As crowds chant calls for the execution of those involved in the failed coup in Turkey, there are fears that this once-secular country is decisively turning the corner towards full scale Islamisation. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using the attempted military takeover to justify a purge of state officials and army officers who do not give him total obedience, opening the door for him to establish an all-powerful presidency while seemingly Islamising Turkish society to a degree not seen since the fall of the Ottomans.
The purge continued at full throttle on Monday with the sacking of 8,000 police and 30 governors as well as 52 high ranking civil servants. This is in addition to 70 admirals and generals along with 3,000 soldiers and 2,700 members of the judiciary fired or detained since the coup failed on Saturday.
As pro-coup forces were rounded up over the weekend, there were parades of religious zealots in the streets chanting “Allahu Akbar” as giant speakers in Taksim Square in central Istanbul blasted out verses from the Koran. Appeals from Turkey’s 85,000 mosques played a significant role in mobilising popular protests in the hours after the coup began. In Gezi Park in Istanbul, the centre of secularist and liberal protests against Mr Erdogan’s authoritarian rule three years ago, was now filled with crowds loyal to the President.
The increasingly Islamist mood is already influencing social mores in Istanbul. Selin Derya, 26, who works for a business head hunting company, says that since pro-Erdogan crowds flooded into city centre in the aftermath of the coup “I am frightened of going out wearing a dress that some bigot might think is too close fitting or does not like the fact that my skirt ends above the knee.” Another secular woman in Istanbul explained that she does not want to enter the city centre at the moment because she fears harassment by religious extremists.