Posted tagged ‘Turkey post-coup’

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Slams American Fight Against Terror During July 4th Celebration

July 10, 2017

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Slams American Fight Against Terror During July 4th Celebration, Washington Free Beacon  July 10, 2017

US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass delivers a statement to journalists in Ankara on April 7, 2016. / AFP / ADEM ALTAN (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

“If we have learned anything from last year and the violence of this year, it is that the only answer to terrorism and violence is justice and tolerance,” he said.

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U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass criticized the American fight against terrorism during a July Fourth celebration hosted by the U.S. consulate in Ankara, claiming that an “overly broad” definition of terrorism has hampered U.S. efforts to combat extremists and eroded international confidence in America.

Bass, a career foreign service officer who was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2014, urged Turkey to “avoid making the mistakes the U.S. made” in its fight against radical terrorists, telling those in attendance at an Independence Day reception “that rushing to justice or making an overly broad definition of terrorism can erode fundamental freedoms and undermine public confidence in government.”

Bass’s comments have come under scrutiny by Trump administration insiders and regional experts, who told the Washington Free Beacon that Turkey’s recent crackdown on scores of political dissidents in no way reflects America’s own battles in the region.

Insiders are viewing Bass’s criticism of U.S. policy on terrorism as a veiled rejection of President Donald Trump, who has come under fire from multiple U.S. officials who rose to prominence under Obama and are still serving in government.

For example, Dana Shell Smith, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Qatar until she resigned in June, came under scrutiny earlier this year when she signaled distain for representing the Trump administration while still serving as a U.S. official abroad.

“We support the Turkish government’s ongoing efforts to bring to justice those who were responsible for the terrible events of a year ago,” Bass said in comments recorded by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, referring to a recent coup attempt in Turkey that resulted in the imprisonment and detention of more than 100,000 political opponents.

“In our own experience dealing with terrorism in recent years, in the U.S., we have learned some painful lessons,” Bass said, drawing parallels between Turkey’s crackdown and U.S. efforts to fight terrorists. “Among those lessons, we have learned that rushing to justice or making an overly broad definition of terrorism can erode fundamental freedoms and undermine public confidence in government. We learned those lessons the hard way.”

“It is our hope that our friends in Turkey will avoid making some of the same mistakes that we have made,” Bass was quoted as saying.

Bass’s public criticism of the U.S. fight against terrorism has raised eyebrows among Trump administration insiders and foreign policy experts, who noted a recent trend in which senior State Department stalwarts, many of whom served under Obama, have been willing to criticize U.S. policy and the Trump administration both on record and anonymously in the press.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and Middle East expert, chided Bass for comparing the U.S. fight against terrorism to Turkey’s recent coup attempt, in which thousands were jailed for taking up arms against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Let me get this straight: a democratic debate about the Patriot Act is the moral equivalent of jailing tens of thousands of people, and firing a hundred thousand more?” Rubin asked. “At the very least, the ambassador’s remarks reflect a culture problem within the State Department where criticizing U.S. policy is a virtue rather than a liability. Such moral equivalence insults all those in prison without evidence or real charges and hemorrhages both credibility and leverage.”

Bass also maintained in his remarks that the only way to combat terrorism is to promote “justice and tolerance.”

“If we have learned anything from last year and the violence of this year, it is that the only answer to terrorism and violence is justice and tolerance,” he said.

Sources close to the Trump administration’s foreign policy team told the Free Beacon that Bass’s remarks reflect an attitude of opposition to Trump among senior U.S. foreign service officers who served under Obama.

“Like many other officials who rose to prominence during the Obama administration, Ambassador Bass still hasn’t adjusted to the last election and what it means,” said one veteran Middle East analyst who works with the White House on these regional issues.

“We haven’t been too tough on terrorism,” the source said. “President Trump was elected in part because he was clear that, if anything, we’ve been way too weak. In any case July Fourth is an occasion for emphasizing America as the world’s beacon of freedom, not apologizing for real and imagined faults.”

State Department spokesmen did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment on Bass’s remarks by press time.

This is the Face of Free Speech in Turkey

January 4, 2017

This is the Face of Free Speech in Turkey, Clarion Project, Meira Svirsky, January 4, 2016

barbaros-sansal-hpBarbaros Sansal after the attack (Photo: Video screenshot)

Renowned Turkish fashion designer Barbaros Sansal, beaten and bloody, is in Turkish custody after being deported from northern Cyprus.

Sansal, an outspoken critic of the ruling Islamist AK party, was forced out of the self-declared state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus after making a video on New Year’s Eve deemed to be insulting to Turkey.

