Talking Turkey


“The Washington Post” thinks that “democracy dies in darkness”, but in Turkey it has been under a slow and steady assault by the ruling party in broad daylight for the past decade and a half. Regardless, The Bezos Post now gives space to Turkey’s Islamist leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the man who is inspired by Hitler, jails journalists as a hobby and dreams of recreating the Ottoman Empire, the opportunity to pontificate against terrorism:

The Christchurch massacre’s alleged perpetrator attempted to legitimize his twisted views by distorting world history and the Christian faith. He sought to plant seeds of hate among fellow humans. As a leader who has repeatedly stressed that terrorism has no religion, language or race, I categorically reject any attempt to associate last week’s terrorist attacks with the teachings, morals or maxims of Christianity. If anything, what happened in New Zealand was the toxic product of ignorance and hate.

This is not the first time the Turkish people have witnessed a gross distortion of history in the hands of terrorists. Viewing history through the lens of its radical ideology, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, a terrorist organization that has killed thousands of predominantly Muslim civilians in recent years, called for the “reconquest” of Istanbul — much like the Christchurch attacker, who pledged in his manifesto to make the city “rightfully christian owned once more.” The Islamic State similarly vowed to destroy the Republic of Turkey — one of the reasons Turkish troops cracked down so hard on the terror group in Syria.

In this regard, we must establish that there is absolutely no difference between the murderer who killed innocent people in New Zealand and those who have carried out terrorist acts in Turkey, France, Indonesia and elsewhere.

After attacks by the Islamic State, there was no shortage of Western politicians and commentators blaming the most deplorable acts of terrorism on Islam and Muslims — people whose opinions are very much aligned with the Australian senator Fraser Anning. At the time, we objected to the association of our faith with terrorism, and pledged to disallow any attempt by terrorists to hijack our religion. Unfortunately, Islamophobia and xenophobia, among other practices incompatible with liberal values, were met with silence in Europe and other parts of the Western world. We cannot afford to allow this again. If the world wants to prevent future assaults similar to the one in New Zealand, it must start by establishing that what happened was the product of a coordinated smear campaign.

No one that I’m aware of has been trying to associate the Christchurch attack with the teachings, morals or maxims of Christianity, but thanks anyway. Erodogan is trying to build a religion equivalence here in order to disavow it, but Tarrant has been a very secular terrorist, motivated by racial politics and hasn’t been misreading his particular holy book, as is oft-said about Al-Qaeda, ISIS and their ilk. Tarrant and ISIS are indeed quite similar, though the former’s ideology is defensive and separatist while the latter’s is offensive and expansionist, but that actually goes to show that terrorism – an instrument, a tactic – does actually have a religion, language or race, or rather it can have many religions (or no religion), many languages and many races.

Hypocrisy abounds in Erdogan’s op-ed, from railing against imperialism while trying to recreate a neo-Ottoman empire (“Those who think that we have erased from our hearts the lands from which we withdrew in tears a hundred years ago are wrong. We say at every opportunity we have that Syria, Iraq and other places in the geography [map] in our hearts are no different from our own homeland. We are struggling so that a foreign flag will not be waved anywhere where adhan [Islamic call to prayer in mosques] is recited.”) or praising own anti-terror credentials while in reality being interested only in killing the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds, who have actually been the most effective anti-ISIS force on the ground in the six-year struggle against the Caliphate.

And while speaking against Islamophobia and xenophobia in the West, Erogan himself whips up Turkish nationalism among the vast Turkish diaspora in Europe, while playing the Christchurch GoPro video at his political rallies at home:

Making reference to Turkey’s victory over Australian and New Zealand troops in Gallipoli, the Turkish President threatened that anyone who came to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments would be sent back in coffins.

On Monday, Mr Erdogan spoke at a rally on the Gallipoli peninsula where Ottoman soldiers defeated British-led forces including Australian and New Zealand troops trying to seize the peninsula, a gateway to Istanbul.

He spoke of the mosque attacks in New Zealand as part of a wider attack on Turkey and evidence of a global anti-Muslim sentiment.

“They are testing us from 16,500 kilometres away, from New Zealand, with the messages they are giving from there,” he said. “This isn’t an individual act, this is organised.”

Mr Erdogan criticised New Zealand and Australia for sending troops to Turkey in the World War I Gallipoli campaign, claiming their motive was anti-Islam-oriented.

“Your grandparents came here … and they returned in caskets,” he said. “Have no doubt we will send you back like your grandfathers.”

The only one who both wants and has the power to destroy the (secular) Republic of Turkey is its own President. Talk about extremism.