Archive for the ‘Islam in Turkey’ category

Turkey lira crashes to new lows as market alarm grows

August 10, 2018


© AFP | The lira’s drastic fall has European banks worried

10 August 2018 – 13H20 France 24

Source Link: Turkey lira crashes to new lows as market alarm grows

{Trump drops another economic bomb. – LS}

ISTANBUL (AFP) –

Turkey’s embattled lira on Friday hit new record lows against the US dollar and euro, losing over six percent in value as strains with the United States showed no sign of abating and fears grew over the exposure of European banks.

The lira was trading at 5.90 to the dollar, a loss on the day of 6.5 percent. Earlier, it had crashed some 12 percent through the 6.00 level for the first time in history, trading at one point at more than 6.20 lira per dollar.

The lira has now lost over a third of its value against both the dollar and the euro this year, with the currency battered by both concerns over domestic economic policy and the political situation.

Versus the euro on Friday the lira lost 7.0 percent to trade at 6.8.

Turkey remains at loggerheads with the United States in one of the worst spats between the two NATO allies in years over the detention for the last two years of American pastor Andrew Brunson and a host of other issues.

Talks this week in Washington failed to resolve the impasse which has led both sides to slap sanctions on senior officials amid fears of graver measures to come.

– Doubts over central bank –

Meanwhile, markets are deeply concerned over the direction of economic policy under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with inflation nearly 16 percent but the central bank reluctant to raise rates in response.

UBS chief economist for EMEA emerging markets Gyorgy Kovacs said a giant rate hike of 350-400 basis points would be “consistent with real rate levels that in the past helped to stabilise the currency.”

He warned a “rate hike alone might not stem the worries about the US and Turkey tensions and a potential further escalation.”

And it remains unclear if the bank would be willing to sharply lift rates with analysts saying the nominally independent institution is under the influence of Erdogan, who wants low rates to keep growth humming.

Erdogan after winning June 24 elections with revamped powers tightened his control over the central bank and appointed his son-in-law Berat Albayrak to head a newly-empowered finance ministry.

“President Erdogan’s strengthened powers under the new presidential system have made it increasingly uncertain whether policymakers will be able to act to stabilise the economy,” said William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London.

He said the lira’s fall was being exacerbated by fears the central bank “isn’t being permitted to raise interest rates”.

– ‘Accelerating speed’ –

Concerns were intensified Friday by a report in the Financial Times that the supervisory wing of the European Central Bank (ECB) had over the last weeks began to look more closely at euro zone lenders’ exposure to Turkey.

The report said that the situation is not yet seen as “critical” but Spain’s BBVA, Italy’s UniCredit and France’s BNP Paribas are regarded as particularly exposed.

“Investors have been looking at the unfolding currency crisis in Turkey as a local difficulty, however the accelerating speed of the declines appears to be raising concerns about European banks exposure to the Turkish banking system,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Albayrak, who formerly served as energy minister, is on Friday expected to announce what he has described as a “new economic model” for Turkey but markets remain sceptical.

The president did nothing to reassure markets with comments overnight that the pressure on the lira was due to what he described as a “variety of campaigns” and appearing to play down the magnitude of the crisis.

“If they have dollars, we have our people, we have our right and we have Allah!” he said.

The plunge in the lira has featured remarkably little on Turkish television channels and newspapers — most of which after recent ownership changes are loyal to the government — with most media focusing instead on recent flooding by the Black Sea.

© 2018 AFP

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.

Europe: Denying the Threat of Islamic Imperialism

May 11, 2017

Europe: Denying the Threat of Islamic Imperialism, Gatestone InstituteMaria Polizoidou, May 11, 2017

The UN report and Erdogan’s rhetoric both evidently expresses the Muslim world’s thoughts about what it apparently thinks should be the fate of Israel and Europe. So far, not a single Muslim state has condemned or opposed Erdogan’s aggression against Judeo-Christian civilization.

The enemy is already inside the gates; many European regimes seem unaware that there is even a threat.