In the video, which was uploaded before the jihadi attack on an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people, Sansal rails against the “scores of journalists in prison,” “corruption and bribes” and the increased Islamization of the country:

While scores of journalists are in prison, while children are sexually harassed, raped, while corruption and brides [sic?] are everywhere, radical Islamist are distributing shit to you in the streets. Are you still celebrating the New Year? I am not … You know what I will do? I will drink all the drinks in this room and bar. I will drink all of them! Will not leave you a single drop. I will take all my dollars to Switzerland. I will not leave a single penny [in Turkey]. OK? On the other hand, I am in Cyprus. The [North] Cyprus is now in the New Year, as they follow Turkey because of pressure. There is still an hour for the Cyprus Republic to enter the New Year. I will go there and I will celebrate there as well. I will drink there, too. I will drink everything. OK, baby? I am not even kissing you. You carry on with your celebration … in this disgrace, misery and dirt. Drown in your shit, Turkey!

On his Facebook page, Ari Murad, a Kurdish human rights activist and filmmaker, reported that “after the video went viral, Sansal was detained by Turkish Cypriot authorities and then extradited to Turkey. While Sansal was being ‘extradited’ to Turkey, Turkish state news agency AA informed readers of the flight airline and hour of departure.”

Other media picked up the gauntlet as well. A tweet by CNN Turk’s presenter Beste Uyanik said Sansal “must be cut down to size” and “taught his limits,” when he arrives in Turkey.

And so he was.

Waiting on the tarmac was a mob (ostensibly made up of Turkish baggage handlers). Brutal video footage of the attack was captured on a smartphone. Sansal can be seen walking down the stairs of the airplane before falling or being kicked or pushed down them, at which point the mob sets upon him until police decide to whisk his bloodied body away into a waiting car.

Commenting on the attack, the mayor of Ankara Melih Gokcek, tweeted, “Turkish Nation reacted against him while he was getting off the plane. Don’t irritate People Barbaros!” The mayor uploaded the video footage of the attack to his Twitter account as well.

Since the failed coup last summer, 41,000 Turkish citizens have been arrested for suspected links to Islamist cleric Fethulah Gulen, Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s rival and on whom he has blamed the uprising. Tens of thousands more have been relieved of their jobs – in academia, security forces, the judicial system and more.

Erdogan and his Islamist party have used the coup as a carte blanche to clamp down on everyone from secularists to human rights activists, Kurds and anyone else thought to be standing in the way of his perceived goal of re-instituting the glory of the Ottoman Empire.

Along the way, freedom of speech be damned.

As one twitter user Ankarali Jan said succinctly, “The treatment of Barbaros Şansal is intended as a warning to anyone in Turkey with a dissenting opinion, anyone who stands out from the herd.”

Another tweeted, “The treatment of Barbaros Sansal should be a wake-up call to all countries if Turkey requests someone’s extradition. They will not be safe.”

Sansal’s lawyer said his client was injured in his back, kidneys and crotch in the mob attack. He was taken directly to a police station where he was interrogated and formally arrested for “inciting hatred and animosity among the public” and for “insulting” the public, both crimes in Turkey since 2005.

The law has been used to prosecute those deemed to be insulting the president (even children as young as 12, 13 and 16 have faced prison time for this crime). One can be sure it will be used in full force against Sansal.

Erdogan’s true ambitions

November 24, 2016

Erdogan’s true ambitions, Israel Hayom, Dr. Ephraim Herrera, November 24, 2016

(Please see also, Turkey’s Brain Drain — DM)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s stances have always approximated those of the Muslim Brotherhood, and, in keeping with that, he protects them. Over the last year, he has strongly condemned the death sentence against ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. He said: “Morsi is the president of Egypt, not [current Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah] el-Sissi.” Hamas representatives feel at home in Turkey. As early as 2012, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was given a royal welcome by Erdogan and the Turkish foreign minister, and Turkey vowed to work toward having Hamas removed from Western terrorist organization blacklists. So his statement to Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan this week, saying that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, is not surprising at all.

In 2009, Erdogan stormed out of a Davos World Economic Forum panel while hurling blame at late President Shimon Peres: “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill,” he said. Last summer, Erdogan hosted Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal, further proof of the total cooperation between Turkey and the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip. It appears that it was from Hamas’ office in Istanbul that the cruel murders of three Israeli teenagers near Hebron in 2014 were planned as well as the murder of the Henkin couple last year. Hamas is grateful to the Turkish president. Moreover, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (to which Hamas belongs), sees Erdogan as the next caliph of the Muslim world, the one who will lead Islam’s rule over the entire world.

He has said the following in media interviews: “The Union of Muslim Scholars declares that the caliphate must be established in Istanbul, because it is the [historical] capital of the caliphates. … The new Turkey brings together religion and state, old and new, Arab and non-Arab and unites the ummah [global Muslim community] in Africa, Asia, Europe, the United States and everywhere. The man who is bringing this about in Turkey is Recep Tayyip Erdogan. … He is the leader that knows his God, knows himself, knows his people, knows the ummah and knows the world. It is up to you to stand by his side, to pledge allegiance to him and to tell him: ‘Step forward.'”

