February 25, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8586

Leading Turkish Journalist Reflects On AKP Government: 'Much That Belonged To Us Is Gone... But, Above All, They Stole Our Faith'

February 25, 2020
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 8586

In a February 21, 2020 column in the Turkish daily Sözcü, titled "Above All, What Did They Steal?" journalist Bekir Coşkun reflected on the cultural damage that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP government, which has been in power for 18 years, has done: "In the past 18 years they have done what the Crusader armies could not do... Much that belonged to us is gone... But, above all, they stole our faith."[1]

Turkish Journalist Bekir Coşkun.

After his publication of an article in September 2013, members of parliament representing the AKP filed a criminal suit against Bekir Coşkun, as a result of which he was sentenced to one year, two months, and 17 days in prison. Turkey's Constitutional Court overturned the decision in 2015, calling it "a violation of free expression" and Coşkun was instead fined 5,000 Turkish lira. More recently, Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan cited Coşkun's case in a dissenting opinion, news of which was published under the headline: "Bekir Coşkun Has Become A Symbol Of Freedom Of Expression And Of The Press."[2]

Following is a translation of Coşkun's article.

They Stole "Our Factories, Our Coves, Our Ports, Our Republic... The Legacy Of Our Founder, The Silhouettes Of Our Cities... The Future Of Our Children, Our Modernity... And They Stole Our Faith"

"Our factories, our coves, our ports, our republic, our beings, the legacy of our founder, the silhouettes of our cities, our green areas, our oath, our marches, our national feelings, the future of our children, our modernity... They cannot be counted... While maybe we can get some of them back, some will never come back... And they stole our faith...

"When I was in third grade, my grandma Emine had taught me my first prayers, and when I recited them correctly, she bought me a pair of blue socks. With my blue socks on my feet, my uncle Osman held my hand and brought me to Friday prayers in Bozova.[3] Then... Then as my little mind matured and I saw the fraudulence committed in the name of religion, those initial feelings of mine began to fly away... The tranquility in my heart abandoned me...

"I would really like to know a man of faith in an immaculate house of worship with a wise face, who is far from the grime of the world, who does not reject what is taught to us in school, who can explain to me love, compassion, peace, mercy, and how to be a good person... But it has not happened."

"In The Past 18 Years They Have Done What The Crusader Armies Could Not Do, The Annuities, The Looting, The Disgraces In The Dormitories, The Attacks On The Republic, The Murders Of The Law, The Backwardness"

"In fact, as I grew up and saw what was hidden under the cover of religion, I thought of my blue socks. The exploiters of religion took naïve people like me who began in a happy way alongside themselves, established congregations, cults, and, indeed, political parties, and made them resemble themselves... Those like me were left out... To not be near them... To not share anything with them... Far away and angry...

"Maybe when you read this article, most of you will say: 'He is describing me.' Because it is not just me. It is all of you, too... In the past 18 years they have done what the Crusader armies could not do, the annuities, the looting, the disgraces in the dormitories, the attacks on the republic, the murders of the law, the backwardness, all in the name of religion, turned into an insurrection in the hearts of the faithful...

"They took from our hands the only place to which I could close my eyes in the darkness of the night and run with my blue socks to find tranquility... Much that belonged to us is gone... But, above all, they stole our faith."


[1], February 21, 2020.

[2], February 13, 2020.

[3] Bozova is a district of the city of Şanlıurfa, Turkey.

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