The logic of much of Europe’s religious and political community seems to be that if the elephant in the room is spoken to nicely and made to look cute and adorable, people will not think of it as a threat to their safety.

The Western world can no longer ignore the latest elephant in the room: Islamic imperialism. Europe has gone so far as to hamper free speech on the subject, apparently preferring to put the safety of its citizens at risk over admitting that the elephant exists.

Meanwhile, Muslim countries make not the slightest effort to hide their intentions, as recent actions of 18 such states at the United Nations illustrate. They cooperated in the preparation of the report released in March by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), which accused Israel of “the crime of apartheid,” despite knowing full well that such a baseless claim would be rejected by the world body now that Donald Trump is at the helm of the free world. The reason they went ahead with it anyway was to convey to the West that delegitimizing the Jewish state was merely the first step in a master plan to unravel all of Judeo-Christian civilization and values.

For a body such as UNESCWA to declare the State of Israel in an official Institute’s report, as being guilty of “the crime of apartheid” according to international law, shows that Islamic expansionism is a real and an active political problem.

UNESCWA must have had some idea, before publishing the report, that such a loopy conclusion could not be adopted, even by the UN, which has been doing its utmost to rewrite historical facts. In the last few years, UNESCO has repeatedly declared pre-Islamic historical sites Islamic.

Nevertheless, UNESCWA proceeded to pass this surreal political concoction, probably to declare to the Western world again its attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and all the freedoms it represents in the Judeo-Christian world that might threaten the expansion of Islam.

It was an attempt to project power.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, which even before his new, absolute powers, wanted to represent all of Sunni Islam, shows to the Western world the true face of Islamic imperialism and the conventional, irregular and cyber war it appears to have declared on the Christian world.

The UN report and Erdogan’s rhetoric both evidently expresses the Muslim world’s thoughts about what it apparently thinks should be the fate of Israel and Europe. So far, not a single Muslim state has condemned or opposed Erdogan’s aggression against Judeo-Christian civilization.

ANKARA, TURKEY – APRIL 17: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gives a referendum victory speech to his supporters at the Presidential Palace on April 17, 2017 in Ankara Turkey. Erdogan declared victory in Sunday’s historic referendum that will grant sweeping powers to the presidency, hailing the result as a “historic decision. 51.4 per cent per cent of voters had sided with the “Yes” campaign, ushering in the most radical change to the country’s political system in modern times.Turkey’s main opposition calls on top election board to annul the referendum. OSCE observers said that a Turkish electoral board decision to allow as valid ballots that did not bear official stamps undermined important safeguards against fraud. (Photo by Elif Sogut/Getty Images)

According to Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu, “[T]here will soon be religious wars inside Europe”. The enemy is already inside the gates; many European regimes seem unaware that there is even a threat.

Corrupted elites, with the help of many in the international community, try to suffocate Israel economically; and the biased and dishonest media seem to be trying to hide from the public that they work as proxies of Islamic imperialism, promoting Islamic ideology and condemning the values of the West.

Pope Francis and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew use Jesus’s phrase “Love each other as I have loved you” as a religious justification to love people who are ordered — under threat of eternal hellfire — not only never to love you, but to have nothing whatever to do with you, apart from trying to win you over to their firmly-held belief:

“O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them.” — Qur’an 5:51

The logic of much of Europe’s religious and political community seems to be that if the elephant in the room is spoken to nicely and made to look cute and adorable, people will not think of it as a threat to their safety.

Left-wing ideologues and unwitting fellow travelers hide the nature of the elephant. This was the approach of President Obama, who, along with European leaders, provided space in which the elephant could operate, grow and undermine the fabric of Western societies.

Key to this enabling has been a Western focus on fake politics — such as the obsession with issues such as transgender bathrooms and rights for women who are already blessed with rights — while Islamists are actually oppressing gays and women in the most rigid fashion.

The Obama administration metamorphosed real politics into fake politics, where people talk — instead of about freedom and democracy — about feminism, gender studies, transgender bathrooms, feeling offended and endless vaginology.

Christian leaders have also been trying to deflect from the threat. Both Pope Francis and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I use Jesus’s phrase, “Love each other as I have loved you” to disguise and minimize it.

