Totalitarian bombs

Planting bombs in busy streets, to achieve the greatest possible number of victims, is always brutal and unjustified. But the double bombing in an Istanbul neighborhood last Sunday night goes beyond all limits in terms of its barbarity. First a small bomb went off, and when people gathered to see what had happened, a second exploded, killing 17 people, five of them children, and wounding another 150. The killers wanted many victims. But they also wanted to shake Turkey’s population to the core, to instill the fear of an enemy that respects no rules of human conduct. Their identity is not yet known. Despite the fact that the authorities, including Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have pointed at the Kurdish separatists of the PKK, the timing of the attack places it at the center of the mortal struggle between the «deep state» of secular nationalists and Erdogan’s Islamist party. Ankara’s Constitutional Court is deliberating whether to ban Ergodan’s party and banish him, President Abdullah Gul and others from politics. At the same time, police have been rounding up members of a shadowy organization whom prosecutors accuse of trying to trigger a coup to overthrow the government. Years may pass before we learn the truth, but it is easy in the circumstances to assume that Sunday’s bombs were aimed at creating a climate of insecurity that would work in favor of the security and para-state forces, at the expense of the government. If this were the aim, it backfired: Erdogan was warmly received at a mass funeral of victims on Monday. What is clear is that the perpetrators will never be able to atone for so many deaths. Whatever they claim regarding «liberation» (if they are separatists) or the effort to protect the secular state, they have revealed a totalitarian mentality: They want the people to submit to their will and aims. Sunday’s slaughter may make moderates on both sides of Turkey’s great battle realize that they face an enemy more terrible than either – fanaticism.

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