Opinion Archives - ASSEDEL


Glorious history, dangerous present and a utopian future: a comparative discourse analysis of the Front National and AKP

“There is a revolution going on, a revolution of nations, actually, it is the great return of nations, and the great return of the people and democracy.”1 

This astonishing statement by Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right party Front National (FN), pointedly sums up the political doctrine of those parties that have combined populism (the pure people vs. elite) and nationalism (the native people vs. others) for their absolute success, and the extremity of this phenomenon that is gaining ground across various political systems, particularly those in Europe. The convergence of nationalism in the populist discourse established a new strain of ethno-cultural nationalism, an exclusionary conception of ‘national identity’ and an anti-European Union (EU)/anti-globalisation agenda that envisages the contemporary nation under danger and proposes to return the nation to its past glory. On that note, the adaptation of a populist nationalist nexus in the far-right political parties has rather become an inherently reactionary movement challenging the established norms of liberalism, democracy, equality and freedom.  

This article takes issue with the political discourse of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French Front National and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP). Both parties have achieved substantial political power in the recent years and have become powerful figures of far-right politics. While Le Pen’s populist and nationalist stand has shown the way to other far-right political parties across Europe, Erdogan’s discourse has also received much appreciation from Middle Eastern countries and opposition from Europe. The success of Le Pen and Erdogan has become a growing concern across European institutions and governments. Hence, both parties have individually become much analysed prominent subjects in the studies of far-right populism. This article will compare and contrast the two groups on the basis of their common characteristics of anti-elitism, nationalism/nativism and anti-multiculturalism (Kaya et al, 2020).  

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Why government targets LGBT+ in Bogazici University protests?

“Are you a student ? Or are you a terrorist who attempted to invade the rector’s room and occupy it? This country will no longer live a protest event in Taksim. Just as we buried terrorists in Mount Judi, in Gabar, in Mount Tendurek, and entered their “dens”, we will continue to do so in the same way from now on. There is no such thing as LGBT. Turkey is a national and traditional country, and walking into the future with these values.”  

(03.02.2021, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan)

These sentences, which contain criminal words according to the Turkish Penal Code1, belong to the president of Turkey, who is the guarantee of the constitution. Let’s move on to the analysis of this discourse.

  1. According to the statement of Minister of Internal Affairs, Suleyman Soylu, 101 out of 180 of the students arrested are not affiliated with Bogazici University. So almost half of the arrested students are actually from Bogazici University. On the other hand, you don’t need to be a student of Bogazici University, you don’t even need to be a student to protest a politically appointed rector to Bogazici University.
  2. Rector’s room was not invaded, students who became “so wild” could try to attack Melih Bulu when he tried to talk to them. It was not necessary to invade his room because Melih Bulu has already communicated with the students one-on-one for most of the time.
  3. The attempt to recall for Taksim protests is neither legal nor legitimate, because all the defendants in the Gezi trial were acquitted of all charges.
  4. “We entered into their dens”, the past calls of his word intend to call on the fight against the PKK and Gülen Movement. At present, the statement shows that this word is for the PKK, so the struggle of government to activists in Bogazici are similar to the struggle with the PKK. Even in a semantic context, pointing out PKK is added in a way that is disconnected from the sentence, and LGBT+ is mentioned right after this sentence.  So, is LGBT+ really a terrorist organization far from national and moral values?

Being LGBT+ in Turkey is very difficult as it is everywhere. According to the Moral Principles and Religious Foundation Employees Union2, it is not a human right to “prefer” homosexuality3. However, according to Nihat Hatipoğlu, who is a member of YÖK4 with the approval of Erdoğan, all kinds of people can be found in society, and according to him, we need to meet “this” with understanding. Even according to Erdoğan’s 2002 version, the rights of LGBT+ should be guaranteed. So why is LGBT+ being attacked during the Bogazici University Protests?

Quick answer: Because there was no other way. Erdogan’s government got stuck in the corner in economy, in social approval and of course in predicted elections. 

It’s On 2 January 2021, Melih Bulu was appointed as rector by Erdoğan to Bogazici University. In the election survey conducted by GENAR on 25 November 2020, close to 600 out of 3000 people did not specify a preference. In other words, there is floating voter rate of approximately 20 percent according to the survey. According to the survey conducted by Eurasia on September 24, 2020, the rate of floating voters is 14 percent. According to the survey of Metropoll, the biggest group after the AKP and the CHP were floating5.

