R4BIA as one of the inspirations of Turkish resistance
by Pınar Kandemir
Jul 22, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Pınar Kandemir
Jul 22, 2016 12:00 am
Just two days after the coup in Egypt on July 13, 2013, when the military had overthrown the Muslim Brotherhood government, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned the coup without waiting for any other states' reactions: "What happened in Egypt is not an intervention, but a coup. The West sides with democracy, doesn't it? It was a test of sincerity, and the West failed it. There is no democratic coup. Some people are making sentences beginning with "A coup is bad, but..." There are no such "buts," a coup is bad." Just after the coup, the one to assert that the coup in Egypt could never be democratic and the leader to condemn it most severely was Erdoğan. He said: "The ballot box is the honor of democracy", and he invited the entire world to act against the coup with a "sincere, principled and an ethical position."
Anti-coup protesters who gathered in front of the Egypt Consulate in Istanbul from the first day of the coup condemned the coup as loud as the protesters in Egypt. The biggest support was from those who took to the streets in Turkey and from Erdoğan, who constantly complimented the courage of the protesters in Egypt. The civilian deaths and injuries after being fired upon on Aug. 14, 2013, made hundreds of people take to the streets in Turkey. The "rabia" sign, which was the symbol of the resistance, became Erdoğan's salute at his meetings with crowds ever since then.
Erdoğan, who has never failed to salute the protesters in Egypt with the "rabia" sign for the last three years, saluted his people who resisted against the coup attempt on the streets on the night of July 15-16, with the "rabia" sign during his speeches after the failed coup. Erdoğan was the strongest voice against the coup in Egypt, and has been the most important dynamic that prepared the substructure of the anti-coup resistance in Turkey. Erdoğan, who burst in tears for Asma el-Bilteci, who was killed by a sniper, taught his people step by step that coups can and should be resisted. The coup attempt and the people's extraordinary reaction has shown that Erdoğan's most important investment during his 40 years of political life was his sincere rhetoric of the national will against coups. His support of Egyptians resisting the coup in Rabaa Square was one of the most important examples of this position.
This rhetoric against coups and any kind of undemocratic intervention in politics has always been the most important driving force of Erdoğan's political discourse since the very beginning. Erdoğan's statement to be "taking this road with his white burial robe," since the very first day of his government and his reference to former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes's execution, who was the first Turkish prime minister to come to power in elections, and saying that he acquired his political roots from Menderes and the Democrat Party, which was based on his liberal principles, and being the most popular leader after Menderes have engraved the similarities between Menderes and Erdoğan in many people's subconscious. After every crisis Erdoğan has faced, his supporters, who put Erdoğan's picture next to one of Menderes on their banners, promised that Erdoğan's fate would never be like that of Menderes. So, indeed, whenever the rumor of a coup has appeared, the people take to the streets to prove this.
It might be said that the real awareness of acting against a coup was complete when Erdoğan became a symbol during the Egypt coup. Turkish people witnessed a resistance very closely, step-by-step, since Erdoğan was always referring to the Rabaa resistance. Erdoğan invited Turkish people to support the struggle for democracy there. He harshly criticizes those who call a coup "a democratic coup" of being hypocrites. As the leader who reacted against the coup most severely, Erdoğan addressed other Muslim leaders in one of his speeches, saying: "Our brothers in Egypt are slaughtered, justice and conscience in Egypt are slaughtered, and when will you hear about this? When will you see? Our brothers' blood is being shed, when will you notice this blood? Don't you forget that tomorrow the same thing might happen to you. The one who still remains silent about this violence is the one to collaborate."
At that time, Erdoğan was probably not expecting a coup attempt in Turkey, but when it happened in Turkey, the people proved that they learned a lot from the Rabaa resistance by doing an even better job.
* Director, Daily Sabah Centre for policy studies, Turkey
About the author
* PhD Researcher in King’s College London, University of London