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Turkey's Ultra-Nationalists Playing With Fire

Turkey's ultra-nationalists are evoking the violence of the past when rallying against the government's peace process with the Kurdistan Workers Party, writes Semih Idiz.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli addresses his supporters during an election rally in Istanbul, May 29, 2011. Turkey will hold parliamentary elections on June 12. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY - Tags: ELECTIONS POLITICS) - RTR2N1VX

Turkey’s beleaguered ultra-nationalists, who are vehemently opposed to the peace process initiated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), have started baring their teeth once again with a promise of violence aimed at preventing what they consider to be “treachery against the Turkish nation.” 

Addressing a rally of supporters in Bursa on March 23, Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was met with chants of “Tell us to strike and we will strike! Tell us to die and we will die!”  While such bloodcurdling chants are not uncommon at Turkish ultra-nationalist rallies, it was Bahçeli’s response that caused the uproar in Turkey. “Don’t worry, the time will come for that, too,” Bahçeli bellowed back at the crowd, sending shivers down the spines of those who remember the bad old days before 1980.

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