Recent events in Egypt have really spooked the Turkish authorities. First came a statement from the AKP’s spokesman Huseyin Celik calling Egypt “backward” for staging a military coup (the AKP have worked hard on reducing the power of the Turkish military so that coups are now extremely unlikely here. Erdogan recently boasted that Turkey is “coup-proof”.) Now, the Foreign Minister Davutoglu is demanding that Morsi is released from house arrest and has reminded everyone that “Leaders who come to power with open and transparent elections reflecting the will of the people can only be removed by elections, that is to say, the will of the nation.” He certainly does not want the Turkish public getting nasty ideas about deposing his boss.
The AKP’s refusal to admit that democracy is comprised of anything other than ballot box victories might be their undoing. Morsi was deposed because he did not measure up to expectations. He won at the ballot box, and did not deliver what he promised when he was persuading the Egyptian public to vote for him. Many Turks feel much the same way about Erdogan, which is why the AKP is insisting that voting is the only legitimate expression of public will.
Amusingly, Celik also said that foreign powers had “mobilized the streets” in Egypt and staged the coup. This chimes perfectly with the government’s account of the Gezi protests, which as everyone knows were staged by an eclectic mix of terrorists, journalists, Jews and interest rate lobbyers scheming in perfect harmony. Celik pointed out that the military probably could not solve Egypt’s economic problems – a reminder to Turks that their hard-won economic gains might be in jeopardy if nonsensical talk of coups start surfacing here.
Actions speak louder than words: I noticed that the main road leading to Taksim Square is swarming with municipal workmen pulling up the paving stones and replacing them with concrete. During the protests, people pulled up paving stones on this road to build makeshift blockades which prevented the police tanks coming up to the square. In future they will not be able to do so. The authorities are warning people off protests with scaremongering tactics, but they are also taking practical precautions in case the scaremongering does not work as well as hoped.
One of the most depressing developments of recent days has been a bill proposed to make it illegal for doctors to practice anywhere other than a specific licensed medical location. This bill is clearly in response to doctors treating injured protesters at the medical centres in Gezi Park; some were arrested for doing so. Aside from being a gross infringement of the Hippocratic Oath, the bill is incredibly irresponsible – what happens when there is an earthquake, or a car accident, or someone has a heart attack? The doctor who attempts to treat the victims of these untoward accidents or natural disasters will face fines and prosecution. This is the Turkish government at its most vindictive and morally repulsive.