75 percent of voters in the first vote of the 2018 Turkish General Elections did not vote for People’s Alliance (Cumhur Ittifaki). According to the surveys in September 2020, this rate has not changed6. A detail to be noted is that while 4 million people from generation Z vote in the 2018 General Elections, 9.1 million people from this generation will vote in a possible election at the end of 20217. This makes one out of every 5 voters a member of the Z generation. On the other hand, according to a study conducted in 2018, 71 percent of voters who voted for the AKP are over 32 years old. In other words, in 2018, the AKP received approximately 3 out of 4 of its votes from those born before 19868.

In 2020 the proportion of poor households in Turkey rose %14.4 from %10.49. According to DISK-AR10 2.2 million employees lost their jobs11. According to the graphics below, Turkish economy has entered an irreversible path.

Time is not neutral, and it is currently running against Erdoğan. All this bring us these graph below12.

Social civil unrest is enough to cause an explosion in Turkey rises as countries in a dangerous line. Although difficult to predict, economic and demographic indicators confirm this. After protested during the pandemic, first by law society13, then by shopkeepers14, and then by miners15, the government appointed a rector to Bogazici University and consciously or unconsciously tried to shape the day, on LGBT+ opposition. This was for the benefit of the government in many ways. First of all, LGBT + community in Turkey has no specific guarantee in legal terms. That’s why Minister of Internal Affairs, Süleyman Soylu was able to accuse LGBT + members of heresy16.  Secondly, the structure of Turkish society tends to react too strongly to LGBT+17. Finally,  LGBT+ was tried to be worn out already. By fake news, that shows whistling while calling to pray at the Istanbul Pride18, or with alleged disrespect to the Kaaba during protests,  reputation was already decreased by government. So Erdoğan and his team have a strong card which allows use religious discourse and which will be able to turn back the floating voters again. So they are again intending to marginalize an already marginalized group even more. In other saying,  making LGBT+ enemy is very profitable for the government, because the government can use religious rhetoric, and the answer comes by completely rejecting religious discourse, thereby consolidating the conservative groups.

A Different Perspective

The government’s religious rhetoric paradoxically works for LGBT+ in long term. Visibility of these activist, of LGBT+ groups is %100 now in Turkey. Considering that Prides, Women’s Day Meetings, and even all meetings are made for visibility, Erdoğan’s mention of LGBT+ has made their visibility in the society 100 percent. A marginal group of people slowly finds its place in society, slowly becomes normal.

It is not known what the course of time and what more integrated world bring us, but it is certain that it will bring a world where LGBT + groups are more visible and got accustomed. The statistics in the world are as follows.

It is not known whether the course of the world or the exclusionary attitude of governments creates this, but these perceptions are gradually changing. Finally, it is impossible to remain neutral to this changing, as we will see in future.

[1] Turkish Criminal and Penal Law, Article 216- (1) Any person who openly provokes a group of people belonging to different social class, religion, race, sect, or coming from another origin, to be rancorous or hostile against another group, is punished with imprisonment from one year to three years in case of such act causes risk from the aspect of public safety. 
These protests shall be restricted only by law.

(2) Any person who openly humiliates another person just because he belongs to different social class, religion, race, sect, or comes from another origin, is punished with imprisonment from six months to one year.

[2] Employees union is affiliated with the Directorate of Religious Affairs

[3] https://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/mil-diyanet-sen-lgbtlari-hedef-aldi-escinsellik-insan-hakki-degil-1810554

[4] Council of Higher Education

[5] https://tr.sputniknews.com/politika/202007051042390196-metropollden-secim-anketi-ak-parti-ve-mhpde-dusus-suruyor-en-buyuk-ucuncu-grup-kararsizlar/

[6] https://www.yenicaggazetesi.com.tr/z-kusagi-sandikta-kime-oy-verecek-iste-anket-sonuclari-298653h.htm

[7] https://www.dogrulukpayi.com/bulten/z-kusaginin-oy-potansiyeli

[8] Baran Alp Uncu, Seçmen Kümeleri, Ak Parti Seçmenleri, KONDA, May 2018

[9] https://www.evrensel.net/haber/421724/turkiyenin-2020-ekonomisi-1-5-milyon-yeni-yoksul-97-bin-yeni-milyoner

[10] Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey

[11] https://tr.euronews.com/2021/02/11/turkiye-de-issizlik-oran-tuik-e-gore-yuzde-12-9-ilo-ya-gore-yuzde-28-8

[12] https://www.statista.com/statistics/263708/unemployment-rate-in-turkey/

[13] https://www.dw.com/tr/baroların-savunma-yürüyüşüne-polis-müdahalesi/a-53901722

[14] https://www.evrensel.net/haber/419835/kadikoyde-yuzlerce-esnaf-eylem-yapti-gercekci-bir-cozum-istiyoruz-dedi

[15] https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/ankaraya-yuruyen-maden-iscilerine-polis-engeli-haber-1501477

[16] https://www.dw.com/tr/twitterdan-süleyman-soylunun-tweetine-kısıtlama/a-56412692

[17] Rainbow Index, 14.05.2020, https://ilga.org/ilga-europe-rainbow-europe-map-index-2020

[18] While the activists were whistling the police, by chance the call to pray starts. The pro-government media gave a false colour this.


