In addition to the unfortunate memories left from last year's deadly coup attempt on July 15, there were also many substantial takeaways that provide sociological glimpses into the psyche of Turkey and the political behavior and consciousness of the general public that we previously never had the opportunity to observe.
Among the most significant observations were the rapid normalization and control capabilities of Turkish society toward chaotic and traumatic events; developed consciousness for the preservation of democracy; active political subjectivity; and especially the advanced activism on display among conservative women previously pushed away from public and political arena.
Turkey, as a victim of its geography, has been the target of an inordinate number of terrorist attacks, and consequently has had to channel more of its resources to counterterrorism. It also had to handle a huge refugee influx caused by the vicious civil war in Syria, its southern neighbor. If these weren't enough, it faced a coup attempt, a concerted attack on its democracy and democratically elected government. Hundreds died and thousands were wounded during the coup attempt. Still, even the morning after the failed coup, there was mostly peace on streets across the country. Shops were opened at their designated times, those who wanted to go on holiday, mostly made it to their destinations. Life returned to normal in an abnormally short time.
Not only after a coup attempt, but also in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack, people continue from where they left off, finding solace and strength from the ordinary hustle and bustle of life.
In Kilis, on the Syrian border, the Syrian population outnumbers the locals. Such a state of affairs, which usually destabilizes the established sociological and demographic equilibrium almost everywhere in the world, but the people of Kilis have displayed incredible maturity and adapted to the changes of circumstance. Turkish society has displayed an advanced level of maturity, acceptance and ability to normalize. It has repeatedly demonstrated the strength of character that quells any attempt by terrorist groups to create chaos.
Political subjectivity, on the other hand, has developed over time. At the time of the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup, the moment the plotters announced the coup on the state-run television channel and announced a curfew, the coup had succeeded. There were no instances of people flooding the streets and confronting tanks.
The Democrat Party (DP), which governed the country during the 1950s, and its leader Adnan Menderes were very popular among the public. His hanging by the putschists caused serious public trauma. However, there was an absolute lack of public resistance in either of the coups, with most ordinary Turks quietly acquiescing to military rule. Their only course of opposition was to vote against politicians supported by coup leaders in the next elections, which they duly did in both cases.
On the other hand, on July 15, 2016, the public's evident political awareness manifested itself through its mobilization against the illegal coup attempt that tried to subvert its will. The Turkish public finally showed that it will never again tolerate any infringement of its democratic will.
The third point, political participation and activism by conservative women is a little studied topic and remains an unknown. For many decades, rigid laicism as practiced by the state, coupled with obvious discrimination, pushed conservative women outside the political mainstream and decision-making mechanisms. However, they have been politically active since at least the founding of the Welfare Party's (RP) women branch in 1989, forming the backbone of the party grassroots. They became symbols of societal mobility while fighting against religious bigotry and secular zealotry.
They were also on the streets on the night of July 15, fighting on the frontlines against the putschists. They organized resistance cells in their small neighborhoods, mobilized city-wide networks to trail the plotters, and later took the lead in the nightly democracy watches held for weeks afterwards. They were proof of how important women's participation in democratic process has become in Turkey.
Many new societal dynamics have come to the surface after last year's failed coup and for anyone who wants to correctly assess what is happening in Turkey needs detailed knowledge on what they are.
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