Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that “outside” forces are driving protests in Turkey as well as Brazil. He alleged that a conspiracy of various media and interests, aided by Facebook and Twitter, were to blame for unrest in both countries. “They are controlled from the same centre. They are doing their best to achieve in Brazil what they could not achieve in Turkey. It is the same game, the same trap, the same goal.”
“Mr Erdogan says the Turkish protests are linked to terrorism, an international plot against his country and ‘an interest rate lobby’ disturbed by its recent high rates of growth,” Daniel Dombey reports for the Financial Times.
This “interest rate lobby” is a good issue for Erdogan to jump on. It conjures up shadowy international capitalists with ties to traditional Turkish big businesses (which were mostly affiliated with the Kemalists). Charging interest is prohibited under most circumstances in Islamic banking, so he accuses this “lobby” and its network of being anti-religious and sinful as well as betraying Turkey to foreigners.
Furthermore, the ascendant businesses of the Anatolian heartland that back Erdogan’s government tend to need low interest rates to allow their undercapitalized firms to expand. To foreign ears, and to Erdogan’s liberal and secular opponents in Turkey, his ominous warnings of “outside” forces sound weird and panicky, but this tactic is effectively rallying his base.
[PM Erdogan photo courtesy Getty Images]