Turkey’s Minister of the Interior İdris Naim Şahin speaks on Arts, Culture and NGOs

Turkey’s Minister of the Interior İdris Naim Şahin speaks on Arts, Culture and NGOs*

*Translated from “İç İşleri Bakanı’ndan Yeni Terör Tarifleri” [Minister Minister of Interior Affairs gives new definitions for terrorism], published on 26 December 2012. 

“. . . There’s a system against theirs. That’s our system. They don’t have rules. In the legal system, there are rules, there’s an order, there’s justice—one can separate the good from the bad and the guilty from the innocent. Here, there’s even a struggle, in a humanitarian way, with those who are deceived, intimidated, abducted and placed within the terrorist organization. On the one hand, there’s lawlessness. On the other hand, there’s a struggle that’s carried out within the framework of law. Yet the terrorist organization doesn’t only operate in mountains, countryside, cities or on the streets where it organizes malicious ambushes. There’s more to armed terrorism. There are other ways. There’s psychological and scientific terrorism. There’s a backyard that feeds terrorism. In other words, that’s terrorist propaganda.

. . . How do they support terrorism? Perhaps through painting; they depict it on a canvas. Through poetry; they reflect it in words. They write about it in daily (newspaper) columns and articles. But they don’t stop there. They try to demoralize the military and the police who fight against terrorism by making them the subject of their art. They struggle and agonize those who fight against terrorism. Terrorism sneaks from behind and grows in the backyard. This backyard is Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Vienna, Germany, London, and so forth. It can be a department in a university, can be an association, can be an NGO. 

The more NGOs we have, the more democratic we become. This is what our times require. But terrorism can infiltrate NGOs—they can and they already have. This might be a cultural or educational association that might look innocent. In my opinion, the fight with those in the mountains or countryside is easy, but in the backyard, it’s harder to weed them out—they all look green, all mixed up. But some are poisonous, others benevolent. You can understand what is good and what is bad, only when you eat them.

At first, we have a hard time in distinguishing what’s in the backyard. They benefit from this ambiguity and say “I am also parsley, I’m also beneficial, I do good things, I’m saying something, don’t meddle with me--I’m also in this garden”. They take full advantage of democracy’s blessings. And somehow, like couch grass, they spread everywhere. On the one side, there’s an illegal, terrorist structure. On the other, there’s you, who struggle against this, using legal means. And it will continue like this—we have no complaints. But terrorism has unarmed forces as well. It is these forces that support the armed terrorism. That is to say, they are auxiliary forces. They pretend to sing songs, but every other two songs or so, they throw a remark in there. Take whatever you want, understand however you want. It is an artistic performance on the stage. What are you going to do? We are not against art, but we have to weed these out with the precision of a surgeon. We all have to know this. There’s terrorism, there is fight against terrorism, and there’s also a structure that fights the one who fights. We’re aware of this psychological war.

There is so much resentment against the state—in their so-called contracts, an organization that cannot become a state. In other words, they hate the Turkish state. We understand that, but they have such State-hostility that they can’t even use the State in the organizations they try to put together. So what then, what is the state, what does it do? The state is order. The state is law. The state is hierarchy. The state is property. The state is honor. The state is freedom, education, and health. The state is life itself. Therefore, in a non-state organization, whoever has the power at that moment has the state. Whoever is sovereign, it’s his state. This is a group of people who want to devour one another. Man is a wolf to his fellow man. The man who devours, the man whose teeth are stronger, he is the state. And the sympathizers that follow him. I don’t know what they would do if they live that ‘reality’ for one day, or an hour, or even ten minutes. But there’s no way back. This is no joke. Because the statements of those who have escaped them reveal it all. I’ve have said this before and now the repentants say it as well. It’s a setting where they eat pork, practice zoroastrianism, I don’t know from what nation or brotherhood, they practice—I am sorry—homosexuality, and do all sorts of disgraceful stuff, immorality, and heinous acts. If you enter, there is no way out. Enter is fear, exit is death. That’s the structure. 

. . . [In these ‘contracts’,] there’s an article on associations, another on political parties—they’re all part of this structure. If they’re not, you should speak up and explain yourself—first, in the National Assembly. You should say: “Someone claimed this is what we are. What do we have anything to do with it?” They should rip it up if they’re brave and free, but they’re not. They think my Kurdish brothers are slaves. They say “they’ve automatically become members, the political structure is unified and includes the parliamentary group.” Then you talk about freedom. What freedom? You’re not free yourself. If you’re free, deny it. Do it if you’re sincere. They talk about peace, brotherhood, the language of peace, and freedom. What freedom? Is there a place that’s more free, where freedom finds expression, than the podium in the parliament? This place is untouchable. That’s where you are.

In this country, for no citizen is there a further platform. There’s no further parliament. We have a structure that tolerates it and calls this ‘freedom.’ Thank God we have it and we’re an example to the rest of the world. If you have an idea, you should speak up—no one would bother you. If the majority of the society follows what you say, then your rules and your politics would be sovereign. You scream out ‘freedom’ and ‘peace’ but you have trouble if there’s no one who follows what you say. You say “I am here” and “I must be here”. You function in a democracy and yet pursue something antidemocratic.

Listen to those in the backyard and the representatives of this political structure. If we take the opposite of what they say, we would understand it easily. We should take the opposite of everything they say. This is how I figured out what their intentions are, what their world is. If they say ‘good’, they mean ‘bad’, and vice versa. If they say ‘peace’, it means ‘war’. If they say ‘democracy’, they mean ‘oppression’. If they say ‘human’, there’s a trap for humans there. If they say ‘love’, there’s hatred and revenge. It’s always the opposite of what they say. When you reverse it, you could see what they really mean.”