The hideous mask of xeno­pho­bia and iden­ti­tar­i­an nation­al­ism is not made in Chi­na. It is home-grown.

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Between the false con­tro­ver­sy over “fron­tiers” con­cern­ing the spread­ing virus, the ever-present “great replace­ment the­o­ry” and Erdo­gan again push­ing thou­sands of refugees toward the pad­locked doors of Europe, there are a few com­mon denom­i­na­tors: behind the masks, you find with­draw­al and iden­ti­tar­i­an nationalism.

For the Turk­ish regime, bat­tling against every­thing that is not its exclu­sive and big­ot­ted iden­ti­ty, the mil­lions of Syr­i­an refugees on its soil or close to it are tol­er­at­ed when they are use­ful as can­non fod­der, as war prox­ies, as qua­si-free labor in-coun­try, or accept­ed as “investors”…But they remain “Syr­i­ans” just as Arme­ni­ans, Greeks, Kurds, Roms, Ale­vis remain to be poten­tial­ly des­ig­nat­ed as sep­a­ratists or ter­ror­ists against the Nation-State.

And, in recent days, while Erdo­gan gets bogged down in a war in Syr­ia and attempts to black­mail the EU who is look­ing else­where, Syr­i­an refugees, these “oth­er unde­sir­ables”, are weaponized in his end-game.

The nation­al­is­tic over­flow that explod­ed when a “sol­dier of the nation” was killed in the zone of Idlib, gets turned against “the invad­ing Syr­i­an refugees”. Every­thing gets marked down as a ben­e­fit when it serves the regime’s pol­i­cy as it attempts to gain favor from the Euro­pean gov­ern­ments, both diplo­mat­i­cal­ly and in cash.

Turk­ish author­i­ties, the polit­i­cal par­ties (except the HDP), from ultra-nation­al­ists to lead­ers of the Kemal­ist oppo­si­tion encour­aged Syr­i­an refugees to leave while block­ing new arrivals from the province of Hatay, chased out of Idlib by the war.

Pho­tos and news sto­ries showed the lev­el of orga­ni­za­tion and the logis­tics put in place both to send the flow of thou­sands of refugees toward the Greek fron­tier, near Edirne, while defraud­ing them of their last remain­ing resources. The sea route was also re—opened, remov­ing the exiled from the tem­po­rary shel­ters they had found.

To this pur­pose the ultra-nation­al­ist “grey wolves” even gen­er­at­ed man­hunts in var­i­ous places. They did­n’t both­er wear­ing masks to do it.

Oth­er peo­ple hound­ed by war have been des­ig­nat­ed for the role of offi­cial human shields in the buffer zone demand­ed by the Turk­ish regime in its recon­quest in Syr­ia. This will also serve their pur­pose in the anti-Kur­dish eth­nic cleans­ing. For this pol­i­cy of inva­sion, Erdo­gan con­tin­ues to demand Euro­pean funds and a discharge.

What are the first consequences of this instrumentalization of the refugees?

First of all, in Greece, the author­i­ties make use of Erdo­gan’s black­mail to show them­selves the good pupils of the Euro­pean pol­i­cy as per­tains to the “man­age­ment of migra­to­ry flows”, by vio­len­ty push­ing back the forced migra­tion. (One per­son died today under fire from the Greek mil­i­tary.) To this pur­pose, these same lead­ers let the nation­al­ist Gold­en Dawn iden­ti­tar­i­ans do the work of “push­ing back into the sea” on the islands…This process which, until recent­ly was a pol­i­cy of the extreme right wing in Italy, comes with a request for extra funds from the EU.

We see all of the Euro­pean extreme right wings grab­bing the top­ic, thus val­i­dat­ing the Turk­ish regime’s black­mail. The ide­o­log­i­cal tran­si­tion is easy between con­trol­ling a virus and con­trol­ling invad­ing migrants, in this peri­od of fear of epi­demics and the wear­ing of masks. The Euro­pean con­ti­nent has already lived through this assim­i­la­tion of migra­tions with ter­ror­ism. The pro­gres­sion here is the same.

Behind the mask, fascism breathes its hatred and bides its time

Who will under­stand how the racist extreme right berates Turkey for racist rea­sons while bor­row­ing its ultra-nation­al­ism, expressed by the same Erdo­gan and sup­port­ed by a hys­ter­i­cal domes­tic front.

Out of the seething caul­dron of the Syr­i­an war, demons are ris­ing out of the rem­nants of all that was rot­ting in the region, under the cri­sis of the Nation-States.

And with­out look­ing very far, when an intel­lec­tu­al and writer such as Asli Erdo­gan wrote from prison in the begin­ning of Decem­ber 2016 “Many signs indi­cate that the Euro­pean lib­er­al democ­ra­cies can no longer feel secure while the fire spreads near them. The Turk­ish “demo­c­ra­t­ic cri­sis”, under­es­ti­mat­ed or ignored for such a long time for prac­ti­cal rea­sons, this grow­ing risk of Islamist and mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship, will have seri­ous con­se­quences. No one can afford the lux­u­ry of ignor­ing the sit­u­a­tion, and espe­cial­ly not we, jour­nal­ists, writ­ers, aca­d­e­mics who owe our very exis­tence to free­dom of thought and expres­sion…” she was only call­ing for the need to see the true nature of what lurks behind the masks.

One of the rea­sons for the exis­tence of Kedis­tan mag­a­zine involves this will to end­less­ly explain that for sev­er­al cen­turies – and let us only con­sid­er the pre­vi­ous one — Turkey and Mesopotamia have been involved in a strong polit­i­cal dialec­tic which deserves more and bet­ter atten­tion than an Ori­en­tal­ist glance from world liberalism.

Final­ly, if I may allow myself a read­ing sug­ges­tion : La vio­lence et ses masques — Notes pré­para­toires (In French)

masque réfugiés frontières

By Gian­lu­ca Costantini

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…