Social decay in Turkey and ‘The Masque of the Red Death’

Luxury hotels have offered the rich accommodation for the New Year’s Eve holiday as the Health Ministry is calling on citizens to avoid parties. (Photo: Engin Akyurt/Unsplash))

In “The Masque of the Red Death,” one of the creepiest works of Edgar Alan Poe, the master of horror stories, a plague called “red death” takes over a country. The prince in the story, his close circle and the nobles lockdown themselves in a monastery. They are supposed to keep the public out and continue their lives, feasting behind the doors. And the fun reaches its climax at a masquerade held by the prince. After a while, a guest disguised as the death in a blood-splattered robe resembling a funeral shroud walks around the ballrooms, attracting everyone’s attention. When the prince stands before the guest with a dagger in his hand, he realizes the bitter truth. It turns out that the guest who somehow infiltrated the monastery is the red death itself. The elites, who cannot go outside due to the plague, die one by one. The story ends with the following sentence: “And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”

The spread of decay is a hurdle for administrating. As it becomes difficult to administrate, governments that remain silent to the spread of decay find the remedy in increasing the pressure and closing in to protect themselves. However, this weakens the control, fails to stop the decay, even accelerating it and making it the “usual.”

In Turkey, we are going through the days of rapid decay becoming the usual.

New Year’s Eve party free for those who have money

Columnist Dr. Osman Müftüoğlu said in his article in daily Hürriyet yesterday that some five-star hotels including those on the banks of the Bosphorus are offer to their customers from Istanbul and Anatolia four-or-five-day accommodation for the New Year’s Eve holiday, naming it the “coronavirus feast.” This was what reminded me of “The Masque of the Red Death.”

Journalist Barış Yarkadaş told Ahu Özyurt on private broadcaster TV100 that among these hotels was a facility owned by Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Yılmaz. It is said that these facilities respect the law so that live music would end at 10 p.m. The citizens are banned from meeting with relatives or friends for a few hours because of the pandemic – a measure that I think is right – but are the rich are allowed to throw New Year’s Eve parties? Isn’t it the ultimate decay? Moreover, the Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Party government, has been warning against such hotel parties for days. We had learned from him that ending the lockdown during the Eid al-Adha holiday caused the disease to spread. It was again the tourism lobby behind the decision.

No coronavirus allowed to Presidential Palace?

Did you watch the footage spread on the social media from the dinner in honor of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi at the Presidential Palace on Dec. 17? The government and Iraq signed agreements on oil trade and the fight against the outlawed PKK, which are fine.

It is yet another issue to raise that there wasn’t even a single woman in the footage. But more importantly, only a few people were wearing masks

Even President Tayyip Erdoğan was not wearing a mask, and fortunately his interpreter was wearing one.

The trolls supporting the government nave argued that “all people at the party had PCR testing.” So can every citizen have that test? Are the invitees to the reception at the Presidential Palace, who sit side by side, immune to the coronavirus? One participant wrote that the attendees enjoyed the songs in Arabic and Turkish, especially the Kirkuk folk songs. What is more, some of those who attended that invitation later had to contact the people from whom they had isolated themselves. This is another example of how decay has become usual.

And the vaccine issue

We had learned that the 50 million doses of vaccine would come from China and this was for 25 million people since each person needs two doses. This was already not sufficient for Turkey. However, we recently leaned that this was also not true and the first batch of vaccines to arrive on Dec. 24 was limited to 3 million doses. So 1.5 million people will be vaccinated. How is this supposed to be enough for a country with a population over 82 million. And who will be prioritized following the health, security, supply chain, food sector employees. Or have the elites of the AKP government already ordered vaccine for themselves from Germany, just like the elites of the Chinese Communist Party rulers have probably done? The processes are not transparent enough for us to find the answers.

As the debate over the vaccine continues, the B.1.1.7., the evolved and mutated type of the Covid-19 virus began to spread. The Health Ministry has suspended flights with and to the U.K., the Netherlands, Denmark and the Republic of South Africa. The German Health Ministry said the vaccine is “though to be” effective on the new type of virus. It is still unproven that the new type is less lethal.

Is the economy really on its way?

The U.S. Congress announced on Dec. 16 the second-largest economic stimulus package in its history to combat the Covid-19 spread. The $900 billion package includes aid to citizens, support to tradesmen and small businesses. Thus, they are preparing for full lockdown and quarantine applications. Turkey cannot impose a full lockdown since apparently there isn’t enough money n the Treasury to aid the citizens.

And how do we know it? Naci Ağbal, who was appointed as the Central Bank by President Erdoğan, who had regarded benefit on interest rates as not only forbidden by religion but also “the mother of evils” in the economy a few months ago, is preparing to increase the interest rates again at the Monetary Policy Meeting on Dec. 24. It had increased the key interest rate to 15 percent as a first step, now the market expectation is at 18 percent. A recent restriction on installment sales in retail implies that the goal is to curb consumption and direct citizens to keep their deposits in banks.

“A drowning man will clutch at a straw.” Isn’t it another definition for decay?

Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu noted on Karar TV that President Erdoğan even does not mention the name of his son-in-law Berat Albayrak, after he replaced him with Lütfi Elvan as the Treasury and Finance Minister. He claims that soon no one will defend him Elvan or Ağbal. He should know something.

From fake diploma to naked body search

Among the latest examples of the decay is the claim that former champion wrestler Hamza Yerlikaya, the board member of state-run Vakıflar Bank who gets four separate salaries, had forged a high school diploma. “Let them prove it, and I will leave politics,” Yerlikaya defended himself. No one asks why he is at that post at all.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said in his address in Parliament that female prisoners in Uşak were subject to naked body search in front of male guards, yet another proof of decay.

The AKP government officials and the deputy chair of the parliament group of the party, Özlem Zengin, strongly objected to this, naming it slander. However, Betül Alpay, a lawyer wearing a headscarf just like Zengin, announced that there were video shootings of her being subjected to the same treatment in front of male guards in the Muğla Prison. Do not do it, Mrs. Zengin. At least, say that claims of torture will be investigated.

Decay in judiciary

According to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader  Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the nomination of İrfan Fidan as a member of the Constitutional Court less one week after being appointed as a member of the Court of Cassasitons by the 101 members of the high appeals court and as a result of the withdrawal of three other candidates, is the latest indicator of decay in the judiciary.  Kılıçdaroğlu also says he filed a criminal complaint against criminal leader Alaattin Çakıcı’s insults and threats on him, but not a single prosecutor has dared to call him to testify. Even despite the fact that Çakıcı said he was ready to testify.

Speaking of the judiciary, the years of detention of Osman Kavala and former HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş should be mentioned. As you know, President Erdoğan said that the judiciary is independent and he cannot give directions, only before saying that he was against Demirtaş’s release. We also remember that U.S. pastor Andrew Bruson, who was jailed in Turkey would only be released only incase the U.S. extradited Fethullah Gülen. The network of Gülen in the judiciary had caused big problems for Turkey and now another network seems to be on duty.

The Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) is in pursuit of building a seaside educational complex in Yahşi, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Aegean resort town of Bodrum. Locals have launched a petition against them. There are no boundaries of decay.


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