Politcs Turkey

A Message from Turkey, a Nation under pressure

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According to the NYT,  In the first of a series, our correspondent takes us behind the scenes of todays Turkey, a nation in crisis facing a crackdown on rights.

Before I left to begin reporting for The New York Times in Turkey — a nation strained by war, terrorist insurgencies, a refugee crisis and a widening crackdown on dissent — Turkish diplomats in Washington sent me on my way with a velvet box.

I WAS NOT SURE WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN I OPENED IT

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened it. Inside, I found a small gray stone with a card that described it as “a symbol of Turkey’s devotion to democracy.”

That stone was a chunk of the Turkish Parliament building — blasted free by a bomb dropped by coup plotters in the army last summer. Since then, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has lashed out, purging tens of thousands of perceived opponents and coup plotters, firing or suspending about 130,000 government employees, and arresting more than 45,000 soldiers, police officers, teachers, politicians and journalists.

Given all that, I wondered if the rock was also a subtle warning to avoid straying from the government’s narrative of defending democracy. But that’s not possible in a country with so many competing agendas. This article is the first in a series in which I’ll try to show the difficult choices individuals here have to make as they get caught in the middle.

For them, this is no abstract debate. They live in a place where everyday choices and even central points of identity — secular or pious, Turk or Kurd, citizen or refugee — can at times identify individuals as either loyal to President Erdogan’s agenda, or as part of the mistrusted opposition.

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