Meanwhile, the elephant in the room gets bigger and bigger and is ready, according to the Turkish president’s statements, to destroy the house.

The West seems addicted to prettying up terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood or the PLO. Wishing away danger is nothing new to the West. It was not until President Ronald Reagan exposed the Soviet Union as an “evil empire,” for example, that the threat of Communism began to be taken seriously. Within six years, the USSR collapsed.

The behavior of many Western political leaders, jumping from one definition to another about the “true nature of Islam,” has so far been disastrous. The tenets of Islam are there or all to see; people in the West seem not to want to look.

What are we Westerners doing trying to tell Muslims what their religion is, in the first place? Do they try to tell us what “real Christianity” is?

Sadly, too much of what we have seen of Islam in the West has been violent. Countless attacks, with shouts of “Allahu Akbar” have been claimed in the name of Islam. In terms of what their religion stands for, you at least have to give them credit for being forthright. We in the West are the ones who have lied.

Ultimately, if we do not confront this problem, this problem will confront us.

Romania: Lawsuit Launched to Stop Bucharest Mega-Mosque

October 13, 2016

Romania: Lawsuit Launched to Stop Bucharest Mega-Mosque, Gatestone Institute, Soeren Kern, October 13, 2016

The original deal called for a “mutual exchange” in which Romania would build a new Orthodox Church in Istanbul, while Turkey would build the mosque in Bucharest. In July 2015, however, Prime Minister Victor Ponta revealed that the Romanian government had abandoned the Istanbul church project because it is “not allowed under Turkish law.” Ponta approved the Bucharest mosque project anyway, saying it was a multicultural symbol of Romania’s acceptance of the Muslim community.

Ponta’s decision to approve the mosque, which will mimic Ottoman-era architecture, was greeted with outrage in a country that was under Ottoman Turkish domination for nearly five centuries until 1877.

“This plan is not about worship, it is about marking the territory of their authority through a monument.” – Ozgur Kazim Kivanc, a Turkish activist opposed to Erdoğan’s destruction of public commons to build mosques.

“Once Islam enters a land, that land becomes Islamic and Muslims have the duty to liberate it someday. Spain, for example, is Islamic land, and so is Eastern Europe: Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia…” – Omar Bakri Muhammad, a prominent Sunni Islamist cleric.

“We consider the disposal of free land which, ironically, belonged to the family of Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu, who was beheaded by the Turks on August 15, 1714, to be a betrayal of the Romanian people.” – Pending lawsuit calling on the court to annul the government’s grant of free city land for the mosque project.

Opponents of a proposed Turkish mega-mosque in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, have filed a lawsuit against the government in an effort to halt the project. The court is set to begin hearing the case on October 14.

The lawsuit seeks to reverse a June 2015 decision by the Romanian prime minister at the time, Victor Ponta, to approve construction of what could become the largest mosque in Eastern Europe — second only to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul — on a large tract of city-owned land in northern Bucharest.

The property, valued at more than four million euros ($4.4 million), is being provided for free by the Romanian government, while the construction costs, estimated at three million euros ($3.3 million), are being paid for by Turkey.

Ponta said the mosque will reap economic benefits for Romania because Turkey is the country’s leading non-EU trading partner. The mosque’s critics, including an array of Romanian academics, historians, politicians, anti-immigration groups and even some Muslims, counter that not only will it increase Turkish influence over Romania, it will also encourage Muslim immigration to the country.

The Bucharest mosque is the result of more than a decade of talks between the Romanian and Turkish governments. The original deal called for a “mutual exchange” in which Romania would build a new Orthodox Church in Istanbul, while Turkey would build the mosque in Bucharest.

In July 2015, however, Ponta revealed that the Romanian government had abandoned the Istanbul church project because it is “not allowed under Turkish law.” Ponta approved the Bucharest mosque project anyway, saying it was a multicultural symbol of Romania’s acceptance of the Muslim community.

