Column: A leader’s compatibility with his nation, a nation’s compatibility with its leader on July 15

Yasin AktayBY: Yasin Aktay*

News that this country, this nation was under the threat of an attack constituted the first addresses of this call and, these voices alone were sufficient for a significant number of people to take action.

The salats (call to prayer) that were recited from mosque minarets, which were calls that started to flow from the spiritual roots of this country and could not possibly be resisted, made it difficult for people to stay in their homes.

Then, the head of the country, the president’s call had millions of people join the resistance forces within minutes. That night, we saw in action, how the existence of a nation, the meaning of its integrity could be represented in the concrete being of the individual and, hence, how a leader could be efficacious beyond just talk.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s story, his life, from beginning to end, comes across in amazing entirety as the tale of a leader. Exceptional integrity and consistency is evident in his life story and, every chapter added to his story, every incident, contributes to the harmony of that integrity without ruining it.

He is leading a nation which becomes him well. He is also the kind of leader that becomes this nation. This harmony is of course the result of a complete agreement between the values that fulfill the meaning of leadership and the values that the nation is in search of.

A body called community consists of the competition of different interest groups, their clashes, conflicts and tensions among each other, and transforming them into a nation requires a common experience that will unite them all, under a cluster of values, and concrete leadership in which they will all find representation. The religious belief and traditions in Turkish society feed these cluster of values, however, it is clear that these values alone are not enough for a nation to truly merge and become one.

Social psychologists talk about how attacks targeting groups and that resistance against these attacks strengthen group solidarity by turning it into an identity, a sense of belonging. That is why, no matter how bad the attacks, it leads to solidarity and an identity, which the attackers fail to calculate. Concerns that this identity leads to a division and polarization in the community are baseless. These tensions are further augmenting the alliance the people rely on and fortifying a wider area of consensus each day. At least against the coup, against attempts aimed at invading the country through exploiting religion, greater awareness and a field of awareness was formed in the society – that did not consist solely of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) base.

Hence, we are able to talk about a return to the stage of history, once again, of a society that has become a nation on July 15 with its people, with maximum common values. That night, en masse, we witnessed the birth of a nation transformed from society.

That night, the nation, powered by all this motivation took action, and for 28 days following the incidents, through democracy watches, displayed that it will not be caught up in the – well deserved – pride and complacency of the history it wrote. The previous coups had people locked up in their homes. The will demonstrated against the July 15 coup, on the contrary, kept people outside their homes for 28 days and taught that vigilance is a disposition.

Participation in the events organized on the first anniversary of July 15 to commemorate the martyrs and in the name of remembering and making the world remember the treacherous coup and invasion attempt against Turkey, was, in a single expression, magnificent. The picture of unity and solidarity against the coup, displayed in the events which were simultaneously held in all squares across Turkey’s provinces, contrary to the discourse of some, demonstrated that there is no diminishing in the resistance and fight put up against the coup.

Of course there are some lagging aspects in the fight against the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETÖ). As a matter of fact, cases of the good and the bad getting confused also harm the sense of justice. However, this should not hinder the fight against FETÖ, whose enmity against Turkey is officially recognized, whose dangerous state, with its slyness and incredibly powerful organizational structure, is yet to be eliminated – it should not harm this fight.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who marched in what they called the “justice march” and tried to distort the meaning of justice by holding it against the judiciary that is fighting against FETÖ, constantly gloated with the pride of the crowd he gathered on this path. If the issue is the number of people alone, the massive crowds that gathered for the July 15 events all over Turkey and primarily in Ankara and Istanbul, have given the required response in the best and fastest way with their actions and discourse. These gatherings should be a meaningful warning to Kılıçdaroğlu to give up quarreling with the people on the fight against FETÖ, concerning which the people are seeking full consensus. Whether he likes it or not, the stance Kılıçdaroğlu is taking against this national consensus with bad rhetoric, is placing him in the same category as the FETÖ side. I am not even including the other fishy business.

The picture painted at the events marking the first anniversary of July 15 as a nation is sublime in all aspects. However, that the extreme solemnity, leadership, follow-up and activity presented by President Erdoğan in the formation of this picture in which he gives the secrets of being a true leader must be acknowledged.

Erdoğan, who clearly managed all the details of the events concerning the anniversary meticulously, joined the events that started in Ankara followed by the march and opening at Istanbul’s July 15 Martyrs Bridge and then returned to Ankara for the events in Parliament and the Presidential Complex the same day; this dizzying traffic that continued until 7:30 a.m. also shed light on his leadership character which leaves no room for coincidences.

May God bless him with a long and healthy life.

*Yasin Aktay is a member of the Turkish parliament and a leading figure of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey. (Published in Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper on July 17,  2017)