The xenophobic feelings towards minorities, vulnerable groups, opposition figures and foreigners in today’s Turkey are being charged by country’s authoritarian leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who spews hate speech effectively every day, giving rise to discrimination and stigmatization of millions of people in Turkey and around the world.
Erdoğan keeps churning hate in a systematic and deliberate manner when targeting his opponents, setting an example for his followers to amplify on the hurtful narrative. In many cases, already disenfranchised ethnic and social groups in Turkey are being hammered down by thugs who emulate Erdoğan’s pattern of vile remarks.
Kurds, Alevis, the members of the Gülen movement, Christians, Jews, foreigners and many others, declared as pariah and enemy by Erdoğan one time or another, have received their share of bitter verbal attacks by Erdoğan and his associates. The government controlled media perpetuated this hate further with fake and fabricated stories, amplified and transmitted to a larger audience.
The most worrisome aspect of this campaign is that it has resulted in real consequences by rise in hate crimes such as vigilante attacks in the case of tourists when Erdoğan targeted foreign countries. What is more, it led to the justification of torture and abuse of victims by government officials in detentions and prisons because they were declared as pariah by the nation’s number one official at the top.
“Erdoğan represents the single most effective perpetrator of hate speech in today’s Turkey and he acts with complete impunity,” said Abdullah Bozkurt, the President of Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF).
“With the rule of law no longer exists in the country, Erdoğan’s debilitating and ugly slurs marginalizing millions get a free pass,” he added.
SCF has reviewed Erdoğan’s public speeches delivered in the last three years to uncover a pattern and identify insults, hateful narrative that targeted the Gülen movement as a case study. This peaceful civic movement has received the brunt of firebrand Erdoğan’s hurtful utterance of words such as “terrorists”, “traitors”, “vampires”, “leeches”, “tumor”, and “virus” etc..
Having developed a unique vocabulary of 240 hateful slurs and insults that singled out Gülen movement, Erdoğan eventually declared the participants of the movement “have no right to life.”
When compared with other targeted groups or countries by Erdoğan, astonishingly similar words have been used. The unrelenting attacks against the Holy Sea, especially the Pope, the Netherlands and Germany during the referendum campaign in March and April resemble very much to the narrative Erdoğan employed against the Gülen movement.
By doing so, Erdoğan and his cronies not only violate Turkish laws but also infringe upon Turkey’s commitments under the international conventions. SCF calls upon Turkey to tackle with hate and prejudice that no longer fester in darkness but mushrooms in an open public space freely and without any hindrance. This may rupture the social fabric of Turkey and eventually destroy Turkish society, spilling over to other countries that host large Muslim and Turkish communities.
It is time for Turkey’s international partners and allies to confront the thuggish behavior of Turkish president and tell him that his behavior will no longer be condoned and tolerated.
May 22, 2017