A rough political row is simmering in Turkey. The sparring sides, however, are not two political parties as it would have been in a normal democracy. Because Turkey remains an abnormal democracy — one of the sides is a political party, while the other a religious community. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has locked horns with the Hizmet Movement — or “the Community” as it is widely called in Turkey — of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen. A fierce propaganda war is under way, especially on social networks. The government’s plan to close down private tutoring halls, the spark that ignited the current row, is just a smoke screen. The real struggle is about who will rule the state.
Let’s briefly review the chronology of the conflict.