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Paranoid Nationalism Changes Hands in Turkey

If Turkey's present crisis deepens, the Justice and Development Party may become even more paranoid, angry and authoritarian.
A supporter wears a mask showing Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan during a rally of ruling AK party in Istanbul June 16, 2013. Tens of thousands of Erdogan's supporters massed at a rally in Istanbul on Sunday, as riot police fired tear gas to break up pockets of anti-government protesters in the city center several kilometers away. REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY  - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)   - RTX10PV2

One of the reasons for which I have supported the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the past decade was its challenge to Turkey's deep-seated xenophobic nationalism. From the impasse in Cyprus to the rights of minorities such as Kurds, Armenians and other non-Muslims, the AKP dismissed chauvinistic bigotries and took boldly reformist steps. It also accelerated the European Union accession process and integrated Turkey deeper into the global economy.

For these same reasons, the AKP has been condemned repeatedly by secular nationalists as an "American puppet" or "capitalist compradore." A best-selling anti-AKP book of 2007 even argued, seriously, that Erdogan was a "crypto Jew" working with the Elders of Zion to undermine Turkey's "full independence."

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