In Erdogan’s Turkey, the references to George Orwell are becoming more numerous
During the height of the protests, participants knew a crackdown could follow. But the reality still seems far-fetched
by Hannah Lucinda Smith / August 3, 2017
It has become normal for George Orwell to creep into political conversations in Turkey: the parallels are too numerous to resist.
A year on from a failed coup attempt, more than 150,000 people have been arrested, fired, or driven into self-imposed exile. The group President Erdogan accuses of orchestrating the revolt are the shadowy followers of an Islamic preacher called Fethullah Gulen. Turks are told that they act as if they are secular—drinking alcohol and wearing revealing clothes—to cover their real pious identities. Consequently, anyone could find the finger of blame pointed at them. Being in possession of a one-dollar bill bearing a certain serial number has been enough to land some people in prison; for others, it was wearing a t-shirt printed with the word ‘Hero’ (both are claimed to be secret signs that Gulen’s followers use to communicate between themselves). Book dumping became common as the crackdown hit—no-one wants to be caught with one of Gulen’s tomes on their shelf.
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