As I wrote on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has responded to last weekend’s failed military coup with a merciless purge of the nation’s police force, judiciary, administrative, military, and religions affairs departments. This Tuesday, he fired tens of thousands of public employees.
Erdogan seems to have targeted the education system, instructing the Ministry of Education to fire 15,200 personnel for alleged involvement in the attempted coup. The Interior Ministry followed suit by dismissing 8,777 employees, and Turkey’s Board of Higher Education has forced more than 1,500 university deans to resign.
More than 250 employees working at the prime minister’s office were sacked, the Directorate of Religious Affairs dismissed 492 staff, and the Family and Social Policy Ministry fired nearly 400 personnel. These shocking numbers do not take into account the 9,000 people detained immediately following the attempted coup.
President Erdogan was quick to blame Pennsylvania-based cleric Fetullah Gulen and his followers for plotting the coup and has asked the US to extradite him. Secretary of State John Kerry has refused to do so unless Turkey can present the White House with evidence of Gulen’s guilt.
“There will be legal evidence collected in this investigation and we will present all of this to the Americans as part of our extradition request,” said Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. “On the grounds of suspicion, he can be easily extradited. We would like to see cooperation from the US authorities on this issue.”
Gen. Akin Ozturk, former air force commander, and Gen. Adem Hududi, commander of Turkey’s 2nd Army, have also been accused of plotting the coup. Both men have been arrested.
Many rightly worry that Erdogan is using the coup as an excuse to accomplish his own goals, and targeting the education system makes me wonder if eradicating supporters for a secular education is one of them. This is purely conjecture at this point, but could Erdogan be using the failed coup as an excuse to support the Islamification of Turkey through education?
Turkey has always had a strong secular side, but if Erdogan’s behavior matches our guess, we could see the nation evolve into an Egypt or a Saudi Arabia.
In addition to using the failed coup to his personal benefit, Erdogan has managed to piss off the entire EU by promising to nationalize 300,000 Syrian refugees. He has also endangered his possibilities of joining the EU by suggesting a reintroduction of the death penalty, which was outlawed in 2004 as part of a bid to join the EU.
“In a country where our youths are killed with tanks and bombs, if we stay silent, as political people we will be held responsible in the afterlife,” said Erdogan.
The European Union has made it clear that no country enforcing the death penalty will be allowed to join.
Editor’s note: This seems to be a continuation of the Arab Spring. I doubt we have any true allies in the Arab world now.