Source: The New York Times
By Mustafa Akyol, a contributing opinion writer, is a visiting fellow at the Freedom Project at Wellesley College.
Over the past 15 years, my country, Turkey, has gone through a colossal political revolution. The traditional secular elite that identifies with the nation’s modernist founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, has been replaced by religious conservatives who, until recently, were largely powerless and marginalized. The religious conservatives have by now come to dominate virtually all institutions of the state, as well as the media and even much of the business sector. In short, they have become the new ruling elite.
This political revolution has had an inadvertent outcome. It has tested the ostensible virtues of these religious conservatives — and they have failed. They have failed this test so terribly that it raises the question of whether religiosity and morality really go hand in hand, as so many religious people like to claim.
The religious conservatives have morally failed because they ended up doing everything that they once condemned as unjust and cruel. For decades, they criticized the secular elite for nepotism and corruption, for weaponizing the judiciary and for using the news media to demonize and intimidate their opponents. Yet after their initial years in power, they began repeating all of the same behavior they used to condemn, often even more blatantly than their predecessors.