In light of this, it is no wonder that Erdogan’s opinions on Israel perfectly line up with the Muslim Brotherhood’s stance, which is not bound by logic. For them, Israel behaves toward the Palestinians the same way that Hitler behaved toward the Jews in the Holocaust. It’s also no wonder that “Mein Kampf” is a best-seller in Turkey.

Turkey belongs to NATO and appears to be a moderate state. However, anyone who follows Erdogan’s policies will see that he succeeded, following the failed coup, in cruelly suppressing any domestic opposition, while firing tens of thousands of state employees, imprisoning journalists, shutting down opposition media outlets and violently fighting the Kurds.

Europe, in its innocence, cooperates with Turkey, which committed to stopping the waves of Muslim immigration to Europe. But the price tag set by Erdogan is high and dangerous: visa-free entry permits to Europe for Turkish citizens. If this agreement comes to fruition, the number of Turkish Muslims living in Western Europe is expected to grow quickly. It has been estimated that there are between 2 million and 2.5 million Turks living in Germany and another 2 million altogether in France, Holland, Britain and Austria. It seems they have more to lose than to gain.

The lesson for Israel is clear: Beware.

Turkey’s Brain Drain

November 24, 2016

Turkey’s Brain Drain, Counter Jihad, November 23, 2016

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The Islamist tyranny from the Erdogan regime is stripping Turkey of many of its best minds.

One of the categories here at CounterJihad is “Colonization by Immigration.”  Normally we are thinking about the effect on cultures and institutions in the West of importing millions from poorly-educated nations with intensely political, radical Islamist cultures.  Today we’re going to talk about another aspect of immigration from the Islamic world, though, which is the way in which it can be used to make the Islamist nations safer for Islamism.

In this case, the immigrants aren’t poorly-educated at all.  They’re the very best that Turkey has to offer.  In forcing them out, President Erdogan is undercutting the future of his nation — but also the danger of the young becoming well-enough educated to see how badly he is leading their country.

Education has been a notable target for the Turkish government since July 15’s coup attempt. Since then, the government has shut down 15 universities and around 1,000 secondary education institutions….

“They fired nearly 3,000 to 4,000 people. If they could, if they had their passports, all of them would leave the country. I believe that nearly all academics that speak fluent English, French or German – those who can continue their work in another language – will leave Turkey within a six-month period.”

We have been following this issue for months here.  Erdogan has been involved in a march against Western values of free inquiry and free expression.  Academics who signed a petition calling for an end to the war crimes against the Kurdish population have been rounded up by his government.

The potential damage of watching Turkey slip further into Islamist tyranny can hardly be overstated.  It certainly includes a threat to the NATO alliance, of which Turkey is a long-time part.

Yet the damage goes beyond the damage that will be suffered by the West.  Turkey’s youth, likewise, are being badly punished in the name of political Islam.  Halil Ibrahim Yenigun, interviewed in by DW, was suspended and then fired from his university.

“Most of us want to return home and pass on our experience to the young people of Turkey. That’s all we wanted to do. Before all this, there were many good academics… [W]e wanted to contribute to the education of young people…. These are people who attended state schools and then studied with taxpayers’ money. They went on to do doctorates overseas. And just as they’ve come back to give back to their country, you pluck them away from contributing to the youth of the nation. This is treason. They’re betraying our country’s future. They’re robbing the young of a good education.”

Perversely, Erdogan is encouraging the emigration of this class in order to make it easier to “colonize” his own universities.  It can be expected that they will become bastions of narrow opinion, and teach lockstep obedience to Erdogan’s personal authority.  At least a generation of young Turks will pay a heavy price for his attempt to romantacize the caliphate.  So too shall all of us who could once look upon Turkey as a friend and ally.

Turkey’s Descent into Islamist Tyranny Deepens

October 31, 2016

Turkey’s Descent into Islamist Tyranny Deepens, Counter Jihad, October 31, 2016

turkey-islamic-1

Turkey’s military forces have just seized the Hagia Sophia, appointing a full-time imam to lead Islamic prayers there after 80 years of it being held as a neutral place for both Christians and Muslims.  The move is symbolic, but shows clearly the designs of Turkey’s Islamist president.

The Turkish government under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used the abortive coup of this summer to deepen its control over every aspect of Turkish life, but especially the media and education.  Over ten thousand public servants have been purged from the government in recent days, raising the total figure to over a hundred thousand — some 37,000 of whom have been arrested. Erdoğan has pressed the Turkish parliament to reinstate the death penalty so that he can begin disposing of those he has identified as his enemies.

“Our government will take this proposal [on capital punishment] to parliament. I am sure parliament will approve it, and when it comes back to me, I will ratify it…Soon, soon, don’t worry. It’s happening soon, God willing. The West says this, the West says that. Excuse me, but what counts is not what the West says. What counts is what my people say.”

According to CounterJihad’s sources, the detained who are subjected to trial must submit to having all of their conversations with their lawyers recorded whenever the prosecution requests it.  Such recordings are of course admissible as evidence against the client — or the lawyer, if he comes to be considered an enemy of the state from working too hard to defend people already classified as ‘enemies of the state.’

