Belief in Democracy 8/8

Views of people from Turkey and Holland on statements made by Newsweek journalist Fareed Zakaria, Turkish president Abdullah Gül and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Dutch VPRO documentary ‘Turkije – Het Dilemma van de Democratie’: ‘Turkey – the dilemma of democracy’ that was broadcast on 8th of October. Daily at Sargasso from October 5th until October 12th, at 13.00h (Amsterdam time, 14.00h Istanbul time). This blogging project is part of the Dutch democracy week WijZijnDeBaas (WeAreTheBoss): the Dutch contribution to the International Week for Democracy. More information here.

if you end up with a situation where people forget that there are other, large minorities in the country, that feel differently than you and you try to impose your will on them, then, yes, you have De Toqueville’s problem of the tyranny of the majority and that tyranny is as bad for a minority as it were a dictatorship

Fareed Zakaria,
Newsweek journalist

==========================================================

Emre Kizilkaya | The Istanbulian
turkish journalist, Hürriyet newspaper, blogger.

“Democracy does not have the right to destroy itself. It is not only about elections, but it is also about protecting the minorities and especially human rights. We should not forget that Adolf Hitler was a by-product of a democracy. Tyranny of the majority is as dangerous as a dictatorship, but most of the people generally tend to believe that Saddam Hussein was far more dangerous than George W. Bush or Vladimir Putin is”.

==========================================================

Metin | Talk Turkey
blogger, Metin didn’t directly comment on the statements but contributed several related posts on his blog, this one is on ‘Save Islam from the Muslims’.

“I am a civil and individual libertarian, and fight to protect the rights of even a 1% minority (as is the case of the definition of a ‘Republic’). So long as that 1% does not ‘fundamentalize’ their philosophy over the others or vice versa.
You see, in a ‘democracy. the 51% majority has the right to rule over the 49% minority. But a ‘republic’ is where the 1% still has a voice.
But some well-intentioned ‘democracy lovers for all’ (even some secularists) are people that most want democracy to flourish UNTIL they (the promoters of democracy) become the 49%. And the democracy results in the outcome they do not prefer at the least, and at worst they detest (i.e. Hamas, AKP, Iran, etc.)”.

==========================================================

Erkan Saka | Erkan’s field diary
blogger, thesis on Turkish journalism and the European Union, Ph.D candidate Anthropology at Rice University and instructor at the Public Relations Department of Istanbul Bilgi University.

“But democracy is not the rule of majority per se. It is a common sensical belief that democracy means the dominance of majority but in fact, democracy is the protection of rights of both the majority and minorities. One of the ideas behind democracy is the idea of citizenship and this idea, in theory, includes all those without any discrimination. However, the social conditions we live in necessitate representative democracy in which elections and all tend to give majorities a notion of hegemony. Hence comes the possibility of tyranny of the majority. This could only be prevented with even stronger culture of democracy which by default aims to protect the rights of all citizens without any discrimination… “.

==========================================================

Haluk Direskeneli | Energy Newsletter Turkey
blogger, energy expert.

“That is impossible. There are more democratic forces, legal establishments, universities, individuals other than the people elected for the parliament. One individual with ample experience on legal and constitutional issues can make difference all together”.

==========================================================

Beatrice Vanni | Arabisto and Turkey & My Foreign Perspectives
blogger, lives in Turkey, and helps people gain visibility for their work and attract more clients through high-quality writing, editing and project development.

“When there are masses in a country not heard or dismissed as not important, this creates problems. In Turkey, there are some of these issues still raw within the masses, and they have yet to be addressed in open forums with the country’s leaders. There must be interest in sharing the fruits of Turkey’s democracy and creating a country which is free and equal for all citizens and residents”.

==========================================================

Michael van der Galiën | The Gazette
blogger, frequent visitor of Turkey with interest in the politics and culture of the country, published columns in the Turkish Daily News and is correspondent in the Netherlands for Pajamas Media.

“100% agreed. One of the major problems of full democracy is that it leads to the rule of the mob, the tyranny of the masses. This tyranny is even worse than a dictatorship, because the masses will believe that they have the right to do what they do and there’s no stopping them”.

