A renowned columnist for the Guardian and Le Monde Diplomatique dismantles myths of Turkey’s modern history in her review of the book The New Turkey and Its Discontents by S. Waldman and E. Caliskan, who wrote about the latest social, political and economic transformations in Turkish.

According to the e-flux website, she read the book while being in exile in Zagreb, where she fled to avoid prosecution and imprisonment in her home country.

Ece Temelkuran notes that The New Turkey and Its Discontents explores the authoritarian tilt of the country, even as it says too little about resistance to Erdoğan’s consolidation of power.

Below is an extract from her review:

“But The New Turkey is an important and in some ways corrective addition to the conversation about the country’s recent history. It refuses to reproduce two extremely common political myths that have helped the AKP legitimize its rule in both the national and international arenas. The first is the idea that in the years before the AKP took power, the Turkish army had been enforcing the state’s secularism while much of the Muslim Turkish population yearned for pluralism and religious freedom, which they got at last with Erdoğan.

The second myth the book helpfully demolishes is that the AKP was dedicated to participatory democracy in its first term, yet magically transformed into a brutal, dictatorial political machine during its second. The authors show that Erdoğan in fact gradually dismantled state institutions from the start, concealing his intentions through strategic alliances with so-called liberal democrats until he did not need them anymore.

What the book leaves out is when and how the abracadabra was performed. Turning the pages, I remember the series of paralyzing incidents Turkey has witnessed in recent years, not least the Ergenekon trials, in which hundreds of secular citizens were imprisoned based on manufactured evidence.”

Ece Temelkuran is the author of 12 books. One of her books was about hunger strikes of Turkish political prisoners. She was awarded the Human Rights Association of Turkey's Ayşe Zarakolu Freedom of Thought Award in 2008.

She was fired from Habertürk for an article, in which she criticised the reaction of Erdoğan’s government to the December 2011 Uludere massacre, and other articles critical of the Turkish authorities. Ece was twice named Turkey's "most read political columnist". Her columns are published in such media as the Guardian and Le Mode Diplomatique.

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