Erdogan, exploiting tragedy for political ends

Erdogan has already proved that he is ready to resort to every dirty tactic for his political ambitions

Mahir Zeynalov
Mahir Zeynalov
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Turkey’s vote-garnering machine, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who also happens to be the country’s prime minister, continues to exploit the tragedy of 17-year-old Asma, who was killed when the Egyptian army stormed a sit-in protest by the Muslim Brotherhood last year, in a bid to increase his votes ahead of a presidential elections in August.

Erdogan has already proved that he is ready to resort to every dirty tactic for his political ambitions. Tragedy is how people buy his low level arguments – a sickness that will force Erdogan to make more and more mistakes. It will be Turkey that will lose in the end.

Erdogan’s media is a political propaganda machine that is involved in defaming his opponents in ways that are often shameful

Mahir Zeynalov

In Germany’s Cologne, thousands of people gathered to welcome Erdogan, who went on a political rampage, slamming his opponents, German media and the Western world. It was the kind of crowd that seemed conservative, but gave a long standing ovation to former Turkish EU minister, who made fun of Muslims’ holy book, the Quran. Political fanaticism recognizes no boundaries and even will force so-called conservative people to applaud a man who mocks the Quran.

Erdogan’s dirty tactics

Erdogan is a skilled politician in telling lies and making people believe in them. He is employing effective tactics in his political campaigning strategy. He is providing the bigger picture of events as part of his masterful deception tactics. Deciphering the bigger picture is what our brain does best and once our brains figure out the “bigger picture” it easily misses the details or “true facts.”

Our brain is designed in such a way that the things we see are usually the ones we expect. Erdogan’s ruthless media and his politicians usually create the perception among public about a certain agenda item before they bring it up. This tactic helps Erdogan sell arguments that are often false.

Another tactic is recalling past events, in which the government’s opponents might have committed obvious mistakes.

Another way of consolidating the electorate, has seen Erdogan constructing an enemy that is allegedly determined to destroy his supporters if he leaves. This kind of rhetoric revives fear among people who believe that the dark old days may come back and encourages them to see the current leader as someone that needs to be supported at all costs.

Erdogan’s media is a political propaganda machine that is involved in defaming his opponents in ways that are often shameful. When they repeat false arguments too many times, people start believing them.

Exploiting Egyptian blood

Erdogan, who has nothing good to offer to his own people, usually plays the role of a leader of the Muslim world and supporter of the oppressed Muslims all around the world. He usually picks up particular incidents that could easily reverberate across the Muslim world and increase his popularity. This week, for instance, he once again mentioned Asma, daughter of Mohammad al-Biltagy, one of the leaders of the Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. In almost every square in Turkey, Erdogan mentioned her name ahead of local elections earlier this year, exploiting her tragedy. He probably thinks that he can still sell her tragedy well and continues to use her name for political consumption.

Erdogan’s exploitation of Asma’s death is ironic as his government should be blamed in part for the bloodshed in Egypt. The Egyptian army’s repressive policies that ignored the basic right to assembly was pushed to edge after the Muslim Brotherhood abandoned the smarter strategy of dialogue and insisted on protests. The Muslim Brotherhood’s unceasing protests cost them their leaders, thousands of protesters and their activity – thanks to the advice of Ankara. We spent our breath until the end by condemning the Egyptian army and their authoritarian policies. It is now time to self-criticize and finally acknowledge that Erdogan is a prime suspect in escalating tensions in Egypt.

If Erdogan wants to extend his throne, he can deliver his promises such as drafting a new constitution or promoting a consolidated democracy in Turkey. Other dirty tactics will polarize society and will be short-lived as sooner or later, the public will see Erdogan’s true face. Also, he should leave Asma’s soul alone.


Mahir Zeynalov is a journalist with Turkish English-language daily Today's Zaman. He is also the managing editor of the Caucasus International magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @MahirZeynalov

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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