Will terrorism divide Turkey?

Following the attack on a nightclub in Istanbul many see Turkey's pluralist society under pressure. President Erdoğan warned in a speech about divisions in the country and promised that all citizens would retain their personal freedom. Meanwhile, hateful comments have appeared on the web criticising victims of the attack for their lifestyle. Commentators warn that the rifts in Turkish society must not be allowed to deepen.

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The Guardian (GB) /

Society remains diverse and courageous

The world owes it to traumatised Turkey not to overlook its civil society, the Guardian explains:

“It is easy, when looking at a country in the grip of authoritarianism, to see just the despot and not the millions of citizens who populate the land in all their diversity and with all their aspirations. One man captures all the attention because he is deemed to control so much – and, indeed, his power is unrelenting. But as a nation mourns its dead, one way to manifest solidarity is to remember that despite the pressures there remains a vivid civil society in Turkey, aspiring to democracy, openness and tolerance, not hatred and divisiveness, and it is showing much courage. The scale of the country’s simultaneous and multiple traumas makes that spirit of resistance all the more admirable.”

Sabah (TR) /

Stand together in the fight against terror

Turkey is battling on all fronts against terror and one should avoid using different lifestyles for political ends, writes Sabah, which is loyal to the government:

“Now the terrorist IS is the target. The siege of al-Bab [in Syria by the Turkish armed forces] continues. We know that all kinds of obstacles are being put in Turkey's way there to ensure that it fails. … In this region, of which Turkey forms the centre, a complex game is being played. Its initiators and participants know that they can't subjugate Turkey with bombs and killings. So in this dangerous game the conflicts between Kurds and Turks, between Alavites and Sunnis and between secular and conservative forces are being fuelled. … If secular and religious politicians now start attacking each other's lifestyle for political ends they will hurt this country even more than terrorism is doing. At this stage the main responsibility lies with the politicians, and each of them must think carefully about what they say.”

Observador (PT) /

A black hole devoid of democratic ideals

Turkey is caught up in a vicious circle of instability and fear, says Nazli Mukadder Bhatia, who has been living in Portugal since 2008 and teaches at the Catholic School of Business and Economics in Lisbon. In Observador she writes:

“People often ask me what has happened to my once so highly praised and promising country. … Nowhere else has the destabilisation of the region had as profound an impact as it has in Turkey. … But why? Well, in my opinion this mainly has to do with the internal dynamics of the country. … Turkey has moved rapidly away from the democratic ideals on which the country was founded - and appears to be turning into an autocratic regime plagued by fear, paranoia and oppression. And I fear that Turkey's plunge into this black hole will create even more instability and insecurity in this already chaotic region.”

Habertürk (TR) /

Make efforts to overcome differences

Following the latest terrorist attack people in Turkey must resist attempts to open up rifts in society, warns the columnist Nihal Bengisu Karaca in Habertürk:

“Not only I, but everyone I know and religious people I respect suffered that night as if their own relatives had died. ... We condemn this act, but it is a fact that the person who carried out the Reina massacre was aware that there are very different lifestyles in Turkey. The attack was aimed at creating a rift in society. ... We should therefore strengthen the things we share. Call up your old friends with whom you’ve had intellectual, political or ideological differences in recent years and show your empathy, offer them your condolences, mend fences. Because it is not enough to say that the terrorists have not been successful. If we don’t change our attitudes and reflexes, then one day they will be successful.”

Karar (TR) /

All victims are the same

Unlike the victims of other acts of terrorism those who died in the attack at Istanbul's Reina nightclub are not described by the Turkish government as martyrs but simply as fatalities, Karar objects:

“We should use the term 'martyrs' for all innocent people who are brutally killed and fall victim to terrorism, because there is no difference between the people who were killed by terrorism after a football match and those who were shot dead while they were enjoying themselves at a nightclub. ... When our country is being targeted by terrorist attacks from all directions, when the bullets are aimed at our national unity and solidarity, at our fraternity, then every citizen who is killed in such attacks should be described as a martyr! Full stop.”