Archive for the ‘Europe and Turks’ category

The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization

June 7, 2017

The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abigail R. Esman, June 7, 2017

When tanks entered the streets of Istanbul and Ankara last summer in an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government, people swarmed the streets to fight them off. At the urging of their president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, they pushed back against the coup, some waving Turkish flags, others waving guns. “What else would you do?” A friend in Istanbul asked me some months later. “When your government and your country are attacked, you fight back. It’s to be expected.”

Less expected, however, were the crowds of Turkish-Europeans who also took to the streets in cities like Rotterdam, where dozens demonstrated on the city’s Erasmus Bridge, waving Turkish flags and, in some cases, crying out “Allahu Akbar.” For many non-Turkish Europeans, the action felt almost threatening: Were these people Turkish or European? Could they reasonably be both? Or did they represent a fifth column, aiming to overtake Europe from within?

In Holland, members of Leefbaar Rotterdam (Livable Rotterdam), the populist political party founded by the late Pim Fortuyn, determined to address the issue head-on. They held a public panel discussion last week to debate the question of who these demonstrators were: traitors? Dual citizens with torn allegiances? Could they be true to both their Turkish heritage and to the Dutch culture in which they were born and raised?

Left unspoken were the more pressing questions, the ones the non-Turks really meant: do Dutch Turks identify more with the Islamist policies and values of Erdogan and his regime, or with the secular Enlightenment, the democratic culture of the West? What, after all, to think of the fact that the vast majority of European Turks voted for Erdogan in the November 2015 elections, and again voted against democracy in Turkey’s April 16 referendum, which gave him virtually limitless powers until 2029?

While this particular debate took place in Rotterdam, once the home of the Renaissance humanist Erasmus, these questions have hovered over all of Europe since the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid and, even more, the 2005 attacks in London – and not only about the Turks, but about Muslim immigrants in general.

With Europe facing a near-continual onslaught of Islamist terrorist attacks often perpetrated by homegrown extremists, those questions feel more urgent than ever.

But both the issue and its urgency are far more complex than a matter of allegiance. For many second- and third-generation immigrant youth, especially those from Turkey and Morocco, it is also a matter of identity. As dark-skinned immigrants with names like Fatima and Mohammed, they are often discriminated against in their home countries. The values of their families and their religious leaders do not always mesh with the values of their communities and governments. But when they visit their cousins and grandparents in Anatolia and rural Morocco, they find they don’t fit in there, either.

Many counterterrorism experts maintain that this situation makes Muslim European youth especially vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment by terror groups. As Belgian-Palestinian jihad expert Montasser AIDe’emeh has noted of Belgian Moroccan extremists such as the Paris and Brussels attackers, “The Islamic State is giving them what the Belgian government can’t give them – identity, structure. They don’t feel Moroccan or Belgian. They don’t feel part of either society.” And speaking to PBS’s Judy Woodruff, Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, observed that “the cause [of radicalization] is ultimately a conflict of identity. It is about second- or third-generation descendants of Muslim immigrants no longer feeling at home in their parents’ or grandparents’ culture, at the same time not being accepted into European societies.”

If this is true, then what to make of the Turkish-European dual citizens choosing, as most have, to support Erdogan’s Islamist policies while living in the liberal West? Are they integrated, assimilated, into the cultures in which they live, as most insisted during the Rotterdam debate? Or are they rather true to the norms of a Turkey that is becoming increasingly religious, turning increasingly eastward, and to a president who is gradually unraveling the secular Western vision of the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk?

At the same time, does waving the Turkish flag when the country is attacked mean they are not actually Dutch? Should Dutch Jews not fly the flag of Israel, or Dutch-Americans have left their stars and stripes at home after 9/11?

