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Navigating Moral and Legal Dilemmas: The Ethics of Loan Repayment Amidst Government Oppression

“I am considering taking a loan from a state bank with the intention of not paying it back, as a person who has been labeled a terrorist by the government, imprisoned, had my business taken away, and had my assets and compensations seized. If I can, I will then leave the country and never return. If I do this, will I be held accountable before God?”

“The state that inflicts this tyranny on its citizens and drives them to such thoughts, can it really be called a ‘state’ in the name of God!”

This was my initial reaction when I read the above question. There are different reactions: “Of course, he should take the loan and not pay it back. Who cares about the loan in the face of the oppression he’s suffered?” Or, “No, these two things must not be conflated. Oppression is one thing, the struggle against oppression is another, and engaging in an action that harms the state or more aptly the nation with the intention of not repaying is a separate issue that must be considered.”

Which one is correct, then? In this realm dominated by interpretative approaches, we certainly cannot speak of a single, absolute truth. Everyone can think differently, reach different conclusions, and somehow rationalize those conclusions in their own way.

Since the question is asked to me, let me try to present my opinion in points.

1- Being subjected to tyranny by the state and taking out a loan from state banks with the intention of not paying it back and then severing ties with one’s country are two separate issues and should not be conflated.

2- A person’s suffering from tyranny is a decision made by the political authorities in power. The ways to combat this tyranny are also defined within a framework set by the constitution and laws. Any struggle within these bounds is legitimate. Attempts to seek justice outside these limits are undoubtedly deemed illegitimate.

Here you might rightly object and say: “Are you living in space? Those who commit this tyranny are doing so despite the constitution and laws. They use any illegal means necessary to protect their power and interests. Because they are in power, including violating the constitution, there’s nothing anyone can do. From bribery to nepotism, the state of the country is well-known. We even have to bribe to buy justice. What are you talking about?”

In seeking justice, one must not commit injustice! Yes, I am aware of these issues, I experience them, and I fully agree with the objections raised. However, being subjected to tyranny does not permit opening the door to another injustice, because state banks belong to the public.

From the fetus in the womb to the baby in the cradle, to the elderly in their dying breaths, every individual of Turkey’s population has a right to those funds. I do not think it is right to engage in an action that infringes on the rights and laws of 85 million people based on the erroneous decisions made by those in power.

State continuity is essential. Governments come and go. One day the distinction between the state and the government will be evident in our country as it is elsewhere in the world. Or we might return to the days of Süleyman Demirel who, as they say, “left six times and came back seven.”

Therefore, although it may take time, although those who suffer these tyrannies may not live long enough to see their rights restored and may pass on their quest for justice to their heirs, who also may not see those rights fulfilled, the pursuit of justice must be based on law, not on personal retribution. Seeking justice through avenues that disrupt the legal order, social harmony, and public security of a country leads to chaos and anarchy. This cannot be endorsed.

No matter what we endure; we must be reformative “You might say, ‘But the country is already in this situation!’” Regardless, as individuals who believe in and respect the law, we should not support this process. Instead, wherever we live, we must strive to reform the system, ensure social harmony, and uphold the rule of law.

This should also be considered within the legal pursuit processes of the state and international agreements. The state has a long reach. My late father used to say, “Son, the state is like an eagle when collecting its dues and like a rabbit when it has to pay.” That’s how it is; the state apparatus flies like an eagle in pursuit of its dues and captures its debtor with its talons, while it runs away like a rabbit or a greyhound to avoid paying its creditors. Isn’t that right?

3- As for taking out a loan from state banks; as long as no deceit is involved against the law and there is an intention to repay, I personally see no problem with taking out a loan.

Interest, you might ask?

In a country where official annual inflation rates are in the 70s and unofficial rates are around 120%, the interest rates below this do not even cover the loss in the value of money. Interest that merely compensates for the depreciation in the value of money should not be called interest. That extra should not deceive anyone by being called interest.

4- What if we take the money we intend not to repay from private banks instead? It doesn’t change anything. In either case, the right of individuals is affected. In the former, it affects all citizens of the country; in the latter, it impacts the owners, shareholders, and depositors who suffer due to these bad loans.

As you can see, although the number of affected people may be fewer, from the perspective of individual rights, nothing changes. The size of the right does not matter. A right is a right. In the hereafter, if there is no reconciliation in this world, there will be a supreme court under His justice where the hornless sheep will claim its right from the horned sheep.

5- “We have been living through these difficulties for years. You’re just reciting poetry from the outside. Come and live these hardships yourself. Experience the need for basic sustenance, the inability to find work, being ostracized by friends, and being treated as less than human by the people you claim are violating our rights, those who say ‘their property is spoils, their women and girls are our concubines.’ Come and live this, and see what you think then.”

Yes, you may object in this way. I cannot force anyone to think and live as I do. You may find the analysis I have made and the conclusions I have reached to be not realistic. You can call it a subjective evaluation. You might have expected a more objective view and conclusion through empathy, but this is how I think.

Anyone can engage their reason, logic, judgment, and conscience to arrive at different conclusions that satisfy themselves. I can say that the conclusion I have reached is an objective and ideal outcome achieved through a focused perspective.

My wish is that all oppressions on earth end as soon as possible, and that the 8 billion people on the planet live in a cradle of brotherhood, possessing their fundamental rights and freedoms. God willing.

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Dr. Ahmet Kurucan is a an author and scholar focusing on Islamic Studies and Law.

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