Human rights after Trump: Can Biden right the wrongs?

The concept of human rights is everchanging and developing; this concept of rights we identify as the bare minimum for all humans is interpreted differently amongst different cultures and countries. The human rights issues in the United States of America have never been top notch, and the U.S. continues to combat and develop these issues as new concerns arise each day. Although some of these rights are clearly described in the Constitution and bill of Rights, these rights aren’t all applied in the same way. They are applied into statutes on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately, only having it written down in the constitution is not enough to cross ‘human rights issues’ off our list, these rights have to be played out within the country as well. Moreover, the idea of human rights is also juggled differently with every president.  

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Implications of the ECtHR’s Selahattin Demirtas judgment on the current trials related to members of the Gulen Movement


In its judgment rendered in respect of Selahattin Demirtaş on 22/12/2020 1, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) pointed out highly fundamental matters which closely concerns the pending cases in Turkey. The Grand Chamber touched, for the first time, upon the Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC) governing membership of an armed organization and, as previously stated by the Second Division of the Court in the Ragıp Zarakolu judgment 2, held that this article was not “foreseeable”. In this article, we are going to analyze the aspects of this judgement regarding the trials on the members of the Gülen Movement which is distortedly described as “FETÖ/PDY” (Fethullahist terrorist organization / Parallel State structure) by the Turkish Government.

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APERTURE – Analysis of a short film dedicated to captive children

                About 780 children aged from 0 to 6 are currently in prison with their mothers in Turkey. Although this is a black mark for Turkey, just a few people care about this problem in the country. Here is Director Erdal Dizman, who is trying to raise awareness on this present situation, one of these few people. Think of a child in prison with his/her mother. This is something that potentially affects anyone hearing it even just once. He, Mr Dizman , has been witnessing these kind of stories putting him under severe psychological stress while making movies. Story writing must have become a truly exhausting process for him.

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State-sponsored torture in Turkey

Although the torture is not a new phenomenon for Turkey, a significant increase was observed in number of cases after the coup plot of 20161. The government’s failure or more precisely reluctance to take a clear stance against torture and torturers, not to mention the efforts to legitimize the torture and the ill-treatment by the Minister of Interior, Suleyman Soylu, caused a strong reaction from the victims and human rights defenders. 

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Sanctions minimales contre la Turquie avec une signification majeure

Le 11 décembre 2020, le Conseil européen a adopté une conclusion1 sur la base de laquelle des mesures restrictives individuelles pourront être décidées, visant vraisemblablement les responsables des travaux d’exploration gazière en Méditerranée par la Turquie. Si les sanctions prévues sont considérées moins fortes que ce qui est attendu2, elles sont pourtant dotées d’une signification très importante. Car, même si une suspension de l’union douanière avec la Turquie ou des sanctions concrètes avec un effet immédiat n’ont pas été décidées à l’issu de cette réunion du Conseil européen, la Turquie est désormais devenue un pays comme l’Iran ou la Russie, qui fait l’objet d’une sanction économique, alors qu’elle est officiellement un pays candidat pour entrer dans l’UE. Les effets économiques indirects de cette transformation sont déjà présents sous forme de désinvestissement ou de changement des projets commerciaux de certaines entreprises3.

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La visite de Robert Spano en Turquie: quelles réactions?

Le président de la Cour européenne des droits de l’Homme, Robert Spano s’est rendu en Turquie du jeudi 3 au samedi 5 septembre. La juge turque de la CEDH Saadet Yüksel qui est accusée d’être explicitement affiliée au régime d’Erdogan[1], a accompagné Robert Spano pendant sa visite. Même s’il a demandé à la Turquie d’exécuter les décisions de la CEDH et mis l’accent sur l’importance de l’État de droit dans ses discours[2], il n’a pas mentionné de façon explicite et concrète les violations des droits de l’homme en Turquie et il n’a rencontré que les autorités officielles pendant sa visite.

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