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article imageOp-Ed: Turkey — From bad to worse Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Jan 21, 2014 in World
Istanbul - Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan blames foreign forces for an attack against his government, but Erdogan is really responsible for ruining the Turkish economy.
Scandal can take down any politician. Add local protests, the world's disapproval, and economic harm to the scandal, and a politician would be lucky to survive. If a leader harms his own people, he can expect a change in the ruling party.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has defended top members of his Islamist AKP party, billionaire developers, bankers, and even his own son in the corruption scandal that rocked Turkey on December 17. He accused Muslim cleric Fettulah Gulen (now living in America) as the scandal's instigator. He accused foreign forces and even the U.S. Ambassador of somehow being involved. He fired hundreds of police officers across Turkey (including police chiefs), many lawyers and judges, and even journalists. He tried to rewrite Turkish laws concerning how police officers and judges handle investigations.
In reaction, thousands of Turks took to the streets in new protests, echoing those that began last spring because of the proposed development of Istanbul's Gezi Park. Now, however, the media is mostly blacked out about these protests, and even the Internet is being more strictly controlled by Erdogan. The Turkish lira took a dive from 1.7 to a dollar to over 2 to a dollar.
Recently, Erdogan further harmed his own country by imposing new visa laws. Instead of coming to Turkey and getting a tourist visa at a Turkish airport for just $25, you must apply online or at Turkish consulates or embassies, beginning April 10.
Erdogan's Ak Party Parliament has also changed laws regarding doctors treating Turkish citizens in Turkish emergency rooms. Whereas before the law stated that anyone in need must be treated, now doctors are required to contact the government for approval before treating someone in the ER. If a health worker disobeys this directive, he or she can be punished with heavy fines and even imprisonment. During the Gezi protests, for example, many protesters did not get the treatment they needed from their local health department and went to hospital Emergency Rooms. Now protesters (and others) cannot get the ER help that could save their lives. This law has been protested by the World Medical Association (and others) who sent a petition to Turkish President Abdullah Gül (of the Ak Party) to veto this law so that it doesn't go into effect. The letter stated:
"International standards in human rights and medical ethics make it clear that doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other health workers must be able to carry out their professional responsibilities to provide emergency medical care to those in need without interference or fear of reprisal. The Ministry of Health and the Turkish government have an obligation to support and protect health workers who are simply adhering to their moral, ethical, and professional responsibilities to provide care for the sick and injured."
Many tourists come to Turkey because it is a beautiful country with vastly different land and seascapes, rich history, and interesting architecture, food, and culture. However, all of that is not Muslim, although Erdogan would, like most dictators, rewrite history. He seeks to erase the older chronicles of Christian, Greek, Roman, and Mesopotamian heritages in favor of Islamic traditions. In fact, he has been turning ancient churches into mosques, just as the Ottoman sultans did when they conquered vast areas of Turkey, including the ancient cathedral of Haggia Sophia in Istanbul (which may become a mosque next). Turkey has over 80,000 mosques, most of them half empty, and over 3,000 mosques in Istanbul.
Even now, Erdogan is visiting Europe to try and explain his recent actions and start new dialogue toward entering the European Union. This seems a futile effort, since he faces so many problems with his own people. Turks want a better life, protection of their natural resources, and more personal freedoms.
"If upcoming elections don't vote out the Ak Party, life will continue to get worse in Turkey. The economy is being ruined by the very party that gave it new life. Rumors are that Erdogan has cancer. Maybe the cancer is making him go crazy; in any case, things must change," a Turkish man declared as he looked for a job in his native country.
Reporter's Update: On January 23, a fight broke out among Turkish Members of Parliament. Bulent Tezcan, Deputy Leaader of the CHP (the secular democratic party founded by Ataturk and the main opposition to the Islamist Ak Party), was taken to the hospital for injuries. The fight regarded new allegations that Prime Minister Erdogan's son Bilal may be involved in the corruption scandal. It also had to do with a bill that would give government control over the judiciary.
As the AFP (Agence France-Presse) reports, on the same day:
"more than 160 officers were removed from their posts in the western metropolis of Bursa, a day after a similar shakeup in the main cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. The Turkish media estimates that at least 2,500 police, including top officers, have been punished since the graft scandal erupted in mid-December. Dozens of prosecutors, including senior lawyers leading the investigations, have also been sacked or reassigned."
Ak Party Prime Minister Erdogan places his banner next to Ataturk at the Kocaeli Book Fair in 2012. ...
Ak Party Prime Minister Erdogan places his banner next to Ataturk at the Kocaeli Book Fair in 2012. This is the photo that almost got me arrested in Turkey.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan seeks to establish Islamic law in Turkey  as he sponsors projects lik...
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan seeks to establish Islamic law in Turkey, as he sponsors projects like this new, multi-million-dollar mosque in Istanbul that rises near exclusive residence towers
A backside view of Istanbul s Ayasofya (Haggia Sophia)  the 5th Century Christian cathedral which wa...
A backside view of Istanbul's Ayasofya (Haggia Sophia), the 5th Century Christian cathedral which was turned into a mosque in 1453 and is now a museum but may be a mosque again
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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