19th August 2013 – Just think of the Russian matryoshka, or nesting, dolls. They go from large to small, one nestled within another. The dolls began by portraying a mother in peasant dress and her children — the family members lined up in order all the way to the newborn.
Now try to adopt that imagination into thinking about a nation, while playing with the metaphors and substituting the older woman with people’s way of approaching their God — or not. Surely, not everyone comes from the same religion or has the same level of religiosity. But like the matryoshka dolls, they all live within the same society.
One likes to believe that once they’re left free, they will easily find a balance, accepting each other as they are and living harmoniously, acknowledging that even the most extreme religious beliefs in society have an impact on the opposite extreme, even, say, on atheists. All chains keep constantly interacting and influencing each other. Freedom is then dynamically embraced. Unfortunately, the world is not an ideal place. People choose to be defeated by their egos, and judge others who differ from them, trying to mold them according to their beliefs. Once the state — with all its power — gets involved in this business of shaping society, however, it becomes a challenge to talk about free will and individual choice. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was right all along that the state was wrong to ban females who wear head covers from attending public universities. But two wrongs don’t make a right. The presumption, for example, suggested by the Islamist, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is that their decisions for the people are correct, as opposed to the past government’s approach to freedom of religion. They claim that they are correcting all the past mistakes of the military coup era without judging people’s differing lifestyles or attempting to reorient them toward conservatism. Despite Erdogan’s view that his government has never intervened in people’s lifestyles, there is an example in the making as to how the AKP is aiming to adjust the codes of this society more toward Islamism.