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May 20, 2012, Sunday

Turkey and hidden fanaticisms

Recent nonsensical arguments that the Gülen movement wants to control the Fenerbahçe football club and its political and social effect on Fenerbahçe fans once again proved that Turkey is not a country of rational people.

Now, even under the pressure of Fenerbahçe and perhaps for political reasons, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish Football Federation's (TFF) Professional Football Discipline Committee (PFDK) has admitted that Fenerbahçe executives committed the crime of match fixing. The evidence in the court file is so obvious that even the TFF, which was selected to cover the stinking truth about Fenerbahçe and other football clubs' involvement in the match-fixing crime, had to admit that such things took place.

What would rational people, even football fans, do under these circumstances? Question the club executives why they did this, right? In Turkey, even well-known journalists forgot about their names and reputations, forgot about the facts and have created a fictitious world, which they've started to believe in. The Gülen movement wants to control the Fenerbahçe football club. No one question why this movement would want to control this club and make other club fans its adversaries. No one questions what the benefit to the Gülen movement would be if it tries to control the Fenerbahçe club.

That is why I claim that Turkey is not a country of rational people. Rather, it is a country of fanatics -- people who believe in one thing and never question their beliefs.

One can list the areas of fanaticism in Turkey: football, politics, religion and nationalism.

For football, the Fenerbahçe incident has proven that even the most rational of people can lose their mind enough to believe fiction instead of looking at the facts. The fact is that Fenerbahçe President Aziz Yıldırım even admitted himself a number of times that the championships in Turkey cannot be earned on football fields but can only be fixed behind closed doors. Finally, a prosecutor has investigated the match-fixing allegations and proved that the Fenerbahçe president is right. Indeed, Fenerbahçe won its championship title through “usual methods” that other teams also resort to. Now the question those Fenerbahçe fanatics ask is: Why do you punish only Fenerbahçe and not other teams? The answer is simple: Because there was only one “champion” last year. I am sure if it were Galatasaray, the prosecutor would have investigated how Galatasaray become champion.

In politics, throughout the 1970s, Turkey was a country in crisis because of fanaticism in politics. Turkish society was literally divided into two camps: leftist and rightist, which constantly clashed with one another. Thus, we faced military coups, and many crises to end fanaticisms. In the 1990s, Turkish society finally left the fanaticisms aside but this time became an apolitical society that does not care about what politicians do.

Since the 2000s we have a new generation of political fanatics, the fanatics of Erdoğan. For Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) it is good to have such people who really believe in him and his party; however, it is not good for Turkey because with this much power, no one questions Erdoğan's way of governance. For a healthy democracy and for the future of the country, such fanaticism is not good.

For nationalism, there is no doubt that the ethnic nationalism is dying around the world, but in Turkey people are still dying and killing for their national identity. Turkey now has clashes between Kurdish nationalists and Turkish nationalists. It seems that the fanaticism in nationalism never ends.

As for religion, it is claimed that Turkey is a moderate country that people live in peace and no one interferes in the religious affairs of others. Yet the facts on the ground are obvious. The government of this country, despite the fact that it declared it would open Christian monasteries, could not open them because of religious and nationalist resistance. Permanent religious leaders have openly supported that Turkey should open those monasteries, but because of the fear of public relations in politics, politicians recalculate their decisions.

All in all, in a normal day you could not see any fanaticism in Turkey but the Fenerbahçe incident once again showed that Turkey is a country of hidden fanatics who make themselves known when one questions them for whatever reason.

Previous articles of the columnist