no indication that the Kurds are willing to stop embracing nationalism as their chief identity.