The picture is the courtesy of "A Not So Turkish Life", the blog of an expat in Turkey. Please read the post titled "My Body: My Choice" to learn the story of this photo.
The mainstream media in the United States have recently published two opinion pieces.
In the first one, the Washington Post's David Ignatius was presenting a positive portrait of Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, while sluring over his "squeeze on Turkish journalists, judges and political foes."
On the other hand, Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, was not as "pragmatic" as Ignatius. He was championing the universal values of democracy, instead of the temporary measures of U.S. national policies, while writing the following words:
"The A.K.P.’s impressively effective prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has not only been effective at building bridges but also in eliminating any independent judiciary in Turkey and in intimidating the Turkish press so that there are no more checks and balances here. With the economic decline of the European Union, the aborting of Turkey’s efforts to become an E.U. member and the need for America to have Turkey as an ally in managing Iraq, Iran and Syria, there are also no external checks on the A.K.P.’s rising authoritarianism. (Erdogan announced out of the blue last week that he intended to pass a law severely restricting abortions.)
So many conversations I had with Turks here ended with me being told: “Just don’t quote me. He can be very vindictive.” It’s like China.This isn’t good. If Erdogan’s “Sultanization” of Turkey continues unchecked, it will soil his truly significant record and surely end up damaging Turkish democracy. It will also be bad for the region because whoever wins the election in Egypt, when looking for a model to follow, will see the E.U. in shambles, the Obama team giving Erdogan a free pass and Turkey thriving under a system that says: Give your people growth and you can gradually curb democratic institutions and impose more religion as you like."
When these articles were being printed, new developments in Turkey were hinting that the worsening situation of Turkey's democracy may not be ephemeral.
As if the debate on the proposed prohibition of abortion is not enough, the Supreme Court produced another dreadful decision, which effectively criminalized pornography in Turkey.
The court had decided that the one year prison sentence that a porn seller was given by a lower court was too lenient, because those CDs included oral and anal sex, which were deemed as "unnatural." He is expected to be sentenced for up to four years in prison now.
The latest ruling has another aspect, it is revealed today: Not only sellers, but nobody in Turkey is allowed to have pornography including anal and oral sex (group sex and gay sex were previously banned). Even at home, it is illegal now.
Just like I don't like abortions, I'm neither a porn fan nor a pornstar (actually, the latter doesn't sound that bad for men, hmm). But what's happening now in Turkey is not about porn at all. For today, the number of the websites that authorities blocked access reached to a mind-boggling figure: 18.912! Yes, many of these websites have pornographic or erotic content (or swimsuit advertisement!), but the rest includes the likes of Russia's largest social networking website Vkontakte and my own website.
One may easily see a pattern here: The political authority, which have recently dominated the whole checks and balances system (including the judiciary, the universities and the media), has started to pursue a more aggressive agenda to quell dissent. Now it feels politically strong enough to realize its social project to "raise a religious generation" in Erdogan's words, which may guarantee the political elite to cling to power for years to come, if done.
This is why dissident politicians and journalists are either in jail or too afraid to speak out. This is why hundreds of students are also jailed. Artists, especially actors, are being silenced. And the abortion debate, as well as the porn rulings, may be seen as an extension of this political domination. Directly inside the bedrooms that were already besieged by warranted or unwarranted bugging devices...
If we'd like to address the dynamics of postmodern Islamism in charge, maybe we should refer to Foucault again, getting back to basics: Discipline and Punish (in disguise of challenging the "military establishment"), the Panopticon (as the whole Turkey now, with widespread eavesdropping and secret filmings) and biopower (no abortion, no porn, just be religious AND obedient).
This is body politics with an Islamic touch, but the irony is in the fact that such political repression is likely to produce even more "abnormalities" in societies. And it generally triggers an implosion or a repercussion, which may upset outsiders, too.