On July 15., a sudden military coup d’état took place in Turkey while the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on holiday. The Peace at Home Council, one of the many factions of the Turkish military army, led this coup by trying to seize many different key areas in Turkey, including Ankara and Istanbul. Turkey received a lot of media coverage over the summer and rumors about the events were shut down before worldwide alarm set in. Having lived in Istanbul, Turkey for the past three years, and having spent my summer there, I was able to witness this media blitz and the events that followed the coup.
President Erdogan managed to “crush” the insurgency, arresting around 6,000 people he claimed to be responsible for the coup in a short period of time. Judges, military officials, and others were arrested, leaving Turkey in a state of shock and chaos. Nonetheless, there seemed to be something strange with the story that was presented by President Erdogan, as the people arrested seemed to be very specifically and meticulously chosen. It is hard to believe this coup was genuine when just five hours after the start of the coup, thousands of high-officials were arrested and quickly proven guilty to be a part of it.
It seems as if Erdogan staged a coup himself to consolidate power. If this is true, his plan seems to have worked. Istanbul and Ankara were the only two cities in Turkey that historically had been politically against Erdogan. After the coup, however, even people in the metropolitan areas began to change their views and opinions on him.
As Erdogan has previously stated, he and his government are conservatives who want to re-establish a neo-ottoman empire. Slowly, people have been giving in to his nationalism and pride, becoming more approving of him.
Xenophobia and homophobia were at an all-time high during my three years living in Istanbul. In fact, I began to feel unsafe walking down certain parts of the city because I was obviously a “yabanci” – a foreigner. Erdogan’s nationalistic hate speech is slowly turning over the population due to his charm and new status as the “Savior of Turkish Democracy” – something that has been absent in Turkey since Erdogan’s rise to power.
I remain very skeptical as to the truth behind this coup. What we do know for certain is that Erdogan is much more powerful, influential, and potent than he used to be thanks to the recent sanctification of his image across the Turkish population.