The scariest thing about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is that a great many Turks already think just like him.
Opinion polls sometimes reveal the unknown, but more often confirm the empirically known. The pollsters in MetroPOLL's "Turkey's Pulse – January 2015: Religion, Violence and Freedom" fall into the second category.
The survey not only provides data on what the Turk thinks about religion, violence and freedom, but also on what the Turk who voted for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the last election thinks on the same subjects. The findings of the poll are useful in showing the discrepancy between the opinion of the average Turk and the average AKP voter.
For instance, the poll found that 19.6 percent of Turks think the Charlie Hebdo attack was the natural response to men who insulted Prophet Mohammed while only 16.4 percent of Turks thought of the incident as an attack on freedom of expression. Among AKP voters, the rate of approval of the attack was 26.4 percent; and only 6.2 percent viewed it as an attack on free speech.
Nearly 45% of Turks and 58% of AKP voters think that the Charlie Hebdo attack was the work of foreign intelligence services.
Nearly 45 percent of Turks and 57.5 percent of AKP voters think that the Charlie Hebdo attack was the work of foreign intelligence services. Slightly over 30 percent of Turks and 17.8 percent of AKP voters blame the attack on radical Islamists.
Who was hurt by the attack? Nearly 66 percent of Turks and 75 percent of AKP voters think the Islamic world and Muslims living in Europe combined were aggrieved by the attack. Only 15.4 percent of AKP voters (and 21.2 percent of Turks) think the victims were the cartoonists who were killed.
Do they approve of the use of violence in the name of Islam in (unspecified) certain cases? A third of AKP voters and a fifth of Turks said "Yes." Nearly three-quarters of Turks but slightly over 55 percent of AKP voters would unconditionally disapprove of violence.
The numbers also produce a different portrayal of thinking about apostasy and insult among the Turks and AKP voters. Only 14.5 percent of Turks approve of (unspecified) punishment for apostates while 22.7 percent of AKP voters advocate punishment. Similarly, 60.9 percent of AKP voters and 43.6 percent of Turks approve of (unspecified) punishment for insulting religion.
In the year 2015, do the (Christian) Crusaders' attacks against Islam continue? Nearly 55 percent of Turks and 66 percent of AKP voters think they do. It would be interesting to see what percentage of AKP voters think past and potential allied attacks on Iraq and Syria (the latter fiercely supported by the AKP) would be parts of the Crusaders' attacks against Islam. Sadly, the pollsters omitted that question.
The ideological profile of the man who votes for the AKP is perfectly convergent with that of the party.
A decreasing but overwhelming majority of Turks (70.6 percent compared to 84.5 percent in February 2013) think that the state should be secular. In contrast, a third of AKP voters think it should not, while 52.1 percent think it should.
The ideological profile of the man who votes for the AKP is perfectly convergent with that of the party and its master's: That killing Charlie Hebdo cartoonists was not an attack on freedom of expression; that the attack was carried out by foreign (but non-Muslim, no doubt) intelligence services; that Muslims are the real victims; that insulting religion should be punished; that Christian Crusaders keep on attacking Islam even this day; and that the state should not be secular.
The passionate bond between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and nearly half the country may be more pragmatic and transactional but it certainly has an ideological dimension too. After all, great minds think alike, do they not?
All the same it remains a mystery why Turks increasingly want to be a part of the club which they think maintains the Crusaders' attacks against the Islamic world. A bigger mystery is how tens of thousands of innocent Muslims foolishly become pawns in foreign intelligence services' plots, kill millions of other Muslims (along with fewer non-Muslims) and deeply hurt the Islamic world.
Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.