– The plotters behind the July 15 attempted coup are “no different” to Hitler’s Nazis, award-winning Turkish novelist Elif Shafak told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
Speaking about last month’s scheme by rogue military members to oust Turkey’s government, Shafak, who divides her time between Istanbul and London, said she would compare the bombing of the Turkish parliament by pro-coup pilots to the Luftwaffe’s attacks on Westminster to convey the trauma experienced by Turks.
“Those who organized and carried out the coup attempt are no different from the Nazis,” she said, adding that those who resorted to “violence and trickery” had no “social legitimacy” in the civilized world.
Shafak, who has written 13 books, including novels in both Turkish and English, referred to the “horrible and dark” night that saw around 240 people killed and nearly 2,200 injured as tanks took to the streets of Istanbul and Ankara and F-16 jets roared overhead.
“They attempted to overthrow the elected government and president by weapons and tanks,” she told Anadolu Agency in an interview conducted over the Internet. “None of this is acceptable or excusable.”
She identified three groups who combined to defeat the coup — the people who heeded President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call to take to the streets to resist; the media that rallied against the coup, particularly the media outlets usually critical of the government; and lawmakers from across the political spectrum who mounted an all-night “democracy watch” at parliament despite being bombed.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen has been widely blamed for arranging the coup attempt and Shafak said it was obvious that Gulen’s movement had two sides.
“Schools, culture and education was their visible and positive face,” she said, referring to the worldwide network of educational establishments the group runs. “Unfortunately, it seems that there was also a dark side to them.”
– FETO’s ‘dark side’
Shafak said FETO’s “dark side” had already been witnessed during the Sledgehammer and Ergenekon trials, which saw hundreds of military officers jailed between 2008 and 2012 on the basis of fabricated evidence of coup plots.
The convictions have since been quashed and the prosecutions blamed on Gulen’s supporters in the criminal justice system who were trying to purge the military of their rival officers to clear the path for Gulenists to be promoted.
“But it was on the night of July 15 that it showed its ugly face in the most horrifying manner,” Shafak said.
She added: “Those who try to form a gang within the state and want to dominate the army and police could never have a place in a state of law.”
The author, 44, warned that such threats must be fought “until the end”.
She also cautioned, in an apparent reference to the arrests or dismissals over alleged links to the FETO-led coup bid, against labeling and persecuting academics, journalists, artists and innocent people “out of a personal feud”.
Commenting on the attitude to the coup and its aftermath in Europe and the U.S., Shafak said she did not believe the foreign media fully understood the danger facing Turkey. “We can criticize and should be able to criticize governments,” she said. “But nobody has the right to overthrow an elected government through illegal means.”
“I am not a supporter of AK Party […] But of course I recognize the legitimacy of the AK Party because it was elected by the people.
“However, as much as I respect the elected government, I also criticize its actions which I consider undemocratic. These two should not be confused.”