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November 28, 2012, Wednesday

Tactic or for real?

Remarks from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan severely criticizing “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (The Magnificent Century), a historical soap opera centered on the intrigues of the Ottoman Palace, have become a hot issue of debate in the Turkish media. Erdoğan feels the series undermines the golden age of Turkish history and distorts historical facts, and he has called on the judiciary to take action.

Sabah's Nazlı Ilıcak links Erdoğan's move with his conservative identity and says Erdoğan is trying to act like our moral police. However, in a pluralist community like ours, individuals might have different values, and the peace of our community depends on our respect for values different from ours. No one, including the prime minister, has the right to police or guard our moral values, she says. The columnist then gives the example of another series titled “Huzur Sokağı” (Peace Street), which praises conservative and religious lives. If we had the government and military we had during the Feb. 28, 1997 coup period, then this series would be the target of criticism, she says and adds that we should just quit guarding the morality of our people and trust their common sense.

On the other hand, Fehmi Koru from the Star daily argues that this and some other issues Erdoğan previously criticized prove Koru's argument that Erdoğan sees himself like a father who is responsible for protecting his children from potential dangers and bad influences. And like fathers, he can't let go of anything that he deems wrong without warning people about it and expressing his wish that he wants it to be fixed. He fixes those things that can be changed and lets go of those that are impossible to change. Erdoğan feels that reintroducing capital punishment, removing some deputies' parliamentary immunity, abolishing university prep courses, banning abortion, etc., would be for the people's good. But he had to drop some of these ideas from the agenda when he was faced with negative reactions from the public. His wish to remove the “Magnificent Century” from TV will be one of those that he will have to give up, he notes.

Focusing on a recent argument that Erdoğan makes most of his moves by taking into consideration the demands of the majority of society, and in turn expresses their views and demands, Taraf's Mithat Sancar says if there is any truth to this argument, then what the prime minister is doing is basically surrendering to populism, which can easily turn into pluralist authoritarianism, he claims.

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