By Ebru Altan
The popular protest assumed to have begun due to sensitivity at the planned demolition of Taksim Square’s Gezi Park wall within the scope of the Expansion Project and a number of trees being uprooted and replanted elsewhere soon turned into a movement of opposition to the administration across Turkey, and the country underwent a major test during the events.
For days on end we watched as provocateurs seized the opportunity to openly spread terror in the country.
Places of work, public buildings, hundreds of vehicles and municipality buses were burned and destroyed, and the police were attacked with Molotov cocktails.
It is of course a fact that we cannot speak of democracy in a place where there is no freedom of thought and expression because in democratic societies people have the right to freely defend their ideas.
People are never oppressed because of their opinions and nobody is persecuted for his ideas. People who espouse different ideologies are not excluded or humiliated.
Indeed, not only ideas the trouble nobody, but also sensitive opinions that provoke and rock society can be loudly expressed.
But there is a limit to such voices everywhere in the world.
That limit constitutes in not choosing to go down the path of terror, violence and defamation.
Voices that abide by these bounds will strengthen the state’s own immune system and have a positive effect on the public will to see differences co-exist.
Freedom of thought and expression are a requirement of democracy
“On condition of keeping the above bounds,” freedom of thought and expression means that people are completely at liberty to share their beliefs, feelings and ideas in the outside world.
In democratic societies, people who adhere to these bounds enjoy these liberties and can express their thoughts with no feelings of anxiety.
In order for people to be able to live at ease and in security, both conceptions must prevail inside the country.
In this way, problems can be resolved in peace and security.
The important thing is for people to express their ideas peaceably without resorting to violence. Another important issue is to accept the existence of and respect the other person;
For us to treat someone with tolerance even if he holds different views and opinions;
For us to be able to put ourselves in his place and establish empathy;
For us to be able to put up with ideological and behavioral differences;
And as always, to be open to criticism.
Only when we have achieved that will we have absorbed democracy in the individual and broader social sense.
Our primary aim; to defend the integrity of our motherland
In short, so long as there is no terror, violence, vandalism or defamation, the free espousal of ideas and protesting against ideas and behavior in the case of differences of opinion are normal and legitimate.
However, it is also important for certain issues not to be ignored.
We must not forget that Turkey is a country that has been exposed to regional and universal threats and to internal and external enemies from the past right up to today.
It is a target for enmity, attacks and treachery due to its geopolitical position and the important role it assumes in international politics.
We have seen very clearly with recent events how certain persons with ulterior motives have resorted to a range of methods in order to weaken Turkey and damage its national unity and integrity.
At such times, the duty of all rational and sensible people is to be on guard against those who would seek to break the strength of the country and against the cunning snares, systems and ideologies of sinister forces. It is to remain loyal to national and spiritual values, to protect the country, the flag and spiritual matters and to willingly accept all possible risk for that sake.
Turkey is the only country in the entire Turkish-Islamic world that can be a leader.
In these days, when the Turkish-Islamic world is heading toward unification, there are dark forces that want to break Turkey’s power.
Part of the Western world are deeply uneasy at a Turkey that is growing every stronger and moving out of its control.
An easily controlled Turkey is far more in their interests.
A strong Turkey in the region – and its assuming a leadership position – represents a major obstacle for them.
In these days when there are so many sinister traps regarding our country, we must be on our guard and act as one more than ever before.
Our nation must set its differences aside, and its members must cling tightly to one another, love one another and watch over our national and spiritual values even more than ever before.
There is no doubt that our primary aim must be to protect the strength, union and unity of our motherland.