Ponta’s decision to approve the mosque, which will mimic Ottoman-era architecture, was greeted with outrage in a country that was under Ottoman Turkish domination for nearly five centuries until 1877.

“Turkey attempts a symbolic conquest of Europe through these mosques,” said Tudor Ionescu, leader of the anti-immigration Noua Dreaptă (New Right) party. “I don’t know why we are the recipients of such a ‘blessing.'” Noua Dreaptă has organized protests against the project where people have chanted, “Romania is not a Turkish province.”

1945Romanians protest against a proposed Turkish mega-mosque in Bucharest, April 10, 2016. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

Critics say the large size of the mosque is out of proportion to the small size of Bucharest’s Muslim population. The 13,000 square meter (140,000 square foot) project, to be situated near the Romexpo trade fair grounds, includes a mosque for 2,000 worshippers, a Koran school, a library and a recreational center.

Bucharest is home to around 9,000 Muslims who are being served by ten mosques scattered throughout the city. The Muslim population of Romania is 65,000, or less than one percent of the country’s population of 19.5 million. Most are ethnic Turks and Tatars living in the Dobrogea region of eastern Romania.

In an interview with Balkan Insight, historian Ionut Cojocaru said:

“It is a bit surprising, building such a big mosque in a country where the number of Muslims is very small. This is just a sign of Turkey’s neo-Ottoman policy, which is designed to promote its economic and political interests all around the Balkans.”

Turkey has been on a mega-mosque building spree across the Balkans and Eastern Europe as part of an effort by Ankara to expand its influence — and its brand of Islam — in the region.

In interviews with Balkan specialist Michael Bird, several observers said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s international mosque-building program is part of a plan to project Turkey as the pre-eminent Muslim nation.

“Ultimately every mosque abroad with a Turkish brand name seems to contribute to the discourse of Turkey as a leading Islamic power,” said Kerem Oktem, Professor of Modern Turkey at the University of Graz.

Ozgur Kazim Kivanc, an activist opposed to Erdoğan’s destruction of public commons to build mosques, added:

“The Roman Empire used to build temples on the places they took over to remind people of their conquest. We believe the instinct is the same. Places of worship are not compulsory for a belief system to spread — especially in Islam. This plan is not about worship, it is about marking the territory of their authority through a monument.”

Former Romanian President Traian Basescu worries that the Bucharest mosque could fuel Islamic extremism in the country. He has said the mosque project is “irresponsible” and a threat to national security. On Facebook he wrote:

“Perhaps you cannot imagine a subway station in Bucharest, during rush hour, where a young man would blow himself up in the name of Allah. Or perhaps your intelligence cannot help you imagine young Romanians who have failed in life being sent off to training camps in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan and brought back to Europe in order to bring us the benefits of the Islamic State.”

Islamic State has repeatedly stated that Romania and other parts of Eastern Europe and the Balkans are part of its “pan-Islamic Caliphate.” Omar Bakri Muhammad, a prominent Sunni Islamist cleric who has recruited British jihadis for Islamic State, has alleged that Romania is Islamic territory. In an interview with the Bulgarian daily 24 Chasa (24 Hours), he said:

“Once Islam enters a land, that land becomes Islamic and Muslims have the duty to liberate it someday. Spain, for example, is Islamic land, and so is Eastern Europe: Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia…”

Basescu has also said he believes the mosque — the first purpose-built mosque in the Romanian capital (the existing places of Muslim worship in the city are buildings converted into mosques or prayer rooms) — is not actually meant for Bucharest’s Muslim population, but for Muslim migrants who will arrive in the years ahead.

During a visit to Romania in April 2015, President Erdoğan said the mosque will be the “the most beautiful expression of dialogue and solidarity between the two countries.”

A Romanian Muslim leader, however, expressed skepticism about Turkey’s intentions. “We heard about it on TV, like everyone else,” he said. “We are Romanian Muslims, but now the Turkish are coming and they get the land. When they complete the building, they won’t even allow us there. So we are sold, thrown out.”

