Today's Zaman

We have become accustomed to the shameless defense mechanism of being
"Kemalist and loving the republic," used in the face of any charge
against the elitist-secularists of Turkey.

Sinan Aygun, an alleged member of the Ergenekon terrorist organization,
was asked why he had been detained and he replied thus: "Because
I am a Kemalist [he used the term "Ataturkcu"] and because I love
the republic."

What does this mean?

This means Aygun is instrumentalizing Kemalism and the republic. He is
using them as a shield for whatever crime he may have committed or is
unjustly charged with. This is already a crime under the current legal
framework in Turkey. Ataturk, the republic and its founding principles
are preserved constitutionally in Turkey and their denigration is
a crime. Using Ataturk as an excuse for sins committed or as an
explanation for attacks by others is simply an act of denigration.

Aygun may indeed be innocent of the charges he will face, but he was
caught red-handed while instrumentalizing the higher values of the
Turkish Republic.

The irony is in the detail. While Aygun was using Ataturk as a shield,
Rıfat Hisarcıklıoglu of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity
Exchanges (TOBB) and the usual suspects of the opposition parties used
him (and others accused of having links to the infamous Ergenekon)
as a sword. One usurps Ataturk to defend himself, the other to attack.

Being arrested is bad... Especially if you are guilty! One usually
does not want others to know one is in custody; that is, the moral
value of detention is negative.

Instrumentalism does not only stand for "turning a particular
person, event or thing into an instrument and use, utilize or usurp
it." Instrumentalism is an imposed Machiavellian redefinition of the
moral value of a concept based on its utility. A particular event may
be disastrous for the general public, but if it proves utilizable by
a certain group, it becomes morally desirable by their understanding.

I remember the Burdur earthquake of 2002. The prime minister of the
time visited the area a day after the destructive event, but was
booed by his opponents. The earthquake was instrumentalized and its
moral value was made positive!

I remember the funerals of the Turkish soldiers martyred on the
frontlines of the fight against terrorists. They were utilized by the
secularists as a stage on which to show off. I wouldn't dare to say
they felt happy whenever they heard of a new martyrdom, but I have
heard this observation from several people. They had seen the tragic
"jeer-fullness" in the faces of those who, otherwise, should have been
"fear-full" of another funeral.

Now, the detention of 23 people by the Ä°stanbul public prosecutor
is not something to be happy with. Deniz Baykal, the leader of the
opposition, is angry. He claims the judiciary is politicized and has
been usurped by the government. Is he not doing the same by using a
legal case for his own means?

Instrumentalization brings about several side
effects. It may lead to a reverse-demonization of the thing
instrumentalized. Over-instrumentalization leads to deification and
dogmatization. Instrumentalization through laws produces insurmountable

Once ultranationalists used Christian missionaries and their
activities in order to attack Muslims engaged in interfaith dialogue;
the missionaries were demonized and in the Malatya incident they
were even slaughtered. If the so-called secular elitists continue
to use secularism as their shield and sword, its fate, God forbid,
won't be any different.

Armenians over-instrumentalizing the tragic events of 1915 are turning
them into dogma. The moral value of dogma is never as appealing as
the moral value of tragedy.

Certain Kemalists over-instrumentalizing Ataturk are deifying him. The
moral value of a manmade god is never as worthy of respect as a
founder of a republic.

The Constitution itself is instrumentalizing secularism through laws
and is turning it into a stumbling block. Secularism secured through
a legal framework is not as indispensable as secularism that secures
the legal framework of the country.