The detained include especially members of opposition media.  The leadership of the Cumhuriyet daily newspaper, which is nearly a century old, were arrested and their laptops seized by the police.  Their paper is not only critical of Erdoğan , but occasionally supportive of the Kurdish minority.  That appears to be grounds for arrest in Turkey now:  even two mayors were seized by order of a Turkish court on suspicion of being sympathetic to Kurdish militants.  In addition to the attacks on the Cumhuriyet daily, 15 Kurdish news outlets have been shuttered by order of the state.  A pro-Kurdish television station was raided by police and forced off the air.

In addition to the media, the state has moved to consolidate control over its system of higher education.  Some 1267 academics who signed a “Peace Petition” last January have been removed from their jobs according to CounterJihad’s sources, and several have been arrested and charged with “terroristic acts” for signing or forwarding that petition.  Our sources tell us that under the new laws, President Erdoğan must personally approve all new university presidents.

At the same time, the Turkish government is pressing NATO to end its naval mission aimed at containing migration flows across the Mediterranean sea.  Turkey claims that the mission is no longer needed, but the siege of Mosul is expected to produce at least a million new refugees in the coming months.  The Russian operations against Aleppo are likewise expected to produce new waves of migrants.

Turkey appears to be using its position within NATO to advance Russia’s interest here, which is to flood Europe with migrants in order to overburden European governments.  That will produce a Europe less able to resist Russian expansion into Eastern Europe.  Turkey and Russia recently signed a major energy deal, clearing the way for at least an economic alliance.  Erd also moved to abandon daylight savings time, a shift that places Turkey in the same time zone as Moscow.  Russia for its part appears to be negotiating a peace between Turkey and Iran on a partition of Iraq, one that would give Turkey greater control over its Kurdish problems.  If Russia succeeds in peeling Turkey off from NATO, it would invalidate the alliance as NATO requires unanimous decisions for all military decisions.

CAIR, Awad Continue Aggressively Shilling for Turkey

September 10, 2016

CAIR, Awad Continue Aggressively Shilling for Turkey, Investigative Project on Terrorism, September 9, 2016

1822Parliamentarians from Turkey’s AK Party meet with CAIR officials earlier this week.

Awad was interviewed by Turkey’s Andolu news agency after this week’s meeting, which he called important in expressing “the support of the Muslim community for democracy and the rule of law in Turkey,” an IPT translation of his remarks shows.

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A delegation from Turkey’s parliament came to Washington this week to make the case for extraditing Fethullah Gülen, an opposition figure living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

The Turkish government alleges Gülen was behind July’s failed coup attempt and President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan describes his extradition as a “priority.” Gülen denies any role in the coup and U.S. officials have said the Turkish evidence presented so far is not persuasive.

According to a Turkish press account, the delegation’s second meeting was with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its executive director, Nihad Awad.

CAIR is a tax-exempt charity which presents itself as an American Civil Liberties Union devoted to protecting American Muslims from discrimination in housing, employment and other civil rights.

The visit from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) delegation, however, shows CAIR’s significant emphasis on influencing American foreign policy. CAIR is not a registered lobbying organization and isn’t registered as a foreign agent. Federal law requires registration by people or groups “before performing any activities for the foreign principal.”

CAIR routinely inserts itself into political debates on behalf of foreign entities, including a full campaign aimed at criticizing Israel during the 2009 and 2014 Gaza wars while staying silent about Hamas. Its Detroit director told a rally that being “defenders of the Palestinian struggle” was part of CAIR’s mission.

Awad was interviewed by Turkey’s Andolu news agency after this week’s meeting, which he called important in expressing “the support of the Muslim community for democracy and the rule of law in Turkey,” an IPT translation of his remarks shows.

“We believe in the need for more Turkish visitors and delegations to come to the United States to talk about their experiences and explain their views,” Awad said, “because there is a view against them and a pathological fear of Turkey here. The Turkish government must be aware of the need to employ more efforts to explain what is happening (in) Turkey to American public opinion.”

There’s something pathological at play here, but it isn’t some imaginary fear of Turkey. This is CAIR, an Islamist group created as part of a Muslim Brotherhood network in America, officially rushing to the aid of Turkey’s Islamist and increasingly authoritarian government, a government that itself has been increasingly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

In his comments, Awad publicly acknowledges what he advised an official Turkish government delegation in private to get the desired political outcome.

We previously reported on the immediate support American-Islamists organized for Erdoğan’s AKP immediately after the failed coup. While Erdoğan’s dedicated followers inside CAIR may be comfortable with his crackdown on dissent, a recent New York Times editorial hints many U.S. policy leaders are not.

