Liberal academic Murat Belge, a well-known supporter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP government seeks 'asylum' at Oxford University via the quota of ‘Council for At-Risk Academics’ (CARA), a charitable British organization that offers support to academics in immediate danger.
Still working as a professor at İstanbul Bilgi University's Comparative Literature department, 74-year-old Murat Belge is well known with his overt support to AKP government since 2001 when Recep Tayyip Erdoğan established the party.
THE SINS OF MURAT BELGE
As Belge attempts to flee the existing "hell" in Turkey under the authoritarian rule of AKP government and Erdoğan, he has become an object of mockery and satire among many academics, media outlets and social media users because of his and his liberal fellows' infamous huge contribution to the growth of political Islam and the AKP rule.
Belge lent help to the big alliance of AKP government and the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen’s network. Remained in power more than a decade, this grand alliance of political Islamists played a devastating role in collapsing the secular and Republican values of the country, as it continued just until recent years, eventually culminating in a coup attempt that was orchestrated by some groups, including the Gülen's religious network (FETÖ).
Seeking for financial aid from the British CARA organization on his road to Oxford University, Murat Belge was also financially supported when he severally participated in the Gülenist-led Abant platform's forums and meetings in the name of developing "democracy" in Turkey.
Nurettin Veren, one of the former right hands of Fethullah Gülen, declared that the liberal participants of the platform were rewarded with 2 to 3 thousand U.S. dollar for their appearances at such meetings, an allegation that Belge has never denied.
A CHRONIC SUPPORTER OF AKP-GÜLEN ALLIANCE
One of the founding authors of Birikim journal, which has been a longstanding mainstream liberal periodical, Murat Belge supported the AKP government from the very beginning. In 2008, when Erdoğan’s AKP party and the Gülenists enjoyed the peak years of the alliance before the new foes were still old friends, Belge said, "I prefer the AKP to govern," suggesting that there was no alternative to the AKP.
Murat Belge and his liberal fellows, academics, columnists, journalists and artists dealt a fatal blow to Turkey's political establishment while lending a kiss of life to Erdoğan's AKP rule during the striking constitutional referendum in 2010.
As Turkey's liberals, the ruling AKP party and Gülen's network formed a "holy" alliance during the referendum process, Belge became one of the leading megaphones of the 'yes' campaign with the slogan, "Not enough, but yes!"
Erdoğan's party scheduled the critical referendum on September 12, 2010, a specially designated date with reference to Turkey’s military coup of September 12, 1980, under the mask of launching "democratic and judicial reforms" in an attempt to get rid of "military tutelage" in the country.
On the other hand, Fethullah Gülen is known to have said in those days, "Let the dead rise from their graves to vote for 'yes' if necessary," showing the real intention of his sect within the alliance as the referendum resulted in the Gülenists' big influence in many such governmental institutions as military, jurisdiction and police
During the referendum process, Belge rhetorically asked, "Whether the AKP is planning to establish a plebiscitary dictatorship?" and answered, "I think this would not be a meaningful question under existing circumstances … on the contrary, [the package of the referendum] projects such amendments in favour of democracy."
BELGE ACCUSED THE KILLED PROTESTOR OF 'PLOTTING' AGAINST AKP GOV’T
On the eve of Turkish general election in 2011, Metin Lokumcu, a left-leaning teacher, was killed during a police attack with tear gas and water cannon in a protest against the government's hydroelectric power plant project in the northeastern city of Hopa just before an electoral rally of then-Prime Minister Erdoğan.
Highly rhapsodizing the AKP rule, liberal academic Belge accused the killed man, Lokumcu, of participating in a "conspiratorial" protest against Erdoğan's party in order to reduce the popular support of the government.
Belge dishonestly accused Lokumcu of being a part of a suspected secularist clandestine organization of "Ergenekon", plotting against the government. However, many innocent officers, journalists and opposition figures were put behind bars with falsified evidence and indictments written by Gülenist and pro-government prosecutors.
BELGE AS A 'WISE MAN' OF AKP
Murat Belge appeared again during the "solution process" initiated by the AKP government and the Kurdish politicians with the aim of allegedly resolving the longstanding Kurdish-Turkish conflict.
As a member of the government-led "wise people committee" composed of 63 "intellectuals" and well-known public figures, Murat Belge visited Turkey’s southeastern region, a highly Kurdish populated area, in the name of building peace under the rule of AKP. However, the "solution process" failed when the parties could not agree on further proceedings behind closed doors.
As political instability hit Turkey particularly following the failed coup in July 2016, being deceived has become a farcical rhetoric; so much so that Erdoğan claimed that he had been deceived by the Gülenists while liberals set forth that they were deceived by the AKP's "democratic" tone.
"Most recently in readjusted Turkey, the political polarization is gradually shifting to an axis of democracy/lack of democracy. Not which party we support, but what democratic step we support is becoming important. A party we don’t like may take such a step, our own party may challenge to it," Belge said in 2015, hinting that he could support the AKP again as he said that he was not deceived.
IS BELGE REALLY REGRETFUL?
One can ask: is Murat Belge regretful about his political career in fostering the AKP rule up to these days? Yet the answer suddenly flashes: no, he is not.
As a chronic pro-AKP liberal personality, Belge supported the government again in an interview a few months ago. "As a Muslim party that has an electoral potential, the AKP is doing step by step what the left-wing advocated at one time", Belge noted, showing that he does not feel regretful at all.
As Murat Belge and his liberal fellows have fled or are trying to flee the country, the working people of Turkey have to live amid anti-labour and anti-secular impositions and struggle against the darkness of AKP rule, to the creation of which Belge and the liberal intelligentsia heavily contributed.