Simten Coşar and Gülden Özcan write about the politics of dissent in Turkey under AKP rule.
"With the successes of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi or AKP) in three consecutive general elections in Turkey (getting 34% of the total votes in 2002, 47% in 2007 and almost 50% in the 2011 general election), Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emerged as a world figure. From the Middle East to Europe to Africa and even to North America, Erdogan's name has become known even beyond policy makers to ordinary people. His ‘mastership’ of the Prime Ministry has been remarkable for a Turkish leader: he made it to the cover of Time Magazine last month; he was applauded upon his arrival at Cairo Airport like a pop star; and he appears in the newspapers of the West almost every day.
Erdogan's interventions abroad have been widely, and most often favourably reviewed: first against the Israeli government over Gaza; then against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya; and now, more explicitly and rigorously, toward the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria. All these incidents are well-known to the general public in North America, and the mainstream media has been quite prominent in promoting the AKP's rule. Many of the right in the West have praised the AKP government as one of the strongest allies in the Middle East. But the AKP government has also come in for praise from the left for its support of the non-governmental organizations sending the Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza in 2010. But what has been going on in Turkey is quite unknown to the general public abroad. The AKP government's hostility toward ‘enemies within,’ by which it has branded all kinds of dissent, has been severe and growing. The AKP regime maybe acting as pro-democracy abroad, but it is increasingly authoritarian at home."