==========================================================

Hans A.H.C. de Wit | Internations Musings: Istanbul, Florence, Athens, Yerevan and Dubai | blogger, international communication manager, lives in Turkey, cross cultural specialist.

“As long as the rights of minorities are respected, there will be never a tyranny of the majority. Only when Islam steps into politics, like Malaysia, where a Muslim population of 65% dominate social life”.

==========================================================

More views on this statement in Dutch at VPRO Tegenlicht

  1. 1

    In democracies, the rights of the minority do not apply to those who reject democracy itself, or reject the rights of others. In the Netherlands, for instance, the Salafist minority is not protected by minority rights. On the contrary, they are subject to persecution by the security service AIVD, because they reject the fundamental democratic values of the Netherlands.

    But if rights can simply be withdrawn by the security service, what is the point of rights? If the rights of the minority only exist when they adopt the values and culture of the majority, then do they have any rights at all?

    Two examples. A populist party in Rotterdam proposed the sterilisation of black teenagers – to prevent them having illegitimate children, which they sometimes can not care for. Now of course there is a human right protecting bodily integrity, and an international treaty against discrimination. The proposal is also specifically outlawed by the Anti-Genocide Convention. But the populists simply don’t think these provisions apply, because they are “protecting children”.

    Some imams in the Netherlands argued that violence homosexuals was justified, for instance that they should be thrown from the roof of buildings. The general reaction of the political parties, and the media, was that they should not be allowed to say this. The populist Geert Wilders advocates the prohibition of the Koran because of such incitement. Of course freedom of religion is protected in the Netherlands, but Wilders and his supporters simply say it infringes the rights of others.

    Rights, even human rights, are not absolute. Do Muslims have rights? Ayaan Hirsi Ali says there must be war against Islam, and that Muslims must be crushed, if necessary. This is from her interview in Reason magazine..

    Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?

    Hirsi Ali: No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace.

    Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

    Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

    Reason: Militarily?

    Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

    In a war, the enemy can not have ‘the right not to be defeated’. The Muslim minority in Europe can not, logically, have the right to be Muslim, during a war against Islam. That would prevent them from being crushed by the majority.

    So this argument about democracy meaning ‘rights for minorities’ is simply not factual. No democracy can give absolute rights to minorities, because rights themselves are not absolute. If they do not apply to Muslims, or blacks, then why are they universal, and how can they be absolute? And if they are not absolute, then how can rights logically override the outcome of the democratic process, in a democracy?

  2. 3

    @Paul:

    The AIVD cannot persecute the Salafists. Hell, they can’t even prosecute the Salafists becaus they simply don’t have the juristiction to prosecute. Your argument therefore is moot.

  3. 7

    The AIVD, the single civilian security and intelligence service of the Netherlands, regards the Salafists as an internal enemy, and attempts to prevent their activities, and in co-operation with other agencies, to harass individiual Salafists. The AIVD regards them as an enemy because they oppose the liberal-democratic system and its basic principles, which is an accurate assessment of their views.

    The position of the AIVD, and the ministers of Justice and Home Affairs, is simple: you may not be a Salafist in the Netherlands. If you have Salafist beleifs, then you have done something wrong in their eyes, and the state is entitled to harm you, even if you have not broken the law. There is a wide range of measures used to harass minority beliefs in the Netherlands, under the general name of ‘anti-radicalisation’.

    And of course the AIVD would say, “we don’t persecute people, we are just protecting the country against terrorism”. George W. Bush would say that too. The point is that so-called minority rights are discarded as soon as they get in the way of core policies (such as ‘social integration’), or during perceieved threats to the society. In the Netherlands, it is primarily Muslims who are treated as an internal enemy, but others are too.

  4. 8

    Paul:

    What about Turks’ treatment?

    Are the (Muslim) Turks treated worse because they are Muslim? Or Are the (Turkish) Muslims treated worse because they are Turks?

    Or does it even matter?

