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Navigating the Tumult of Freedom and Authority in Turkey

Lawyer Feyza Altun, who was detained and then released in Turkey under judicial control the next day for posting a message saying “Damn the Sharia” on platform X, spoke to Fatih Altaylı: “While they were doing their job, I asked for a five-minute break. I poured myself a glass of raki and started crying.”

When the severity of the incident became clear, Feyza Altun corrected herself: “I just said I was drinking raki at home when the police came. I did not drink any alcohol the moment my detention started.”

I say severity because 15 police officers and a prosecutor came to her house for a search. There is a “suspect” who will be detained and taken to the courthouse. No law enforcement in any country in the world would allow a person to drink. You cannot be sure what a person about to be handcuffed has consumed. All their movements must be controlled.

The fact that the arriving team trusts the suspect enough to allow drinking is not sufficient. Ultimately, it is not the ‘suspect’ but those who permit this who are responsible. Feyza Altun made this clear in her statement: “I did not drink any alcohol the moment my detention started. As you can appreciate, such a thing is not even possible. I wanted to correct the matter because it would put the officers in a difficult situation.”

Aside from the legal scandal, the confidence explosion after the detention process is not applicable to all judicial victims, unfortunately.

This is the scenario presented by the raki dimension.

The only thing a person being detained might be allowed to ask for should be a glass of water.

I won’t even get into changing clothes and putting on makeup for the courthouse. What happened shows not just a double standard but the point to which the country’s judiciary and law enforcement have drifted.

In a country being dragged into a ‘dystopia’ similar to those in novels, the surge of anger makes people do things they wouldn’t otherwise. Polarization removes empathy, making it free to “damn” one thing while criminalizing “damning” another.

I am referring to Şevki Yılmaz’s simultaneous outburst, “I curse the bastards who drove the Ottomans out!”

One is seen as an act of defending the constitutional republic, the other as an insult to the founder of the republic, and “freedom of speech” is twisted accordingly. Every neighborhood tries to lock up the other. The prisoners inside are ignored for years.

Meanwhile, the indifference towards the reaction of CHP’s Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan, who responded to Şevki Yılmaz’s “Curse the dönmehs of Thessaloniki, Oh Lord!” with “God damn you, I wish you were descendants of the Greeks!”, shows the level of polarization.

Then sitting down and saying, “There’s a difference between being against something and cursing,” is unnecessary, that’s not the point.

‘Dystopia’ might be the best word to describe what’s happening. There’s no single word or sentence that can encapsulate it. Based on the movies, series, documentaries, and readings I’ve encountered, I can describe it as follows:

A dystopia is a future scenario considered bad and backward according to current societal and governance norms. The architects of the brain look at “historical repetitions” to construct the future. In a dystopia, not everything is wrong; it includes the suppression of current problems through force (police/judiciary). A dystopia is built with lessons learned from the present.

Just as a utopia is a non-existent place, a dystopia is its antithesis. If a utopia is a dream, a dystopia is a nightmare. People’s fears come true, and the “conditions for this” already exist in the present, with an impending disaster sprouting from there. In a dystopia, there is an oppressive regime as much as it is considered normal and the society is obedient. Information and thought are restricted, people are under constant surveillance, and propaganda tools determine the agenda.

The first work that comes to mind in this context is George Orwell’s ‘1984’, published in 1949. Today, there are ‘dystopian’ signs in almost every country in the world.

In Turkey, a ‘dystopian’ society and governance are yet to be named. Attribute the anger to this, do not join the chorus.

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