They believe “that Mr. Erdogan’s roundup of coup plotters looks like an attempt to silence any opposition, that Turkey has behaved outrageously in failing to stop conspiracy theories depicting the United States as a co-conspirator in the coup attempt, that Turkey has produced little evidence to warrant Mr. Gulen’s extradition and that Mr. Erdogan’s autocratic behavior is making him an unreliable ally.”

He has proven unreliable in the fight against ISIS, too. He failed to stop the flow of foreign fighters using Turkey as a way-station to join ISIS and places his fight against pro-Western Kurds above the global threat posed by ISIS.

Erdoğan’s post-coup attempt arrest record, along with a media crackdown and allegations of torture, speak for themselves, if that’s what Awad thinks is part of the “pathological fear of Turkey.”

What it has to do with CAIR’s charitable mission is much murkier.

Turkey, Europe’s Little Problem

August 11, 2016

Turkey, Europe’s Little Problem, Gatestone InstituteBurak Bekdil, August 11, 2016

♦ Europe is giving signals, albeit slowly, that it may be waking up from the “Turkey-the-bridge” dream. Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmaier said that his country’s relations with Turkey have grown so bad the two countries have virtually “no basis” for talks.

♦ “Italy should be attending to the mafia, not my son,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Typically, he does not understand the existence of independent judiciary in a European country. He thinks, as in an Arab sheikdom, prosecutors are liable to drop charges on orders from the prime minister.

♦ “We know that the democratic standards are clearly not sufficient to justify [Turkey’s] accession [to the European Union].” — Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern.

Nations do not have the luxury, as people often do, of choosing their neighbors. Turkey, under the 14-year rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist governments, and neighboring both Europe and the Middle East, was once praised as a “bridge” between Western and Islamic civilizations. Its accession into the European Union (EU) was encouraged by most EU and American leaders. Nearly three decades after its official bid to join the European club, Turkey is not yet European but has become one of Europe’s problems.

Europe’s “Turkish problem” is not only about the fact that in a fortnight a bomb attack wrecked a terminal of the country’s biggest airport and a coup attempt killed nearly 250 people; nor is it about who rules the country. It is about the undeniable democratic deficit both in governance and popular culture.

In only the past couple of weeks, Turkey was in the headlines with jaw-dropping news. In Istanbul, a secretary at a daily newspaper was attacked by a group of people who accused her of “wearing revealing clothes and supporting the July 15 failed coup.” She was six months pregnant.

Also in Istanbul, a Syrian gay refugee was murdered: he had been beheaded and mutilated. One social worker helping LGBT groups said: “Police are doing nothing because he is Syrian and because he is gay.”

Turkey is dangerous not only for gays and refugees. A French tourist was left bloodied and beaten by Turkish nationalists after he refused to hold a Turkish flag. Grisly footage shows the gang, encouraged by Erdogan to patrol the streets on “democracy watch,” telling the man “You will be punched if you don’t hold the flag.” The tourist is alone and does not appear to speak Turkish.

Meanwhile Europe is giving signals, albeit slowly, that it may be waking up from the “Turkey-the-bridge” dream. Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmaier said that his country’s relations with Turkey have grown so bad the two countries have virtually “no basis” for talks. He said that Germany has serious concerns about mass arrests carried out by Turkish officials. According to Steinmaier, Turkey and Germany are like “emissaries from two different planets.” Steinmaier is right. He is also not the only European statesman who sees Turkey as alien.

1777Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmaier (right) said that his country’s relations with Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan have grown so bad the two countries have virtually “no basis” for talks.

Erdogan recently threatened Italy that its bilateral relations with Turkey could deteriorate if Italian prosecutors investigating Erdogan’s son, Bilal, for money laundering, proceeded with their probe. “Italy should be attending to the mafia, not my son,” Erdogan said. Typically, he does not understand the existence of independent judiciary in a European country. He thinks, as in an Arab sheikdom, prosecutors are liable to drop charges on orders from the prime minister.

Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, answered Erdogan in language Erdogan will probably will not understand: “Italy has an independent legal system and judges answer to the Italian constitution and not the Turkish president.”

In unusual European realism, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said that he would start a discussion among European heads of government to end EU membership talks with Turkey. He rightly called the accession talks “diplomatic fiction.” Kern said: “We know that the democratic standards are clearly not sufficient to justify [Turkey’s] accession.”

Even Turkish Cypriots on the divided island fear that Erdogan’s Islamization campaign may target their tiny statelet. On August 3, about 1,500 people from 80 groups spanning the political spectrum took to the streets in Nicosia to protest against “Turkey’s attempt to mold their secular culture into one that’s more in tune with Islamic norms.”

All of that inevitably makes Turkey an alien candidate waiting at Europe’s gates to join the club. According to a European survey, Turkey is the least-wanted potential EU member — even less wanted than Russia. Opposition to Turkish membership ranges from 54% (Norway) to 81% (Germany).

Celal Yaliniz, a little-known Turkish philosopher, likened Turks in the 1950s to “members of a ship’s crew who are running toward the west as their ship travelled east.” The Turks were not alone. Erdogan’s “liberal” Western supporters have been no different.