  5. 9

    Dear Colleagues

    Please be advised that Every country has its own unique democracy

    none of them is a perfect example for the other

    none of them is the best nor the perfect

    you have your own democracy

    we have our own democracy

    each country creates her own type democracy

    you critise your own- we do for our own

    yours is not perfect-

    you do not leave in a paradise

    we certainly accept that ours is not perfect

    anyhow if you do not like ours

    please do not come to our country for summer holiday

    please do stay in your own belowed country

    please do not plan to spend any time in our country during your retirement years

    please do not presume that the lower caste foreign workers in your country are the same people here

    we have our own culture with almost 3000 years

    with intellectual capability of our own

    need no lecture to receive from our EU conterparts

    we do not need to join EU

    since EU is not a paradise environment

    thank you & best regards

  6. 10

    Dear Colleagues

    Please be advised that Every country has its own unique democracy

    none of them is a perfect example for the other

    none of them is the best nor the perfect

    you have your own democracy

    we have our own democracy

    each country creates her own type democracy

    you critise your own- we do for our own

    yours is not perfect-

    you do not leave in a paradise

    we certainly accept that ours is not perfect

    anyhow if you do not like ours

    please do not come to our country for summer holiday

    please do stay in your own belowed country

    please do not plan to spend any time in our country during your retirement years

    please do not presume that the lower caste foreign workers in your country are the same people here

    we have our own culture with almost 3000 years

    with intellectual capability of our own

    need no lecture to receive from our EU counterparts

    we do not need to join EU

    since EU is not a paradise environment

    thank you & best regards

  7. 11

    Dear Colleagues

    Please be advised that Every country has its own unique democracy

    none of them is a perfect example for the other

    none of them is the best nor the perfect

    you have your own democracy

    we have our own democracy

    each country creates her own type democracy

    you critise your own- we do for our own

    yours is not perfect-

    you do not leave in a paradise

    we certainly accept that ours is not perfect

    anyhow if you do not like ours

    please do not come to our country for summer holiday

    please do stay in your own belowed country

    please do not plan to spend any time in our country during your retirement years

    please do not presume that the lower caste foreign workers in your country are the same people here

    we have our own culture with almost 3000 years

    with intellectual capability of our own

    need no lecture to receive from our EU counterparts

    we do not need to join EU

    since EU is not a paradise environment

    thank you & best regards

  8. 13

    The EU will be chasing after Turkey in a few years. But I wonder if the EU will outlive its obsolescence.

    Turkey is better off aligning with Israel (and the USA).

  9. 14

    Dear Colleagues

    Please do note that

    Iraqi casualities are reaching a round number of 1 million dead and 2 million refugees as created by the mighty empire forces of the present day environment

    whereby the same empire questions the minor casualities in Asia minor of a century before

    I really ask myself what a rhetoric, or if it is a joke or something??

    It is also a positive/ interesting side of Dutch intellectuals questioning democracy in Turkey, whereby here in Turkey we do not bother to open a web site to question the “democracy in the netherlands”?

    is it obvious that democracy in the Netherlands cannot be questioned and the democracy here in Turkey deserve all types of mutiliation/ questioning???

    It is really important question need to receive explanation of our Dutch blogger counterparts

    and we shall be too pleased to receive

    Thank you & best regards

  10. 15

    Altavista web translation for our non-English writers of this blog who insist to send their responses in their own language to my English comments

    Beste Collega’s Gelieve te nemen nota van dat Iraakse casualities bereiken een rond aantal 1 miljoen dode en 2 miljoen vluchtelingen zoals die door de machtige imperiumkrachten wordt gecreeerd van het hedendaagse milieu waardoor het zelfde imperium minder belangrijke casualities in Klein-Azië van een voordien eeuw vraagt Ik me werkelijk vraag wat een retoriek, of als het een grap of iets?? is Het is ook een positieve/interessante kant van Nederlandse intellectuelen die democratie in Turkije vragen, waardoor hier in Turkije dat wij hinderen om geen website te openen om de “democratie in Nederland” te vragen? is duidelijk het dat de democratie in Nederland niet kan worden gevraagd en de democratie hier in Turkije verdient allerlei mutiliation/het vragen van Het is werkelijk belangrijke vraagbehoefte om verklaring van onze Nederlandse bloggertegenhangers te ontvangen en wij zullen te pleased zijn te ontvangen