“It’s more than just flags,” Ebru Umar, a Dutch-Turkish journalist who moderated last week’s event, explained in an e-mail. “The flags symbolize who they are…. They claim to be soldiers of Erdogan.” Hence, she said, “the people [demonstrating] on the [Erasmus] bridge were and are seen as not integrated. Ask them and they’ll answer they are integrated. And [yet] they tell you of course they adore Erdogan.” Indeed, she noted, they even stated it at the debate: “‘You can’t ask a child whom they love more: mum or dad.'”

It is a false equivalency, however. This is not about loving one parent more than another, but about accepting one of two opposing sets of values: those of secular democracies, or those of Islamist theocracies. There is no combining the two. There is no compromise.

Which is what makes these questions so very critical right now – not just for the Dutch, but for all Europeans, as they confront a complex, existential dilemma. Should they continue to alienate the growing population of young Muslims, and should those same young Muslims continue to resist assimilation, they will together be laying out the welcome mat for recruiters for jihad. But should Europe instead accept the Islamist leanings of those same Muslim youth, it will soon discover there was a fifth column after all – a movement to Islamize the West. And it will have succeeded.

Westminster carnage, Turkish delight

March 24, 2017

Westminster carnage, Turkish delight, Israel Hayom, Ruthie Blum, March 24, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t know he was going to get so lucky on Wednesday when a threat he issued instantly materialized.

Indeed, the Islamist leader of the formerly modernizing democracy was probably happily amazed at the news of the terrorist attack in London, as it came on the heels of a speech he delivered in Ankara, in which he warned that in “no part of the world, no European, no Westerner, will be able to take steps on the street safely and peacefully.” This fate would befall them, he said, if they “continue to behave like this.”

Of course, Erdogan was not personally responsible for the rampage of U.K.-born Khalid Masood, who managed to murder four people before being killed by police. Nor had he specified what he meant by claiming the West would not be safe.

He did, however, caution that Turkey is “not a country to push, to prod, to play with its honor, to shove its ministers out of the door, drag its citizens on the floor.”

He had a point: Only Erdogan and his goons are at liberty to drag Turkish citizens on the floor.

This was not the point he was trying to make, however. Erdogan denies that he imprisons anyone he considers critical of his regime. But he has to do that when he spends so much time accusing Europe of human-rights abuses.

Meanwhile, the only “human rights” Erdogan really cares about are his own. More precisely, what he most hungers for is power, which he has been ruthless at procuring and making sure not to lose, by any authoritarian means. The failed attempt to oust him last July made this all the more clear, when he took the opportunity of the thwarted coup to crack down on every sector of society, locking up journalists, judges, police and members of the military on bogus grounds.

This is also why he is so intent on winning the April 16 constitutional referendum, which if passed will see Turkey shift from a parliamentary to a presidential political system. Erdogan and others who support the move claim it will make governance more efficient. But the wannabe dictator’s real reason is singular: to enhance and secure his growing reign of terror.

With polls indicating that the Turkish public is split down the middle on this issue, Erdogan took his campaign to the EU, where Germany and the Netherlands in particular are home to many expatriate Turks. Facing reservations from both — though Germany said it would give permission if he made the process more transparent and put a stop to his aggressive and inappropriate rhetoric — Erdogan doubled down, calling them Nazis and fascists.

“They have nothing to do with the civilized world,” he said in a televised address earlier this month. “The EU is fast going toward drowning in its own fears.”

If this assertion has any merit, it is precisely because of rulers and proxies with Erdogan’s ideology. Though he touts his role in the war against Islamic State to show his enlightenment, he is attempting to bring his country into the same dark ages that the Sunni murderers occupy. In other words, Erdogan, who has close ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, has shown time and again that it is only certain terrorists he wants eradicated; the others, his allies, spill the blood of infidels.

Wednesday’s attack at Westminster — whose perpetrator Islamic State claimed as a “soldier” in its call to ill Britons — may not have been inspired by Erdogan’s friends. But Masood’s knife-wielding, car-ramming actions expressed the same antipathy towards Judeo-Christian societal values that all Islamists harbor.

Erdogan ought to know, which is precisely why Europe must take his admonitions seriously and pray he loses next month’s referendum.