Erdogan-Gulen Power Struggle Divides European Turks

August 8, 2016

Erdogan-Gulen Power Struggle Divides European Turks, Investigative Project on Terrorism, August 8, 2016

(Please see also, Plotting Jihad in the Poconos—Who the Hell is Fethullah Gulen? — DM)

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Millions of European Turks – both immigrants and subsequent generations – ally themselves with the Gulenist movement, or Hizmet. While some call it a cult and claim it represents a zealous Islamic religious movement, others view it as a more moderate strain of Islam and praise Gulen for his interfaith initiatives, and for the hospitals, schools and universities he has founded internationally, including over 100 charter schools in the United States. But since the split between the two men, tensions have also emerged between pro-Gulen and pro-Erdogan groups that are far more virulent than the disputes between those who favor Hizmet and those who condemn it.

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On the night of July 15, members of the Turkish military stormed the state-run TRT news agency in Ankara and forced an anchorwoman to read a statement calling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “traitor.” Within moments, tanks began to drive menacingly through the streets of Ankara and Istanbul as military planes roared over Turkish skies. The Parliament was bombed. The fifth military coup in the history of modern Turkey had begun, taking even the most anti-government Turks by surprise.

But Erdogan regained complete control within hours, thanks to his fervent supporters who took to the streets in his defense. Throughout the night, pro- and anti-Erdogan military and civilians clashed across the country, leaving nearly 300 dead and 2,100 injured by morning.

The attempted coup and its aftermath, however, soon exploded into more than just a national crisis; it has had incendiary repercussions globally, particularly in the Turkish communities of Europe.

Erdogan declared a state of emergency July 16, and began cracking down on suspected members of the coup plot and their allies. By July 20, more than 45,000 people had been arrested, including 2,700 judges and 15,000 teachers. As Erdogan called for reinstating the death penalty, credible reports emerged of prisoners being tortured and raped.

In the meantime, tens of thousands of others have been fired from their jobs as the state takes over or shuts down nearly all the country’s media outlets – including three news agencies, 16 television channels, 45 newspapers and 15 magazines, Reutersreports. And on Monday, more than three weeks after the failed coup, Turkey recalled five senior diplomats from its embassy in The Hague.

All who have been sacked are accused of complicity in the coup, based on their (ostensible) ties to Fethullah Gulen, a powerful cleric now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Once one of Erdogan’s closest allies, Gulen has become his most despised enemy in recent years, thanks in large part to Gulen’s criticism of Erdogan during the 2013 Gezi Park demonstrations. Now Turkey’s president accuses Gulen of being behind the coup attempt, demands his extradition from the United States. Meantime, he continues his crackdown on the cleric’s followers.

But those followers are not just in Turkey, and neither are Tayyip Erdogan’s. Millions of European Turks – both immigrants and subsequent generations – ally themselves with the Gulenist movement, or Hizmet. While some call it a cult and claim it represents a zealous Islamic religious movement, others view it as a more moderate strain of Islam and praise Gulen for his interfaith initiatives, and for the hospitals, schools and universities he has founded internationally, including over 100 charter schools in the United States. But since the split between the two men, tensions have also emerged between pro-Gulen and pro-Erdogan groups that are far more virulent than the disputes between those who favor Hizmet and those who condemn it.

As a result, the clashes between the conflicting sides have spilled beyond the Turkish borders into Europe, and have now exploded since the coup. Often, they have been violent, with pro-Erdogan protesters hurling stones into the windows of Gulen organizations in Gelsenkirchen, Germany and Rotterdam, Holland, or calling to set fire to a building housing a Gulenist organization in Beringen, Belgium (“Burn them alive!” the protesters shouted.). Arsonists also attacked several Gulen buildings in the Netherlands.

In other instances, the attacks are quieter but more sinister: members of 70 different Gulen-affiliated groups in the Netherlands report receiving hate messages and death threats. People believed to support the movement – or who fail to support Erdogan – report being banned from mosques and refused entry to restaurants. Dutch children have told each other “I can’t talk to you anymore.” A number of Gulen followers have gone into hiding, fearing for their safety.

And in Germany, home to Europe’s largest Turkish community, estimated at nearly 3 million, some 30-40,000 Erdogan supporters marched through Cologne on July 31. And while the demonstrations went off without incident, they represent a chasm within the country – not just between Germans and Turks, but – as in the Netherlands – among the Turks themselves. Noted Deutsch-Welle‘s Gero Schliess in an editorial, “After the coup attempt in Turkey, divisions have emerged in this country that no one had seen for a long time – or hadn’t wanted to see. The failed coup and President Erdogan’s massive onslaught against civil rights have deeply divided the Turkish community in Germany. The split runs right through families and neighborhoods, regardless of social strata or profession.”

