And the Riddle Remains Unsolved! The Trap Of Generalization And Alignment
16 July 2016
By Tariq Alhomayed
In the course of what later came to be known as the Arab Spring I wrote that
Tunsia, Libya, Egypt and Syria each represents a case unique to itself, many
were enraged by the statement. Recently they have come to know the validity of
However, we fall again into the trap of generalization and alignment with the
latest Turkey coup attempt.
Turkey's administration now stages clear cut 'vengeance'. It was at a heated
and rage-filled moment that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that the
abortive coup was an almighty's gift, an opportunity to filter through the
good and bad of the national army.
The purge taking place means that the government structure will be shaken.
Over 60,000 detentions have been issued against military, judiciary, education
institutions—the course of events suggests that media will be next, only to be
followed by politicians.
In light of the purge, controversy arose among media analysts and cultural
figures –among which cited are Islamist activists – some supporting the Ankara
vengeance, others considering that the coup's failure itself represents
victory enough for democracy and secularism in Turkey.
Here lies the question: Those being surgically suspended in Turkey are
affiliated to the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen –Islamists in other terms-
based on official and presidential statements. Future replacements
are other Islamists who belong to the Erdogan-supported Justice and
Development Party (AKP), so what has changed?
What future awaits Turkey? A large number, not to be taken lightly, of
Turkey's population are not political Islamists.
And is it acceptable for any government, once elected, to carry out changes
affecting the social composition of the country to its own preferences or
after every other incident?
Or could it be interpreted as a quest for solidarity and conformism which
adopts a comprehensive and collective method benefiting the government as a
whole, contributing to its progress and development within the frames of
The Muslim Brotherhood won over Egypt's ruling power and wanted to implement
change and suspension at day two, disregarding the social contract and the
components of society; knowing this where do we stand today? What defines a
state after all?
It is enough to reflect upon the Iraqi Army's experience, and the vindictive
dissolution of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party in an unconstitutional manner.
The same argument can be made on cases of secularism winning the upper-hand
post an abortive coup, among those who glorify Turkey's secularism and those
who attack it, the question remains: what definition of secularism is being
Is the secularism being defended in Turkey of a nationalist or a liberal
nature? Regardless interchangeable, the two may seem at time, chief difference
exist among the two. The nationalist secular system in Turkey is not like the
secular liberalism ruling Europe.
Which form of secularism is being put up to trial, and under what terms is
'victory' being cited, given that Turkey now targets the same army which long
protected its secularism? The question is directed to those siding by secular
If an Islamist is on the second side of the argument, then the proper question
is: if secularism is the forced route for Erdogan to later achieve his
Islamist vision for governance, then why blame Fethullah Gulen should he later
prove to be the true orchestrator to the failed coup, they both are converging
towards Islamist rule?
And what is to be made of Tunisia's Rached Ghannouchi, whose party announced
the forsaking political Islam?
The lack of serious research, free education away from partisanship,
interests, add to that the ambiguity covering the very concept of statehood to
the unruly parties spread across the region leads to the conclusion that
regional suits must not be painted with a broad brush, it is not all black and
white, but for many reasons its shades of grey.
Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr.
Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current
affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous
positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the
first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a
bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah.
He is based in London.