Is Turkey the next Iran?


Journalists in Iran are sounding the alarm over a government-drafted media regulation bill that is expected to be sent to the parliament for approval soon, after a two-year delay. The government has said that the bill, which will call for the creation of a media oversight organization, is aimed at supporting media rights and freedoms and regulating the media, RFE/RL’s Golnaz Esfandiari reports:

But some critics say its approval would mean an end to any form of independent journalism in the Islamic republic. They say that, instead of ensuring more rights for the media, it would satisfy the demands of the country’s security organs and the hard-line conservative judiciary for a tighter state control.

On August 24, 2016, twelve death row prisoners were reportedly taken to solitary confinement from various wards of Rajai Shahr Prison to be executed, notes the Boroumand Foundation, a grante of the National Endowment for Democracy. Among them is Alireza Madadpur (right), a young man who was at the wrong place at the wrong time and had the bad luck of being tried by Judge Farajollahi at Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court of Karaj. RTWT

The Turkish secular elite who have long feared an Iranian-style theocracy in their own country may finally be seeing the worst of their fears come true, notes Alireza Nader, a senior international policy analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. The widespread purges under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) following last month’s failed coup attempt against his government suggest the Turkish state is moving toward authoritarian Islamist rule of the sort that Iran introduced in 1979, he writes:

There are many differences, but also striking similarities, between the current state of affairs in Turkey and the 1979 revolution in Iran that established the Islamic Republic. Iran’s pre-revolutionary political scene, like Turkey’s today, was relatively dynamic and made up of competing parties and factions from across the political spectrum, from Marxist groups to secular nationalist parties. True, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi reigned supreme, but millions of Iranians who marched in the streets against him were animated by a variety of interests and ideologies.

The theocracy that replaced him managed to crush all that stood in its way. Although Iran’s revolution was not entirely Islamist in nature, it was effectively captured by Islamist forces under the direction of a strong, self-assured, and charismatic leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Turkey faces the same precipice today with Erdogan emerging as Turkey’s divinely sanctioned “leader.”

“Turkey and Iran may differ, but the most striking similarity cannot be missed,” Nader adds. “Millions of Turks and Iranians once saw their nations as escaping the confines of military and monarchic rule, only to see themselves in the clutches of authoritarian religious regimes. Iran’s tragedy began in 1979; Turkey has now started its own perilous journey.” RTWT

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