DEMONIZING THE HIZMET MOVEMENT THROUGH MEDIA IN TURKEY

In Turkey in 2013, President Erdogan violently crushed the Gezi Park protests, while propagating an “underdog” narrative for himself and his supporters through pro-government media. He claimed the protests were orchestrated by the “international interest lobby” in collaboration with “their domestic partners” (one allegedly being the Koç Group) to topple the Justice and Development Party (‘AKP’) government. This tale was repeated in the pro-government media until it became the defining narrative for much of the Turkish electorate: protesters were “vile”, “traitors”, “enemies of the state” and Erdogan and his government therefore were justified in crushing them.

In December 2013, when a corruption probe which implicated several government ministers and Erdoğan’s son went public, Erdogan and pro-government media used a similar strategy to derail investigations. While framing events as planned and executed by a “coalition of foreign powers” through their “domestic pawns”, the AKP government moved swiftly to purge thousands of police officers, civil servants, prosecutors and judges without trial or disciplinary procedure, a self-confessed “witch-hunt”, on the pretext of Hizmet affiliation. This time, instead of the Koç family, the Gulen-inspired Hizmet movement became the useful scapegoat to justify draconian and arbitrary measures. Erdogan claimed that Turkey was, once again, fighting its “second war of independence” against a “blood-sucking virus” and “vampire” that had nested itself within the state apparatus and which could only be “cleansed” by being “vaporized” and “separated into its molecules.”

In short, as per Erdogan’s style of politics, a new phantom enemy in the form of Hizmet is being instrumentalized to achieve two outcomes. The first to derail the investigations into ministerial corruption and silence media coverage of it; the second to rid the state of anyone not completely loyal to President Erdogan and to rid the public sphere of dissent or credible alternative viewpoints to those of his own including the Gezi park protestors, the opposition parties, workers unions, the Hizmet movement and of course Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, the first two of which were even banned in Turkey before the Presidential elections of 2013.

This booklet has a very modest objection. To provide a glimpse into the consistent coordinated and concerted dehumanization and demonization project against Erdogan’s latest so-called enemy of the state, the Hizmet movement.  Beyond this introduction no comment will be provided whatsoever. Instead, you will only be presented with direct translations of what Erdogan, his deputies and the pro-government media have said. As the reader, we only ask that you take the moment to peruse the contents and arrive at your own conclusions.

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