Since the March 15 massacre of dozens of Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Turkey has joined the rest of the world in condemning the murders, praying for the victims and commemorating the event by laying wreaths at the sites of the slaughter.
This is a fitting response to a mass shooting of innocent people, but there seem to be some problems with it where Turkey is concerned.
The first is the way in which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been making cynical use of video footage from the deadly attacks to bolster his candidates’ standing ahead of the March 31 municipal elections — by blaming “global Islamophobia” for the carnage.
Related – Turkish president suffers series of setbacks as his party loses grip of capital
urkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan suffered a severe setback as his ruling AK Party lost control of the capital Ankara for the first time in a local election and he appeared to concede defeat in the country’s largest city, Istanbul.
Mr Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics since coming to power 16 years ago and ruled his country with an ever tighter grip, campaigned relentlessly for two months ahead of Sunday’s vote, which he described as a “matter of survival” for Turkey.
The criminalization in Turkey of “insulting the president” reached a new low in early March, when a father and daughter in Ankara accused one another of engaging in the punishable offense, as part of an internal family feud.
According to Istanbul Bilgi University professor of law, Yaman Akdeniz, since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s 2014 election, there have been 66,691 “insult investigations” launched, resulting in 12,305 trials thus far, and the “numbers are increasing.”
Foreign Minister Winston Peters told a press conference on Monday that the Turkish president’s decision to screen footage from the Christchurch shooting could endanger New Zealanders.
Fifty people were killed in attacks on two mosques in the southern city on Friday. The alleged gunman, Australian Brenton Tarrant, broadcast the carnage live on Facebook. Social media companies have been scrambling ever since to remove the viral video from their platforms.
Now the footage has made an appearance at several political rallies in Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used snippets from the recording at televised campaign events over the weekend in an apparent attempt to boost support ahead of upcoming polls. He also projected excerpts purported to be from the gunman’s manifesto onto a giant screen and told the crowd the suspect had made threats against Turkish Muslims.
In an apparent attempt to capitalize on the horrific terror attack on two New Zealand mosques which left 49 dead and dozens more wounded, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed the gunman, 28-year-old Australian national Brenton Tarrant, had targeted Erdogan, Turkey, and “the whole Muslim world” in a speech on Friday.
…Ömer Çelik, the spokesperson for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said the motivation for the shooting that left 49 people dead in Christchurch was linked to what he described as a “political Russian doll” of enmity towards Muslims.
“On the top layer is animosity to Erdoğan, then the doll inside is animosity towards Turkey. At the base is animosity towards Islam,” Çelik said.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan – whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an ‘anti-Semitic dictator’ last December – added that he will ‘not turn his back on the Palestinian cause’.
Turkey has dismissed President Donald Trump’s threat to “devastate” its economy if it attacks Kurdish forces in Syria following a planned pullout of US troops.
“You cannot get anywhere by threatening Turkey economically,” Foreign Minister Nevlut Cavusoglu said.
US forces have fought alongside a Kurdish militia in northern Syria against the Islamic State (IS) group.
Turkey, however, regards the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as terrorists.
Turkey’s president has warned the US it has made a “grave mistake” asking for protection for Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State in Syria and threatened once again to launch an assault against them.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) terrorists, said Turkey would “not make concessions” and said preparations for an offensive were nearly complete.
“John Bolton has made a grave mistake on this issue,” a furious Mr Erdogan told parliament as the US national security adviser arrived in Ankara for talks with Turkish officials. “The (YPG’s) fight with Islamic State in Syria is a huge lie.”
The day after American pastor Andrew Brunson was released from Turkish prison, another Christian who had been living for nearly two decades in the country was detained by Turkish authorities, and told that he had two weeks to leave the country — without his wife and three children. The American-Canadian evangelist, David Byle, not only suffered several detentions and interrogations over the years, but he had been targeted for deportation on three occasions. Each time, he was saved by court rulings. This time, however, he was unable to prevent banishment, and left the country after two days in a detention center.
This is what Islam does. No one should be surprised.
When Turkey first applied for full membership in the European Union in 1987, the world was an entirely different place — even the rich club had a different name: the European Economic Community. U.S. President Ronald Reagan had undergone minor surgery; British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had been re-elected for a third term; Macau and Hong Kong were, respectively, Portuguese and British territory; the Berlin Wall was up and running; the demonstrations at the Tiananmen Square were a couple of years away; the Iran-Contra affair was in the headlines; the First Intifada had just begun; and what are today Czech Republic and Slovakia were Czechoslovakia.
In March 2003, just a few months after he was elected Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey was “very much ready to be part of the European Union family.” In October 2005, formal accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU began.
Turkey has begun massing tanks and troop carriers on its southern border with Syria as it prepares to move into the country once American soldiers have left.
Erdogan’s forces were pictured arriving in border cities of Kilis and al-Rai after the country’s foreign minister said they will push into Syria as soon as possible.
It comes after Donald Trump announced that all 2,000 American troops will withdraw from the country and that Turkey will take over the fight against ISIS.
Turkey appears to be accelerating its endeavor to establish an Ottoman-style Islamic government encompassing several Muslim nations. One such effort was apparent in early November at the second “International Islamic Union Congress,” in Istanbul. The conference is sponsored mainly by the Strategic Research Center for Defenders of Justice (ASSAM), headed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief military advisor, Adnan Tanrıverdi, a retired Islamist lieutenant general.
Turkey will launch a new operation in Syria within days against a US-backed Kurdish militia that Ankara considers a terrorist group, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
“We will start an operation to free the east of the Euphrates from the separatist terrorist organisation in the next few days,” Mr Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara, referring to territory held by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Turkey says the YPG is a “terrorist offshoot” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
American actor Sean Penn raised eyebrows in Turkey on Wednesday when he appeared outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul – the scene of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder – apparently working on a documentary on the assassination.
In Turkey, several methods are employed to eliminate religious minorities, not only by physical violence. Instead, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tries to erase minority faiths by preventing their ability to function by denying them the freedom to establish and safely operate their own institutions and places of worship. The Alevis, for instance, a historically persecuted religious minority in Turkey, are all-too-familiar with this form of oppression.
The Alevi-owned broadcaster, TV10, for example, was closed down in September 2016, two months after the failed coup attempt against Erdoğan, for allegedly “threatening national security and belonging to a terror organization.”