'Enemies of the State 101' for foreigners in Turkey

From Turkish journalists working for foreign media to women who suggest that motherhood is not the highest honour bestowed upon them, there are many types of public enemies in Turkey. Here is a crash course on just who those shady characters are.

Dear young diplomat, welcome to Turkey. You will love our beautiful country, with its lively political life, polarized elites, identity politics, trolls that will watch over you on social media and acid-tongued politicians. Who knows, if you are lucky, you will catch the eye of our president. While you appreciate our strong economy, health and education systems, not to mention our free press, please watch out for the enemies of the state. Duvar English graciously provides you with a beginner’s list of enemies of the state in Turkey.

1.Those who have lost their Turkish roots: The opposite of “national and domestic,” the members of this group are Turks who are “not happy with the happiness of the people of Turkey,”  “the enemies of the flag and the call to prayer” or “those alienated from their own roots.”

Though these words are often used by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself, similar versions are echoed by his government members and offshoots in the press. The group includes politicians, opinion leaders, or private citizens in Turkey who have studied abroad, speak at least one foreign language, make references to the European Union’s Copenhagen criteria and praise Western culture, values, and political systems. 

Award-winning writers or academics of Turkish origin who are based abroad and fail to trumpet Turkey’s policies to their Western counterparts figure high on this list; as well as journalists of Turkish origin who work for foreign media and whose actions should be closely monitored, reported, and “exposed” - as a report by the pro-government think tank didtwo years ago. 

Admittedly, referring to Western-educated elites as sell-outs or puppets of the West is neither unique to Turkey nor to the present era of Turkish politics. Still, it has been perfected in the last two decades in a mix of populism, nationalism, and plain old inferiority complex vis-à-vis “the posh kids who used to look down on us and got all the girls just because their daddies were rich.”

Dead giveaway: References to Voltaire or the Magna Carta, an ability to tell the difference between the EU’s Maastricht Treaty and Nice Treaty or a reference to the Christian past of any of the recently-switched mosques.

Not to be confused with… Gülenists (see #4), who are, of course, public enemies but at least have no qualms against knocking down the bad, bad West.

2. Those who have blocked Turkey’s progress for decades: While the first group can be anyone, this group refers to the political elites - the so-called Establishment - that has ruled the country before 2002. Often mentioned after the president announces some sort of highly-publicized “international success,” the group is accused of being too cowardly and subservient to the “dark external circles” (See #3) that have wanted to keep Turkey from becoming a major power.

Telltale signReference to international accords undertaken by Turkey or claims that Turkey was the perfect secular democracy before 2002

Not to be confused with...Neoliberals, as some members of this group hate globalism as much as the present powers-that-are does - they just hide it better.

3. Those who are envious of Turkish success: Any foreign politician or opinion leader who suggests that Turkey’s economy is not among the top ten in the world, questions the strength of the Turkish lira or the government policy on anything at all. These Turkey-bashers simply do it for domestic purposes, so that their public does not realize the strength of the Turkish model and demand the same from their leaders. 

Turkey’s president, who has been referring to those jealous folks regularly since 2016, sometimes tries to set them right through friendly reminders: “Do the people of Greece and France know the price they would have to pay for the policies of their inadequate leaders?” 

Poster boy: French President Emmanuel Macron, possibly due to his jealousy that Trump holds Erdoğan in higher esteem than himself.

Not to be confused with…Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whose huge ego would not allow him to be jealous of anybody.

4. Gülenist: Don’t speak about them - except to say that anyone who supports Fethullah Gülen, the self-exiled cleric in the United States, are terrorists seeking to destroy the country and that Gülen is an evil puppet of dark forces that want to see Turkey disintegrated.

Please say: “I am sure that Washington will be reasonable and extradite Gülen soon.”

Please do not say: “So have you ever been to Pennsylvania [where Gülen lives]?”

Rule of thumb: “Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” (1984 - George Orwell)

5. Prostitutes: Independent-minded women, particularly if they are political/opinion leaders, married to one or both. They may be single, married, conservative, liberal, young or old - but they do get the scarlet letter if they have (a) displayed a lack of patience towards an abusive husband/partner/male relative (b) wanted to choose their own husband rather than marry an elderly relative or neighbour chosen by her family (c) suggested that motherhood need not be the greatest and the only achievement of a woman (d) swore, laughed out loud and used the word “vagina” in public (e) expressed a political or social opinion (f) spoken (g) smoked.

Tell-tale sign: A banner that advocates gay rights or the Istanbul Convention or the Fight Against Child Marriage on social media profile,

Not to be confused with... Sorostitutes (or, as the Turkish version goes, Sons of Soros- a derogatory reference to those who have worked in projects with Hungarian-American business magnate George Soros) which is a reference to Those Who Have Lost Their Turkish Roots or to Neoliberals.

6. Neoliberals who advocate a degenerate lifestyle: A wide spectrum that may range from those who do not prevent their children from watching Netflix and its gay-loving series to someone who suggests that there is too much tax on alcohol. Gays, lesbians, transsexuals, transgender people, non-binaries, teachers who ask children to paint a rainbow, people who remained single after 30 and single parents are definitely in this group of public enemies who try to sabotage the nation by dynamiting the foundations of the family. Surprisingly, the list does not extend to those who are married to underage girls, advocate hemp as a cure-all.

Notable exception: Bülent Ersoy, the transgender self-styled geisha who has a series of young fiancées and is welcomed as a guest to presidential evenings

7. Non-Turks unable to appreciate Turkey fully: Those who have been here but do not take second helpings of food offered, do not fully appreciate the Turkish hospitality or the natural rights of neighbours to ask all sorts of intimate questions, reject chance acquaintances’ offers of matchmaking, cannot quite understand why a TV talk show host, Müge Anli, is more important to Turkish justice than the chief of security.

Deadly giveaway: “Why is Pride Parade banned?” “How come several papers have exactly the same headline?” I had plenty, thank you.”

Not to be confused with… 7bis

7bis. Non-Turks who love Turkey too much: Those who have settled here, dates or married to a Turk, learned the language too well, travelled more than more Turks in the country, and even criticize the country just like a Turk- at a rakı table. Who the hell is that person - a spy?

September 10, 2021 Turkey's small festivals