It seems that Europe has another dictator on the horizon. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been re-elected to serve a second term as President of Turkey, having already served as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014 when he became President, and has been involved in politics for some time in that country.
The only problem is that Erdogan seems very intent from moving Turkey from a mostly secular and liberal democracy to an Islamic theocracy, not to mention spreading the problem across the continent of Europe and the Middle East.
His government has heavily cracked down on free speech in the country, most notably with protests in 2013 which complained about his authoritarianism as Prime Minister, of which led to their heavy clampdown and the killing of 22 protestors. Not to mention how various journalists in the country (foreign or native) have been imprisoned with impunity.
According to Reporters Sans Frontieres (known in English as Reporters Without Borders), Turkey is ranked 157th out of 180 when it comes to press freedom, ranking bellow other despotic countries such as Zimbabwe (ranked 126th), Alegria (ranked 136th), Myanmar (ranked 137th) and Tajikistan (ranked 149th).
Not to mention how the site also lists how out of all countries in the world, Turkey has the most journalists currently imprisoned, with 30 in total, with some arrests dating as far back as 2016. Such infamous cases include the Altan brothers of Ahmet and Mehmet for sending ‘subliminal messages’ in an interview which supposedly influenced the country’s failed military coup back in 2016 and Zeynep Kuray who was arrested in 2017 over her Facebook posts.
It seems that he has no sympathy towards these journalists; indeed as late as his recent UK state visit (of which drew much controversy and occasional protests) he decried the journalists imprisoned as ‘terrorists’. Meanwhile, foreign figures aren’t safe either; Erdogan threatened to jeopardise the EU migrant deal with Turkey if Germany didn’t arrest comedian Jan Bohmermann over calling the leader a ‘goat-f*cker’.
Other Turkish comedians (like one who compared Erdogan to the Gollum character of The Lord Of The Rings franchise) were jailed too; that specific example led to Peter Jackson (the director of the acclaimed live action trilogy of the books) defending the comedian. This represents the dangerous power Erdogan wields internationally as well as domestically, but more on that later.
The guy also has a Stalin streak within him as well: back in 2016 after a failed military coup against him, Erdogan started to purge various people within higher ranks in society who he deemed traitors. This included having over 50,000 people arrested and 160,000 fired from their jobs as a result, not to mention a heavier crackdown on the press as discussed earlier. There was a backlash from the international community about this, noting how his lack of fair trials during this period were tyrannical. The internet was also purged during this time: most notably Wikipedia was banned in the country because of the supposed ‘offensive content’ carried by the website. The move was criticised by the website’s co-founder Jimmy Wales who noted on Twitter how he would always ‘fight’ for the Turkish people’s ‘right’ to access of information.
Meanwhile, he also fired academics and slandered them for signing a petition, which called for him to stop the military crackdown on ethnically Kurdish areas in the eastern part of the country, most notably places like Sur. Finally, as recently as this year, he also sacked 18,000 officials, including military personnel, police officers and academics, for alleged links to US based cleric Fethullah Gulen. As we can see, opposition is not tolerated in Erdogan’s Turkey.
Meanwhile, like all despots, he has a thing for expanding his power. Back in April 2017, he backed laws which made it virtually illegal for the executive branch of government to be held accountable by the legislative branch via investigation.
To add to this, a recent referendum was held, of which would give Erdogan powers including those of changing the current Parliamentary system into a Presidential one, with the position of Prime Minister being abolished in its entirety, all the while with changes to the amount of seats held in Parliament from 550 to 600, Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors and the increased executive powers the President would have. That referendum, worryingly, went in Erdogan’s favour with a 51% Yes vote to these changes to 49% No vote to them. The referendum’s victory was controversial, given that apparently, prominent No campaigners were censored by the state, while the Yes campaigners had better access to state sponsored materials and campaigning.
Finally, he also has a worrying amount of power across his borders. Firstly, his power to threaten governments like what happened with the German comedian, which led to the comedian’s subsequent poem which mocked Erdogan being deleted from its original website, and him having to be protected by police because of retaliation from supporters of Erdogan.
The British magazine The Spectator subsequently made a competition in protest of the incident whereby they had other writers mock Erdogan, with the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson winning the contest.
Meanwhile, he has various links to Islamist parties across Europe, including the Dutch party DENK, of which refused to criticise the despot’s crackdown within his home country, and also deny the Armenian genocide of which acknowledging in Turkey is a criminal offence.
Meanwhile, the Justice Equality Party in France face similar accusations. Not to mention their meddling in Syria is also heavily worrying. This is most frequently seen with their bombing of Kurdish positions, but came to a head back in 2014, when they notoriously shot down a Russian plane, of which the Russian President called it a ‘stab in the back by accomplices of terrorism’.
While relations between the two have since healed, the lack of care by the likes of Erdogan over international relations seems alarming. Erdogan has also been alleged to have given sarin gas to the rebels in Syria to carry out chemical attacks to blame on the Assad regime. The main reason for this is potentially to serve Erdogan’s goal to restoring the former Ottoman Empire, both given his party’s description of advocating neo-Ottomanism fitting in with Erdogan’s statements about there being no moderate Islam and his support for terrorist groups like ISIS of which could aid that goal. There is a reason why Turkey is a state sponsor of ISIS after all.
Given all this, the threats that the Turkish government is laying against the Austrian government over the latter’s recent closure of mosques and expelling of extremist imams from the country shouldn’t be dismissed too lightly.
So here we are; a supposed secular country being ruled by a tyrant who cares far more about power and spreading his influence across the globe than anything else. Dissidence will not be tolerated in Erdogan’s Turkey; only utter compliance and obedience. He is one of the most dangerous men in the world currently, giving even the likes of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei a run for their money. It seems that with his re-election, only a bullet could put a permanent stop to his danger. The fact that his own military tried to overthrow him should scream loudly as to what a threat he poses and how the bullet solution previously mentioned had been seen as a last resort before and could be again.
The cruel irony is that Erdogan started life out as a footballer, specifically for the Kasımpasa team. Usually when an idiotic footballer discusses politics, they whinge about how bigoted and racist the opposition is, and then go back to selling crisps to the general masses. Instead here, an idiotic footballer has gone on to become one of the most dangerous men in the world. Let that sink in. And then weep at the fact that this man has been re-elected and will continue to spread havoc across the globe to complete his evil agenda. We live in seriously dark times indeed.