    Dank u & vriendelijke groeten

  11. 16

    Beste Collega’s,

    Dit is Altavista Webvertaling voor onze niet Engelse schrijvers van dit blog die aandringen om hun reacties te verzenden in hun eigen taal op mijn Engelse commentaren, Gelieve worden geadviseerd dat Elk land zijn eigen unieke democratie heeft geen van hen is een perfect voorbeeld voor andere geen van hen is het beste noch perfect u hebt uw eigen democratie wij hebben onze eigen democratie elk land creëert haar eigen typedemocratie u critise uw – wij doen voor ons van u bent niet perfect – u gaat niet in een paradijs weg wij aanvaarden zeker dat van ons niet perfect is hoe dan ook als u van geen van ons houdt gelieve te komen niet aan ons land voor de zomervakantie gelieve te blijven in uw belowed land gelieve van plan te zijn niet om op om het even welk ogenblik in ons land tijdens uw pensioneringsjaren te besteden gelieve te veronderstellen niet dat de lagere kaste buitenlandse arbeiders in uw land hier de zelfde mensen zijn wij hebben onze eigen cultuur met bijna 3000 jaar, met vele beschavingen bovenop elkaar met intellectueel vermogen van ons vereis geen lezing van onze tegenhangers van de EU te ontvangen wij te hoeven om van de geen EU lid te worden aangezien de EU geen paradijsmilieu is dank u & vriendelijke groeten

  12. 17

    @Haluk Direskeneli. You seem to be defending yourself and Turkey against a stream of offending, harsh, unjust criticism of Turkey. I am really sorry that you are experiencing the discussion in this way.
    In the Netherlands we have just finished the Week of Democracy, “We are the Boss”, very much a media event. Participation from the public was minimal. And in that same week some embarrassing “democratical” actions from the government turned out to be fake tricks. Some bloggers here were truely disappointed when they saw that fine words were followed by some foul actions. But we will have to go on, and try to improve matters. That is – I hope – a remarkable extension in the blogging world, compared to every day’s muttering, stuttering and being angry.

    best

  13. 18

    Metin asked if the (Muslim) Turks are treated worse because they are Muslim, or are Muslims treated worse because they are Turks. When Turkish and Moroccan immigrants first came to the Netherlands, they were simply called ‘foreigners’. They were put in the same category as Yugoslavians. The hostility against all these groups was nationalist and xenophobic in nature.

    However, in the last 10-15 years, attitudes have changed dramatically. The Turkish and Moroccan minorities are seen, above all, as Muslims. They are seen as part of a hostile, inferior, and irreconcilably different civilisation.

    Under such circumstances, the protection of minorities in a democracy breaks down. Fareed Zakaria quoted the well-known criticism of democracy, that it can be a tyranny of the majority. Typically, pro-democracy activists respond that democracy includes protection of the minority. But we see that in the Netherlands, which is a democratic country, these protections have disappeared for certain minorities, mainly radical Islamists.

    Protection of minorities in a democracy relies on a sense of national and social unity. The majority is unlikely to persecute the minority, if they share the same religion, culture, language, and values. But now in western Europe, we have a minority which shares none of these things, and is not even part of the same ethnic group. The argument that democracy includes protection of the minority has no weight under these circumstances, there is indeed a real threat that the democratic majority will persecute or expel the minority, – regardless of what it says in the constitution, or in the human rights treaties.

  14. 19

    Paul,

    You seem to be making the same point I am about the facts of democracy. In a ‘real’ democracy, a simple majority can rule over the minority period. The minority just has to love with it. But the hypocritical double standard-ness comes of age when the minority becomes the majority, and gets ‘democratically selected’ (i.e. Hamas, etc.)

    My argument is that in a true Republic, the rights of even the 1% need to be defended (so long as it doesn’t impact the safety of the 99% of course). This doesn’t make one a Liberal, but a Libertarian.

    Obviously, the neo-cons here in the US, as well as in Europe, under the guise of fear of terror and terrorism (to which Islam is directly linked) the civil liberties of individuals (not just the Turks – but of the Dutch, the Americans, etc.) are being eroded.

    Maybe it’s time to realize what is happening (to us) . . . while we are too busy concentrating on ‘foreigners’ or ‘Islam.’