But at least as disturbing is the idea of 30-40,000 people marching in support of the man who has led the profoundly anti-democratic crackdown in Turkey. While it may be understandable to oppose a military coup, it is something else entirely to continue marching in support in light of the abuses that have followed. Moreover, according to Politico, the situation has also “reignited a decade-long debate in Germany about the Turkish state steering public opinion within the German-Turkish community through a web of lobbying groups, religious institutions, media outlets and public figures.”

Religious groups seem to be chief among those, such as the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, sponsored by the Turkish state. That Turkey is therefore subsidizing mosques in Germany demonstrates the strength not only of the country’s influence on the political visions of German Turks, but on their religious ideas as well. And in an increasingly Islamist Turkey, those ideas no longer reflect the secular, humanist values of Ataturk; rather, they are based on an increasingly strict vision of Sunni Islam in which the state and the mosque are one.

Other Turkish religious groups, including Milli Gorüs, an Islamist group headquartered in Cologne, are also believed to hold sway over European Turks, particularly in the Netherlands.

Behind them all, particularly in Belgium, is the Diyanet, the official Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs .

Ataturk created the Diyanet soon after the founding of the Turkish republic, to help ensure that imams preached moderate interpretations of Islam. They were critical to maintaining the separation between mosque and state. With the rise of Erdogan and his AK Party, however, it has served to do just the opposite: it now promotes Islamist views in Turkey and among the Turkish community abroad. As Istanbul-based journalist David Lepeska noted last year, the Diyanet‘s budget has quadrupled since 2006 to over $2 billion, with a 2015 budget allocation that was “40 percent more than the Ministry of the Interior’s and equal to those of the Foreign, Energy, and Culture and Tourism ministries combined.” In addition to presiding over Turkey’s own mosques, the directorate governs hundreds of mosques across Europe, has increased the number of religious classes in public schools, and, reports Lepeska, “runs a 24-hour television station, Diyanet television, available via satellite, cable, and YouTube, and manages a Facebook page (with nearly 230,000 fans), two Twitter accounts (more than 50,000 followers), and an Islamic lifestyle hotline.”

The result is a toxic mixture of religion and politics that could not be further from the secular ideals of the founder of modern Turkey. Add Erdogan’s and the AKP’s human rights abuses and dictatorial leanings to this and the cauldron boils hotter and more dangerous than ever. Whatever problems existed previously, the post-coup situation bears far too many parallels to the impulses and ideologies of radical Islamism: whoever does not support Erdogan becomes the enemy. And Erdogan, as the leader of Turkey, is the leader of the Diyanet.

The outcome is a kind of tribalism that already infects the rest of the Middle East: to be outside the Erdogan support core is to be outside the realm of the Diyanet – an apostate of sorts, threatened with death.

That this could become the future of Ataturk’s secular democratic republic is tragic. But there is also a very real possibility of the impulse spreading into Europe. Other events this year, such as the attacks on Dutch journalist Ebru Umar and German comedian Jan Bohmermann, both of whom criticized the Turkish president, demonstrate that many European Turks lean towards such a radicalized and tribalist vision. It is a vision Europe’s leaders would do well to extinguish while they still can.

Turkey: The State and the Systematic Use of Mob Violence

August 7, 2016

Turkey: The State and the Systematic Use of Mob Violence, Clarion Project, William Reed, August 7, 2016

Turkey-Mob-Beating-Mustafa-Turan-Caliskan-HPTurkish victim of a mob attack Mustafa Turan Caliskan (Photo: Video screenshot)

Following the July 15 failed coup in Turkey, pro-Erdogan mobs across the country have attempted lynching not only against surrendering soldiers who took place in the coup attempt, but also against civilians just walking down the streets who they decide are anti-government.

The latest victims were in Ankara and Istanbul.

 

Ankara: Turks beat fellow Turk for “not holding Turkish flag”

In Ankara, a young was beaten on the night of July 30 by three assailants for not holding a Turkish flag. A video (see below) of the assault has gone viral.

The initial reports and social media accounts that shared the video said the victim was a French tourist. But the Turkish newspaper Birgun discovered that the victim, Mustafa Turan Caliskan, was an ethnic Turk from Yozgat, a central Anatolian city in Turkey.

In the video, the attackers are heard laughing and saying, “We gave you a Turkish flag but you did not accept it. If you do not accept the Turkish flag, you will be punched. You have to be a man. If we give this to you, you have to hold it.”

The attackers kept interrogating Caliskan, all the while filming the attack. “Did you betray the Turkish flag?” asked one of the perpetrators. “Do you really love Turkey after this moment? Say you love Turkey! You have to love the flag, bastard!”

“We have turned the guy into wreckage in 10 seconds,” proclaimed another assailant joyfully. “Now go home, fuck off!” shouted another to the victim.  “Say you are Turkish! You are Turkish, right?”

The video was then proudly uploaded by one of the perpetrators .

Caliskan, 29, said that the incident occurred after he approached some men in a car to ask to use their lighter. Instead of responding, they attacked him.

