It’s the greatest challenge to his leadership in decades. The man who has ruled the country with an iron fist for more than twenty years is now facing a run-off presidential election.
The devastating earthquake of 6 February, which killed nearly 45,000 people, seriously damaged his reputation. His government is accused of having mismanaged the disaster and above all, of having allowed corruption to develop in the construction sector. Thousands of homes were built by deceitful developers who had little regard for safety standards.
Erdogan’s policies, considered brutal by many, are a mixture of economic liberalism, Islamism and nationalism. He has long presented himself as a Muslim democrat, but today he intends to re-Islamise Turkey, a country that is nonetheless secular. Since 2003, he has built fourteen thousand mosques. The one in Çamlıca at the entrance to the Bosphorus cost nearly three hundred million euros.
Today’s Turkey is also a major producer of textiles, especially for so-called “Islamic” fashion. There are entire shopping centres dedicated to these clothes, famous influencers like Sena Sever who has one million followers on Instagram are among those promoting this clothing trend.
In order to reign unchallenged, Erdogan has brought almost the entire press to heel. According to Reporter Sans Frontières, Turkey is one of the most repressive countries for the press. Eighty-nine journalists have been jailed since 2016. But some brave reporters, like Baris Terkoglu, continue to investigate the regime’s corruption. Baris has thirty-three trials underway, he faces one hundred and fifty-eight years in prison.
We journey through Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, torn between submission and resistance.