During an official visit to Turkey in March 2016, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis tried to reassure Erdoğan that the mosque project is moving forward, despite mounting opposition at home. Commenting on the trip, the daily România Liberă wrote:

“Apparently Iohannis demanded nothing but a measly Orthodox chapel that will probably be built somewhere on the outskirts of Istanbul in exchange for the construction of the mosque…. Erdoğan has inherited from the Ottomans the skill of making his guests feel more important than they are. … Iohannis was welcomed with a military ceremony including the firing of 21 cannon salvoes which only sultans offer their guests. … In the end, however, Erdoğan will despise him for letting himself be tricked and making it so easy for him to turn the president of an EU state into a vassal of his court.”

Some Romanian politicians are now calling for a referendum on the mosque. More than 90% of the public is opposed to the project, according to an online survey conducted by the mainstream newspaper Gândul.

Meanwhile, the pending lawsuit calls on the court to annul the government’s grant of free city land for the mosque project. The lawsuit states:

“We consider the disposal of free land which, ironically, belonged to the family of Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu, who was beheaded by the Turks on August 15, 1714, to be a betrayal of the Romanian people. In the current context in which all of Europe is being brought to its knees by terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists, we are entitled to fear the establishment of Islamic learning schools. We believe the Romanian state is unable to ensure the security of its citizens, and approving a mega-mosque in Romania could set a precedent with unintended catastrophic consequences.”

BRUTAL MURDER: Trans Rights Advocate Raped, Burned Alive

August 22, 2016

BRUTAL MURDER: Trans Rights Advocate Raped, Burned Alive, Counter Jihad, August 22, 2016

Hande Kader was 22 years old.  Kader made a living through what Buzzfeed gently refers to as “sex work,” but was not in any sense ashamed of it.  Rather, Kader was an outspoken advocate for transgender rights and regularly appeared in public to appeal for those rights.  On the 12th of August, Kader was raped and burned alive.

Turkey recently had a shadow report submitted for United Nations inquiry regarding the Turkish culture of violence targeting gays, lesbians, and transgender citizens.  Dozens of murders have targeted these communities.  Turkish politics have been swinging in the direction of Islamist parties in the same period, and since the purge following a coup attempt last month those moves towards political Islam will be strongly cemented.  Islamist parties generally call for strict enforcement of Islam’s sexual mores as codified in traditional understandings of sharia.

Yet the submitted United Nations report does not mention the word “Islam” even one time, nor the word “Sharia.”  For those who prefer to make the distinction between sharia and fiqh, which not all Islamists do, the word “fiqh” does not appear either.  The submitted report, which was compiled by a set of LGBT advocates, does mention that the Turkish military continues to use an old version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that codified homosexuality as a mental disorder.  They do not speculate on what would cause Turkish military psychologists to refuse to accept the revisions to the DSM, now generations old, that changed this understanding of homosexuality.  Even if you think the connection between codified religious law and a refusal to move off the old DSM is not obvious, surely it is a question that deserves to be asked.  Yet even these LGBT organizations refuse to ask the question.

A similar but far lighter story played out this weekend in the United States.  There lesbian newscaster Sally Kohn denied the connection between sharia and violence against her community.  A satirical petition began to get her to spend a week without guards in a sharia-compliant city:

A lot of right-wing nazi bigots are saying Sally Kohn is an idiot for showing support for Sharia Law, especially considering that she is a gay woman. As progressives, we know both Sharia Law and Muslims are tolerant and very LGBTQ friendly.

In order to show how LGBTQ friendly the Sharia, and it’s practitioners, are, Sally Kohn should spend a week’s holiday proudly displaying her homosexuality in Raqqa/Riyadh or any other place where Sharia is the law of the land, without guards of course, to show how safe, and how pro LGBTQ these practitioners of Sharia Law are.

Kohn’s response to this petition was instructive.  She said that she opposes what she characterized as “authoritarian right wing extremism” in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.  However, she said, there were at least two non-Muslim nations on the list of nations in which homosexuality is punished by death.  Likewise, there were several Muslim majority nations in which homosexuality is not punished by death.  (Sometimes, she did not mention, it is merely punished with prison.)  Thus, she denied any necessary connection between sharia and violence against LGBT citizens.

