Sunday is a big and important day for Turkey. The president of the Republic of Turkey will be elected, and this time, for the first time, by the people. Although the polls give a more or less general idea, a notable silence reigns among the public. Will this election respond to their demands?
Turkey has suffered severe crises in the past due to disagreements between the president and prime minister. Heads of state under military supervision have always represented a deep, secret system far removed from the people. That is one of the main reasons for the current silence. This selection, once carried out in secret, is now in the hands of the people. For the first time, it will be open and transparent. That is why the public are being very circumspect and watching carefully to choose the right leader to govern them.
This is definitely a turning point for Turkey. But we need to remember this important point; whomever is elected, he will be a president who has not received the votes of 40% or 50% of the people. He must therefore win over those who did not vote for him and be able to be their president, too. The duties of the president in this strategic country, one that saw a good deal of polarization in 2013 in particular, are numerous.
Turkey’s new president must create a conciliatory community of love. He must use a language of unity that makes people forget protests and uprisings. He must not forget that the sole cause of revolt and tensions is a lack of love in society. He must always be aware that neither economic nor political maneuvers can have any impact without love.
The new president’s attribute of love must also prevail in foreign policy. This is a time when there is the greatest need for such a policy in the Middle East. He must behave in such a way as to reconcile, rather than in a partisan manner. He must reconcile countries in conflict, rather than inciting it. Turkey’s democracy, strategic position and Ottoman past means that it must be an older brother. Calling others to peace and reconciliation is above all a responsibility commanded by our lofty faith.
Turkey’s new president must be devout; he must embrace all faiths and even unbelievers with respect and protectiveness, and yet stand firm against fanaticism. He must represent a mindset that radical organizations can never approach. He must also pioneer the spread of that mindset in the Middle East and therefore strictly avoid any hint of repression, restrictions or division. He must be in the vanguard of democracy and liberties.
Women are the key point in the fight against fanaticism. If the women of a society are happy and well-off, that society will be a prosperous one of peace and civilization. The protection of women, importance being attached to their freedoms and their enjoying the right to speak on all matters are all symbols of the progress of that society. No society in which women enjoy a superior position can ever slide toward fanaticism.
Turkey’s new president must not forget its role of elder brother in the Middle East, and must never abandon its own role of protector of refugees and the weak. Refugees in particular are guests entrusted to us by Allah. It is essential that the new president continue to protect them with all his means.
One of Turkey’s main problems at the moment is that the language of politics has become a very negative one. The new president has a responsibility to transform the language of politics into one of reconciliation. Politics must cease being a language in which opponents freely insult one another. He must bring about a civilized system in which all politicians employ a language of love and compromise, rather than the conflict-based, unpleasant traditions of the Middle East from the past.
One of the main responsibilities of Turkey’s new president must be to act as a rampart against the supporters of the PKK, which is trying to split Turkey apart. He must scrupulously avoid any steps or words that might prepare the grounds for separation, and must exhibit a determined mentality that makes no concessions to the supporters of fragmentation.
Turkey is an important country with many responsibilities to the Middle East. Strength and stability in domestic policy has always spread to brother countries with expectations of Turkey.
It is essential for Turkey to remain strong and influential if the weak in Somalia, Myanmar, Syria and Gaza are to be protected. That strength and stability are only possible if religious devotion and spirituality, as well as secularism and democracy, are preserved in it. It must not be forgotten that it is fanaticism that wreaks the greatest harm on both religion and democracy; for that reason, Turkey must be a country that strictly avoids fanaticism, that is conciliatory in its foreign policy and that believes that solutions are possible through love, not politics. In order to undertake these responsibilities, it must first build love inside itself.
So it is imperative that Turkey’s new president be a man of love. He must be a leader who can resolve the problems of the Middle East, not with more bombs and guns as they are trying to do now, but through the one true path that has never been tried before — love. Certainly, building love is not easy; but there have to be people who strive to bring the love commanded by Allah about, or at least take steps in that direction. Turkey, a ray of hope for many innocent people, must be a pioneer to that end.