Erdogan’s Islambul

Turkish Prime Minister became a motif for ‘Capuling-Caricatures’…

During the last few years, the PM and the ruling AKP have often been accused of enforcing a ‘creeping Islamization’ or even ‘Iranization’ of Turkey. Although in the beginning of their reign the party rather conveyed a secular image of its policy objectives, within the last years it has increasingly become clear that Erdoğan is planning a huge Muslim Disney Land.

Big hotel complexes are being built at the expense of the century-old historical architecture in Istanbul. Alcohol was banned after 10 p.m., instead people shall drink an Ayran according to the Turkish Prime Minister, and compliance with freedom of speech is obviously not at all open to debate.

However, people are obviously tired of living Erdoğan’s restricted play of society. What began as a huge economic success almost all across the country, has turned into a much discussed, inappropriate land and urban planning. The AKP-governance seems to have lost track of their liberalization-plans, but steered onto the course of fascisms and lobbyism by profit-driven industries and the vision of a self-made Islambul in memory of the great Erdoğan.

Thus the planned reconstruction of the Gezi Park and the AKM, was just the tip of the iceberg. Social distrust and calls for democracy have become loud. And while the Prime Minister acts like a dictatorial gladiator, the demonstrating crowd resists: not in the name of parties, authorities or political claims, but solely by spreading its blatant humor.

Demands of Gezi Park Protestors

During a press conference with 12 journalists and public representatives, among them five representatives of the Gezi-movement, they made five demands on behalf of the demonstrating people, which are:

1 – Gas bombs are chemical weapons! Gas bombs must be banned!

2 – All sick and wrongly arrested prisoners must be released! And those who resisted should not be prosecuted!

3 – Taksim belongs to the people! All the people forbidden places should be opened!

4 – Stop the gentrification!

5 – The governors and police officers, who gave the orders to attack the people must be held accountable!

Except for these very reasonable demands, the whole movement is based on its humor and as a consequence, its solidarity from all walks of life. Hundreds of  illustrations and artworks function as the main weapon in the resistance against the ruling party and Erdoğan’s undemocratic measures. By spreading their messages via social media, the Capulcus accomplished to be heard and supported all across the country.


Dynamic of the Ilustrations

Besides the by now well-known typical symbols of the movement (standing man, lady in red, penguin, gas festival), Erdoğan has become one of the most popular motives being poked fun at. Ironically, the Premier Minister functions as a perfect inspiration for artists and creative minds, since he acts not only slightly imperious and boastful, but seems to have lost any touch with reality since the beginning of the peaceful protests.

Not only the excessive use of chemical weapons against the people by “his” (he himself said so) police, but also Erdoğan’s rejections to negotiate with such “looters” (Capulcus) and his unwillingness to listen to anybody but himself, seem absolutely despotic: The perfect target for cartoonists, illustrators, photographers and journalists.


Technically, it seems absurd, that a democratically voted party could seriously block the Internet excess. As soon as we remember that the AKP has banned YouTube between March 2007 and October 2010, that all media is subject to excessive censorship and that right now hundreds of inventive illustrations are being spread, that Erdoğan might probably not appreciate, it does not seem too trivial. When authorities investigated on who to hold responsible for such artworks, Facebook and Twitter luckily refused cooperation. So hopefully the demonstrators and supporters keep giving virtual reality checks, in order to prevent Erdoğan’s constructions of an Istanbul a la Dubai.


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