On Sunday June 2nd, the anti-capitalist Islamic group “Revolutionary Muslims” [Devrimci Müslümanlar] posted this open letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on their Facebook page. “Revolutionary Muslims” were among the first groups to occupy Gezi Park in protest against its destruction. The letter is written by the Islamic intellectual and author Recep Kaya.
Mashallah News is posting a translation of this open letter, not as an endorsement of it, but as part of our editorial commitment to reporting under-reported stories that do not fit in with dominant narratives about the Middle East. We make no promises as to the accuracy of any claims made in the letter.
An open letter to Tayyip from a Believer:
I’m not going to open my writing with “Mr.” or “my prime minister”, you realize, because I wanted to specify what could be counted as being on your side and what no longer remains on your side.
I am -knowing you ever since the Welfare Party (1) period, with several members of my family in those times being active in the National Youth Foundation (2), who then have proceeded to supporting the AK Party- fundamentally coming from a place of working to express your vision and mission. The, in your parlance “Pure Youth” (3) …let them eat that youth!
But from this point, I’ve come to a place where I feel ashamed even carrying the same name as you. What a coincidence it is, that just one or two days before the events at Gezi park I even tweeted “change your name, Tayyip, over here you should be Recep” at your official account.
For the last two days I’ve been trying to catch a glimpse of you on TV but I can’t be patient with you for even five minutes longer. I think you need to drop these explanations and think about how this society which has been patient for eleven years has exploded.
When we voted for you, we voted because we were tired of being seen as “second class citizens” (4)! Today, you have implemented the oppression we have suffered to those who oppose you. Our sisters who you told to comfortably work and study in their headscarves voted for you but today you don’t let youth with different political thought be comfortable even at school.
Files were kept on us because we prayed, worship will be our freedom you said, and we voted for you, today plainclothes police and religious brotherhood members (5) go as far as the countryside to keep files on the youth of the families who voted for you. We voted for you because we were exposed to persecution and today you have come to practice it. We were tortured by the military, our sisters couldn’t go to swearing-in ceremonies (6) so we voted for you, today you’ve transformed this country into a police-dominated state where we’ve become afraid to walk in the street.
We voted for you to live our own lives freely. You count all the people defying the freedom that doesn’t come from you!
Prime Minister! You said that you were going to give the plazas down to the people! Who are you going to give it down to? Those at the age where they don’t use computers and the internet, who therefore haven’t seen those living in Reyhanlı (7), who haven’t seen you exhibiting your fascistic tendencies in Gezi Park, the people 40-50 years and up who are struggling to bring up their kids with some bread? I’m going to tell you something you don’t realize. The kids of those mothers and fathers are also in the streets. Even people who vote for you are in the streets, Mister Tayyip….I’d go even father and say you’ve been issued notice. You’re making a big mistake. I say this openly because the society that resists your gorilla police, your tear gas, your plastic bullets, armored riot-control vehicles, has eaten your past election results raw.
Today, while I and people like me pray at our side are the ones you called “marginal groups” who stand watch over me and wait should I come to harm. Even more than this, if the Fenerbaçe and Galatasary team supporters who a few weeks ago killed each other (8) can come together then apparently leftist, rightists, the devout and secularists can come together….
You have ended your political career today Tayyip Erdoğan. You are not even aware that you have committed political suicide today. Other than your young, on your side- other than money, power, and your given orders to a handful of doting heathens- there’s nothing. And Mister Tayyip….the heathen clings to his faith until Mecca is conquered, and when your strength ends will be when your followers reach their expiration date. …and don’t worry, Mister Tayyip if your strength as from this day onwards does decline, it’s the real end. Take the Motherland Party as an example (9).
I will not abandon being a believer and I will not abandon crying out “Tayyip Resign!” Why? Because I’ve met people like you who call themselves “religious”, and if you achieve our freedoms with such monied wealth that it makes you into the greatest heathen idolaters, I prefer to experience oppression or even to be persecuted and tortured.
Allah (SWT) will give every opponent to persecution the hereafter. Yet if strength continues to be added to your cursed power I do not know what answer the hereafter will give to us. If you go, even if we go back to the persecution we lived in yesterday a new day will come, revolt and revolution still lives in this country. We will yet break our own chains and win our freedom; but regardless of what this nation thinks we won’t stay spectators if any child experiences oppression because of some mujahid looking construction contractor like you. As a Muslim, at the very least I cannot stay a spectator….because I worship Allah (SWT) and like our beloved Prophet commands; “Even if I am persecuted, I cannot persecute” Like Hz. Imam Ali said : “Tyranny is inhumanity. If you experience a thousand persecutions, do not persecute. What difference then remains between the persecutions you have lain exposed to and the tyranny you respond with?” and I “take refuge from oppression and being oppressed in Allah (SWT)”.
For what you’ve done in Gezi Park, and for showing us what we can do as a people thank you very much Mister Tayyip. I know that you will respond to this letter by saying “this is the work of provocateurs!” You’re fooling yourselves. Your applauders who add to your arrogance until it exceeds even your humanity cannot be expected! Yet you will not enter the grave with applause, you will enter it alone and you will not give any account for the slave’s rights which you have taken away….
We are now able as Alevis, Sunnis, leftists, rightists, devout, secularists, to come to one place. We have torn down the walls of thorns which your social engineers have striven for years to weave with seeds of hate with one blow. We are clenched together like a fist. I speak out to you and people like you, who sit stuck in your chairs while we resist in Gezi Park, I speak out to “the ones who sell the people and voters” and the other bigwigs in parliament. Your politics of hate will no longer be our master. Realize this.
In order to prevent poverty (of the hearts), paucity (of good deeds), contempt, oppression and being oppressed, we find refuge in Allah.
1 The Refah Party was Turkey’s first widely successful Islamic-inspired political party.
2 The National Youth Foundation was the Refah Party’s youth movement.
3 Ak, or “Pure” Youth- a play on the name of the AK Party.
4 A widely held perception that observant Muslims were treated poorly by the secular state establishment.
5 “Cemaatçi kadrolarınız” – members of the mainstream conservative religious associations which were instrumental in supporting the AKP.
6 Women in headscarves were barred by the secularist military from attending military conscription ceremonies, often an important life event for the girl’s brothers and husbands.
7 A town near the Syrian border subject to a car bomb attack by unknown parties whıch kılled 51 people and injured 140. This attack, the deadliest single terrorist act in Turkish history, was subject to a total media blackout and no word of it spread outside internet and social media sources.
8 A few weeks before the demonstrations a fan was killed in a football-related fight between supporters of two of Istanbul’s big football (soccer) teams.
9 A secular conservative party once headed by the powerful pro free-market and pro-privatization prime minister Turgut Ozal, now diminished to the margins of Turkish political life.
The letter was translated by one of our contributors, Josef Burton.