“I got the first punch as I leaned towards the car. I partly lost my consciousness after being punched, so I could not speak while being filmed on the camera. That is why the viewers must have thought I was not Turkish,” he said.

Warning: Garphic Images

Caliskan said that his life has been very difficult since the incident.  “I do not want to go outside because I feel everybody is looking at me.” He filed a complaint about the attackers at a police station.

“I collapsed after the first punch in my eye,” said Caliskan. “There was no dialogue between us except for me asking for their lighter to light my cigarette. Then they filmed me. I do not remember what was spoken in the video. But I remember thinking that I could be murdered. I remembered Ali Ismail Korkmaz.”

Ali Ismail Korkmaz, a 19-year-old Alevi university student, was one of the many victims of mob and police violence in Turkey. He was savagely beaten on June 2, 2013 in the city of Eskisehir during the Gezi Protests.

In a statement to authorities before he died, Korkmaz described the attack: “Five or six people came up to me, they beat me with clubs on my head, back, shoulder and legs. I fell to the ground….Yesterday I didn’t have difficulty in speaking, but today I can’t remember. One of my teeth is loose because of the incident. My head hurts, I have difficulty speaking. I don’t know who beat me or why. They were wearing civilian clothes. I want to make a complaint.”

Korkmaz was admitted to a hospital after making his statement, but soon fell into a coma. He died on July 10, 2013.

 

Istanbul: Pregnant woman attacked for ‘wearing revealing clothes, supporting coup’

Hazal Olmez, who works as a secretary at the Turkish left-wing dailyEvrensel, was attacked by a group of people who accused her of “wearing revealing clothes and supporting the July 15 failed coup attempt” on August 2 in Istanbul.

Olmez, who is six and a half months pregnant, said two of the attackers were burqa-wearing women.

“Why are you wearing revealing clothes? You are a coup supporter and a Gulenist,” the group reportedly yelled at Olmez, while calling for people nearby to join them in beating her.

“You won’t get dressed this way anymore, you will get dressed the way we want you to and you will obey us,” one of the three attackers said.

Olmez reported, “They called for others to attack me. They wanted to lynch me there.”

The group continued to beat Olmez after she fell to the ground, as other people standing nearby watched the incident and did not offer any help, according to the report.

 

‘Turkey’s Lynching Regime’

Political violence, lynching – even pogroms — are not new or a rare phenomenon in Turkey. The victims have mostly been minorities.

“In Turkey’s near history,” writes columnist Fehim Tastekin, “mobs targeted mainly Armenians, Syriacs, Jews, Greeks, Alevis and Kurds.

“As Tanil Bora, author of the book Turkey’s Lynching Regime, puts it, “When it comes to Alevis and Kurds, this has always been a ‘free shot’ area. The ‘lynching’ of leftists has always been permissible. Police and ‘sensitive citizens’ act on the basis of this knowledge.”

“Despite hundreds of mob violence attempts,” added Tastekin, “the security forces have detained only a handful of people, only to release them after questioning. And almost always, they have found a reason to investigate the victims.”

Violence – be it political or not – is widespread in many parts of the world. What matters in the cases of violence, however, is the reaction of the state institutions and how they handle justice.

If the state protects the victims and punishes the perpetrators, and tries to take precautions to reduce the attacks, the violence could be blamed on just the criminals or “extremists” and interpreted as “isolated incidents” that take place outside of the control of the state.

But in Turkey, most attacks are state-sponsored and intentionally target minorities – such as the 1955 anti-Greek pogrom in Istanbul in which the Turkish government unleashed Turkish mobs on the Greek community.

According to the researcher Speros Vryonis Jr., “[The attacks] resulted in the ultimate destruction of Turkey’s oldest historical community, about 100,000 Greek Orthodox Christians who were the heirs of Byzantium.”

Due to such systematic attacks, the minorities in Turkey have mostly been exterminated and dissidents are silenced. Many victims have been murdered. If they are “lucky,” they manage to flee the country. If they have to stay, they most probably live the rest of their lives with fear of violence.

Meanwhile, extremists continue taking the law into their hands, looking for new victims in the streets to punish – for wearing “revealing” clothes, for not “holding the Turkish flag,” for speaking Kurdish or any other non-Turkish language, for being non-Muslim or not Islamic enough, for doing anything the extremists consider “unacceptablem” or for doing nothing at all.

These mobs know that they will never be held accountable no matter what they do and the state institutions will always be on their side and not of the victims.

The Turkish state apparently uses the mobs to shape the society as it wishes. Through these attacks, minorities and dissidents who dare think differently are ordered to “know their place” or just leave.

And so far, this policy seems to have worked well. Only 0.2 % of the remaining population  of Turkey is non-Muslim (Christians and Jews) and there is not a strong political opposition in the country to challenge the anti-democratic government policies.

Turkey, a European Union applicant, has totally turned EU standards and any other civilized code of conduct upside down.