Aug. 7, 2016 turned a new page in the history of the Republic of Turkey. On Sunday, millions of people from all around the country flowed into Istanbul's Yenikapı Square. The verb "flow" is the correct depiction of the picture since the movement of the crowds was reminiscent of sea waves undulating in the same direction. The scene, which encompassed all segments of society, formed an inspiring and poetic image.
The gates of the rally area opened at 10:30 a.m. even though the rally was announced to start at 5:00 p.m. And crowds flowed into the square from the first moment the gates opened. Also consider the fact that the weather in Istanbul is currently having its hottest days. The temperature is around 38 degrees Celsius in the sun and shade is hard to find. The citizens of the country happily and eagerly flowed into the square amid the heat. More than 4 million people gathered in the square while hundreds of thousands remained outside since no room was left in the main rally area.
I have never defined myself as a nationalist. Contrarily, I have believed that as a liberal democrat it is necessary to embrace the entire world in the same way. However recently, the incidents in Turkey reached such an extent and we had such difficulties explaining ourselves to the rest of the world that some nationalistic feelings have been felt by all segments of society along with the nationalists.
I must be explicit that on the night of July 15, a shady terrorist organization headed by Fethullah Gülen that had infiltrated the military attempted to take over the country. What we have gone through is an occupation and "invasion" attempt rather than a coup attempt. The terrorists opened fire on civilians with the state's weapons and killed hundreds. Such a big tragedy, which can be compared to 9/11 in the U.S., was represented in a wrong way in the Western media following the incidents. The West adopted a stance as if assuming that the July 15 coup attempt was the result of a political conflict between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Gülen, and Erdoğan plotted the incidents to consolidate his power. This approach led to public resentment in all segments of Turkish society regardless of ideological differences.
Just try to imagine the scene as an outsider: One night, hundreds of warplanes belonging to your country's military begin to fly low over the city and cause sonic booms. You begin to think about how to save your children and family. The bridges are blocked by armed militant troops and a group of assassins raids the location where the president is to kill him. The incidents would still look unreal were it to be depicted in a Hollywood movie. But unfortunately, all citizens of Turkey experienced this nightmare on the night of July 15 and saw how they were left alone by the rest of the world and how distant the international media behaved.
Last Thursday, as a small group of journalists, we met the U.S. ambassador to Ankara, John Bass. I sensed a self-critical tone in the ambassador's remarks with regard to the U.S.'s approach to the coup attempt. The increasing American and Western dissidence in Turkey concerns the U.S., and Washington began to feel the necessity of empathizing with us. This is a positive development since they would push away an important ally if they continue to remain indifferent to the incidents in Turkey and leave the country alone. Even I, a writer siding with integration into the world and EU negotiations, have been feeling profound injustice lately. Then think about how the rest of society feels.
Aug. 7 was a revolution for Turkish society. I hope it will also be revolutionary in terms of Turkey's relations with the West.