Rather, she would like to try to paint this as an issue of a broad political left versus a broad political right — broad enough that it is somehow sensible to speak of “authoritarian right wing extremism” in Iran and Saudi Arabia as being like right wing politics anywhere else.

Perhaps Kohn should investigate her assumption here by checking with Hillary Clinton, whom Kohn has endorsedin the Presidential election.  Yet according to a report by Paul Sperry, Clinton’s liberal attitudes on sexual rights turn out to be constrained — just when she’s speaking to audiences in places like Saudi Arabia.

[I]n 2010, Huma Abedin arranged for then-Secretary of State Clinton to speak alongside Abedin’s hijab-wearing mother at an all-girls college in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. According to a transcript of the speech, Clinton said Americans have to do a better job of getting past “the stereotypes and the mischaracterizations” of the oppressed Saudi woman. She also assured the audience of burqa-clad girls that not all American girls go “around in a bikini bathing suit.”

At no point in her long visit there, which included a question-and-answer session, did this so-called champion of women’s rights protest the human rights violations Saudi women suffer under the Shariah laws that Abedin’s mother actively promotes. Nothing about the laws barring women from driving or traveling anywhere without male “guardians.”

What does Hillary Clinton know that Kohn does not, that causes Clinton to agree that bikinis are shameful and unworthy of female dignity when speaking to an Islamist audience?  What does she know that causes her to avoid raising these most obvious of issues, or to challenge sharia’s legitimate power to force the submission of women as well as LGBT citizens?  Clinton has no trouble challenging American “right wing extremists.”  Doesn’t that suggest that there’s an important difference here, one that explains both why the oppression is so much stronger in Islamist nations and also why even ordinarily outspoken liberals like Clinton are afraid to challenge it there?

One can understand the hesitance of the LGBT groups in Turkey to raise the issue, as they might be burned alive.  Kohn and Clinton have no such excuse.  If they are not going to provide aid and comfort to these LGBT groups in Turkey, who will?  Would Donald Trump?

Did Erdogan Stage the Coup?

July 20, 2016

Did Erdogan Stage the Coup?, Clarion Project, Meira Svirsky and William Reed, July 20, 2016

turkey coup busA leader of the ‘coup’ is arrested by Erdogan’s intelligence agency. (Photo: Video screenshot)

The European Union commissioner in charge of Turkey’s bid, Johannes Hahn, to join the EU echoed these sentiments, saying, “It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage,” Hahn said. “I’m very concerned. It is exactly what we feared.”

[M]ost Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey of which there are 2.7 million, are sympathizers of ISIS. “As opposed to what is thought,” Gezici said, “60 percent of the Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey have come to Turkey fleeing Syrian head of state Bashar al-Assad. And a large majority of this group sees ISIS as a savior; they have sympathy for it.”

*********************

In the aftermath of the attempted coup in Turkey Friday night, thousands of teachers as well as police, military personnel, judges, governors and more have been dismissed.  The list includes:

  • 21,000 private teachers have licenses removed
  • 15,000 suspended from education ministry
  • 8,000 police officers detained or suspended
  • 6,000 soldiers detained
  • 1,500 staff at Ministry of Finance dismissed
  • 2,745 judges dismissed
  • 1,577 deans – Education board demands resignation
  • 492 sacked from Religious Affairs Directorate
  • 399 from Ministry of Family and Social Policies stripped of responsibilities
  • 257 fired from the prime minister’s office
  • 100 intelligence officials sacked
  • 47 district governors dismissed
  • 30 provincial governors dismissed
  • 20 news websites blocked

In addition, public sector employees have reportedly been forbidden from leaving the country.

The alacrity with which the above thousands  were either arrested or purged from their position, has led many to assume that Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan had prepared the lists before the coup.

The European Union commissioner in charge of Turkey’s bid, Johannes Hahn, to join the EU echoed these sentiments, saying, “It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage,” Hahn said. “I’m very concerned. It is exactly what we feared.”

