Recently, two of the progressive culturally contrasting Muslim States of Bangladesh and Turkey have seen counter revolutions in a sense to bring back the secular voice in the political discourse. Shahbhag and now Teksim Square have become metaphors for the non religious actors to act up for their rightful space. Every country has a fundamentalist fringe, but the fundamentalist elements have a tendency to hijack the political conversation with the coercive use of force on the streets such as the Jamaat in Dhaka. Liberals tend to be softer with a lesser inclination for street battles. They like to fight with arguments rather than take to arms.
The conservative block has two allegations to drag down the liberal and secular voice. Firstly, they are influenced by the west and not grounded enough in native values and secondly they are corrupting moral systems by importing an alien ethos. The Justice and Development Party or AKP of Prime Minister Erdogan has been a success in the battlefield of electoral politics winning polls with a wide mandate. As a boy who grew up in a poor family in the shanties of Istanbul, his genre of politics is grounded in mild Political Islam. His Wife wears the Head Scarf, in a country which is essentially secular. The Army, is the vanguard of defending the Ataturkian vision of a modern secular Turkey has been crippled and the Judiciary has been weakened too. The secular minded youth in Turkey has been marginalized. Restrictions have been imposed against so-called immoral activities and Turkey’s overtures to be a regional behemoth with interventions in Gaza and Syria is not being appreciated by a large section of the Turkish Population, which considers it to be more European than Middle Eastern.
The Teksim Square protests originated with Government plans to convert a protest park such as Hong Lim in Singapore in to a mall. AKP has been on the economic development front aggressive and has been known for supercharged infrastructure projects even at the cost of demolishing heritage in old Istanbul. The ideological cocktail of Faith and Economic Growth has gone heady. Anybody against the ideology of the AKP is being systematically marginalized. The protests at Teksim Square have been coordinated through Social Media and comparisons with Tahrir or Shabhag are all but obvious. Erdogan has called Twitter ‘evil’. It seems another Middle Eastern Leader has failed to recognize the power of 140 characters. This is the beginning of another chapter in the Post Arab Spring Era.