[Originally published under the headline "How Patriotic Turks Fought The Dollar #TurkeyEconomy"]
One group produced a symbolic, 2 meter-long dollar banknote and burned it in public, in protest of the greenback’s “attack on our good nation.” Several other individuals and groups joined the “dollar-burning” ritual.
One Turk was pictured shouting his anger at the dollar while burning a euro note. There were consequent newspaper headlines: Turkish nation burns their dollars.
Two men drank generous quantities of booze and fired bullets at the U.S. embassy in Ankara. “We were angry with the dollar’s rise against the lira,” they said in their sober testimony.
A group of party officials smashed an iPhone in front of cameras and television crew.
Thousands of Turks posed in front of cameras while queuing to convert their dollars and euros into their beloved Turkish liras. Not a day passed by without scenes of crowds of patriotic citizens selling their “satanic” dollars and other western currencies in support of the plunging lira.
In 2016 Turks belonging to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s youth organisation gathered in public wearing shrouds, implying their desire and readiness to die for their country in its fight against the American currency. A big banner they held read: “We came in our shrouds. Dollar: We won’t let you destroy our religion.”
Kurdish Turks in Van province danced on top of fake dollars thrown at the floor in protest of what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called “an economic war on our nation.”
A retired teacher in Bursa province burned a real $100 banknote. This happened in a country where a retired teacher, on average, earns $415 a month.
That was the usual Turkish sentimental scene in which sentimental crowds or individuals race to exhibit their nationalistic reflexes; sometimes genuine, sometimes in order to be “noticed” by the centres of power, and sometimes both.
Followed by facts and figures removing the ugly, grotesque mask. According to the Central Bank figures, during all the Turkish frenzy to support Mr Erdoğan’s call for national solidarity against the dollar the Turks’ dollar-termed bank accounts rose by $234 million from $49.891 billion to $50.125 billion during the 11 days on August 20th – August 31st. Meanwhile, the dollar value of Turks’ euro-termed bank accounts, in the same period, rose by $262 million to $23.727 billion. Those numbers exclude foreign currency hoarding.
In other words, while showing off their patriotism in our holy war against the American currency the Turks secretly beefed up their foreign currency accounts by nearly half a billion dollars.
They are patriots because they shout, threaten, intimidate and prosecute traitors who speak of facts and figures. The traitors are traitors simply because they speak of the unwanted truth.
Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based columnist. He regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Defense News and is a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is also a founder of, and associate editor at, the Ankara-based think tank Sigma.