Moreover, many dubious circumstances surrounding the coup have led others to question whether the coup was, in fact staged, to allow Erdogan to execute these purges and declare a state of emergency where authoritarian rule will be imposed on the country.

These circumstances include the fact that the coup’s plotters:

Failed to seize power

  • Neither Erdogan nor any members of the cabinet or high-ranking officials of Erdogan’s Islamist AK party were detained or killed.
  • Sent commandos to the hotel where Erdogan was staying after he had already left.
  • Erdogan’s $600 million presidential palace was not attacked or occupied.
  • Erdogan’s plane was not intercepted or shot down as he flew back to Istanbul, despite the fact that top generals in the Air Force were involved in the plot.
  • Coup plotters occupied Ataturk International Airport but left before Erdogan’s plane landed.
  • Attacked the parliament building, which was all but empty at the time.

Failed to seize control of media

  • After initially taking control of the state’s TRT station and CNN Turk, the plotters immediately relinquished control of these news outlets back to the government, which allowed Erdogan to leverage appeal to his followers to take to the streets in support of the government.

Whether the coup was staged or Erdogan received a tip-off about it, as other have suggested, he was able to bring the Islamist “street” out in force to support him. The fact that the Turkish public seems to be becoming increasingly radicalized is borne out by a recent poll taken in Turkey in May of this year.

According to a May poll of the Gezici Research Company, close to 1 in 5 people in Turkey (19.7 percent) support the Islamic State and over 23 percent have sympathy for it.

The poll, which was conducted face-to-face with 2,455 Turkish citizens in 24 cities,  also indicates that Turkish support for ISIS has increased 100 % in the last 2 years.

The owner of the research company that conducted the poll, Murat Gezici, explained the surprising results. “95 percent of Turkey’s population is Muslim. And a large majority of them are pious and conservative,” Gezici said.

“At the Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, a German tourist group was targeted. In Suruc, leftists were targeted. The attack at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport took place at its international terminal,” he added. “The conservatives in Turkey see that Muslims are not targeted in the attacks that are told by official sources to have been carried out by ISIS.”

Gezici also said that most Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey of which there are 2.7 million, are sympathizers of ISIS. “As opposed to what is thought,” Gezici said, “60 percent of the Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey have come to Turkey fleeing Syrian head of state Bashar al-Assad. And a large majority of this group sees ISIS as a savior; they have sympathy for it.”

In 2015, the Gezici Research Company was raided by government inspectors after releasing an opinion poll and its pollsters were detained after releasing results of an opinion poll showing that Turkey’s ruling party would losing votes in an upcoming election.

“Police told our surveyors that they were not authorized for the field study. In reality, we have had all licenses for political, economic and market studies since 2011,” said Gezici at the time.

Meanwhile, jihadi propaganda is becoming more and more common in the Turkish Islamist media. In just one example, Misvak, an Islamist “humor” magazine known to be close to the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party), recently published a cartoon praising the Islamic State.

These current statistics as well as recent events challenge the myth that Turkey is a secular, democratic state worthy of Western support, NATO membership and an appropriate candidate for EU membership.

In truth, the history of Turkey is not foreign to Islamic State-like atrocities  and has witnessed tremendous persecution of religious minorities – including the Yazidis, Christians, Alevis, Jews and others.

From the 1915 Armenian genocide, to the 1937 Dersim Alevi massacres, the 1955 anti-Greek pogroms in Istanbul, the 1978 massacre of Alevis in Maras and the 1980 massacre of Alevis in Corum, among others, many Turkish governments and a considerable part of the Turkish society have carried out brutal crimes against their minority citizens.

Religious violence is largely endemic to political Islam. Doubtlessly, the Islamic State is a huge threat to human rights and liberties worldwide, but Islamist crimes should not be restricted to this terror group only.

Analyzing the history of Islamist crimes against non-Muslims – both in Turkey and the rest of the Muslim world – as well as the Islamic doctrine of jihad would give us a better insight into why many Muslims can so easily feel sympathy for a horrific group like ISIS and why many pious Muslims can even see ISIS as a source of humor.