Mustafa Akyol Profile picture
May 13 5 tweets 1 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
People who support #Erdogan say he made Turkey wealthier, greater, and freer.

Which is true... For his first decade in power, when he had principled & competent people in his team.

Then he began replacing them with yes-men, while turning growingly authoritarian and irrational.
Why Erdogan changed that way?

Lord Acton has the answer: "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Ibn Khaldun also has the answer: Conquerors of a system soon turn into what they conquered.

So, Erdogan began imitating injustices of the past that he once condemned.
Also, in its first decade in power, Erdogan's AKP largely followed the liberal-democratic criteria outlined by the EU.

Then, with a newfound self-confidence, they reverted back to their ideological roots: Us-vs-them Islamism, absolutism in leadership, a conspiratorial worldview.
To be fair, Erdogan is not the only actor responsible for Turkey's downhill slide.

The Gülenists — the "Trotskyites" of this revolution, so to speak — with their secretive and conspiratorial tactics, turned an already paranoid nation even more obsessed with the "enemy within."
And Kemalists, with their oppressive secularism that crushed religious freedoms, helped build all this revengeful "return of Islam."

Turkey will find peace only when every camp admits its mistakes. And when they accept to be equals.

I hope it is time for that, but we will see.

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More from @AkyolinEnglish

Dec 5, 2022
Does Islam really require "religion police"?

From Iran to Saudis to the Taliban, the answer is yes, with two references: the Quranic duty of "commanding the right," the Prophetic institution of hisba.

I challenge this view in my new essay @newlinesmag:…
Here are some highlights:

The Quranic duty of "commanding the right and forbidding the wrong" is interestingly worded: the "good" is #maruf, which means "known." It may refer to ethico-legal values that are commonly known — and not necessarily all Sharia.…
No wonder, earliest exegetes of the Quran didn't understand "commanding the right" as enforcing all aspects of the Sharia. According to Abu al-Aliya and Muqatil ibn Sulayman, it was about "calling people from polytheism to Islam," not religious coercion.…
Read 9 tweets
Dec 4, 2022
I would say:

Of course, “democracy is good only insofar as it produces good outcomes.”

For there are higher values: freedom, justice, human rights, human flourishing. Any political system, at any time and milieu, is as good as it serves these timeless values.
Put simply, #democracy is about "who governs."

#Liberalism is about "how they govern." (Within rule of law, and without violating human rights.)

So, of course, I value liberalism over democracy. Without it, democracy can collapse into majoritarian tyranny, even fascism.
What is the problem I see in illiberal democracy, which @shadihamid is defending?

I think this recent conversation explains it well: In his view, there is no universal value such as religious freedom. So, it is "the right" of the French electorate to issue bans on Muslim women.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 12, 2021
What is the future of #Islam under the #Taliban?

My guess: #Afghanistan will catch up with #Iran in raising the greatest number of ex-Muslims — atheists, Christians, etc.

For, as I wrote before, dictating a faith is the best way to make people lose it:…
Surely, disenchantment with religion has complex reasons everywhere, but exposure to violence, oppression, or bigotry in the name of religion is a significant force in the Muslim world, recently in Turkey and some Arab countries, too, as I wrote here:…
Especially the #Turkey case, which I know well, is quite remarkable: Kemalists tried to secularize the nation for 80 years, with limited success. But a much greater secularization (including a trend of #deism) took place in the past 10 years — thanks to the Islamists in power.
Read 4 tweets
Aug 31, 2021
A venom that had brought division, hatred and savagery to Muslims from the very first century of Islam is #takfirism: To declare other Muslims with different opinions and beliefs as "kafir" (infidel), which typically follows with the imagined right to kill them.
That venom had a major revival in the past few decades.

ISIS practices it in real life, in the most extreme form, by killing any Muslim it can brand as "apostate."

Relatively milder takfiris are active on Twitter. They don't physically take arms; but they keep throwing takfir.
Just today, I saw Muslim academics such as @DrJavadTHashmi and @KhalilAndani being targets of takfir.

My take: All this zealotry presents itself as piety. Yet in fact, it is nothing but narcissism. It does not serve God. It only serves the hubris of the self-righteous takfiris.
Read 4 tweets
Apr 22, 2021
“We Muslims need a major renewal in religion by accepting the full meaning of the Qur’anic maxim, ‘There is no compulsion in religion.’

So no more religious policing, no threats to ‘apostates’ or ‘blasphemers’.”

Interview with me by Pakistan’s @GVS_News:…
I also said:

#Pakistan had the right approach to religion at its birth as the great Ali Jinnah put it:

“You are free. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship; that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
I also said:

“Some of the #Orientalist critiques of the Islamic world have been indeed prejudiced and crude, but the defensive reaction to this problem has turned into another mistake, as it avoids the healthy self-criticism we Muslims need today.”
Read 5 tweets
Apr 21, 2021
The fiery Pakistani Islamists seen in the photo below (via @nytimes) are misquoting the #Quran.

Verse 8:59 that they apparently sloganized to justify "killing blasphemers" - their big passion - has nothing to do with punishing blasphemy...…
The verse says, "Those who disbelieve think they will escape; they will not."

According to great the Sunni exegete Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, this may be a reference to a punishment by God in the afterlife - not by Muslims on earth.

And even the latter option isn't about blasphemy.
Because the context of the verse makes it clear that these specific "Those who disbelieve" were Meccan polytheists who attacked and persecuted Muslims in the first place.

No wonder 2 verses later, in 8:61, we read:

"if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also]."
Read 4 tweets

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