The Real Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey

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This article is worth reading, it highlights a weakness among Muslim leaders to lean towards dictatorship, an apparent deficiency in their faith in God, that they do not consider God to be supreme and start elevating themselves to be God like.

 Qur’an is crystal clear; you cannot force any one to believe in what they don’t want to believe, and it asserts, let there be no compulsion in the matters of faith. Then God beefs it up and tells the Prophet that you need not be frustrated if people don’t get your message, you role is to simply deliver it, and I reserve the right to guide them. There is a lot of wisdom in the above two statements.

Contrast this with the inclination of Muslim rulers, who are eager to usurp the liberties of people, and want to impose their beliefs on their subjects. Islam was really for these men, and not necessarily for the average moderate Muslim, who practices the values of Islam without wearing it on his sleeve or her saree.

The dictator Zia ul-Haq badly messed up Pakistan, he did not trust in the God given freedom of individuals, and believed in subjecting them to his version of Islam. He was ready to play God and punish those who did not obey his damned laws that he passed out as Islamic. Now when I read about Erdogan, the popular Prime Minister of Turkey, I get the feeling that he will sink Turkey into a fascist state.

What is wrong with Muslim leadership? Why do they want to become dictators? Do they ever learn the Golden rule that Prophet so eloquently put, think for your brother what you think for yourselves. I pray to God that he save us from religious bigots running the governments and making a hell for those who differ with them.

I don’t know how many Muslims are aware of the Alevi Muslims of Kurdistan. They seem to have become equivalent of  the Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, being harassed by the Sunnis. Of course, Muslim nations are not the only ones who are uncivilized, even America has her own share of bigotry towards minorities

However, I’ll take this piece with a grain of salt because it originates from the Center for Islamic Pluralism, run by Steven Schwartz. I am not sure about his agenda, but he is yet to sound sincere to me. We need to verify the veracity of the information presented in this piece. Finding the truth is your own responsibility.

I had a severe encounter with him, he was going to sue me for my write up asking him to back off from approaching the Union of Rabbis. He and others wrote to them, that ISNA is not the legitimate representation of Muslims, but they are, and that the Rabbis need to deal with them. I said baloney, the market is too big, go get the others instead of undermining the work of ISNA.

Israeli aggression towards the Palestinians made Erdogan speak up in strong terms, and that instantly made him a hero in the Muslim world and earned huge support for him. It’s wrong to say that Muslims rejoice when some one stands up to Israel, but the whole world does rejoice. I pray that the people of Israel wake up and take back their governance from the leadership that continue to deeply isolate Israel,  and deplete the moral standing in the community of Nations. Erdogan would not have had a chance to rise, had Israel followed the principles of justice.

Mike Ghouse for cohesive societies and for democratic governance.



The Real Erdoğan

by Veli Sirin
Gatestone Institute
May 13, 2013

 Recep Tayyip Erdog(an, born on February 26, 1954, comes from a shabby Istanbul waterfront neighborhood where children grew up between rusting ships and old tires. He sold snacks on the street as a youth, to help his family. He called himself “the black Turk.” He emerged, a parvenu in Istanbul’s elegant, secular social strata, as a much-feared religious advocate for the masses. He is now married to Emine, with whom he has four children: two sons, and two daughters. His daughters, like his wife, wear headscarves (hijab).

Erdog(an graduated from a religious high school, was a semiprofessional soccer player for various teams, worked in municipal bus services, and served as an accountant and manager in a food company. He completed his education in business administration and served as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998 – but was then tried and sentenced for anti-secular incitement, and spent four months in prison. In 2001 he founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which swept the Turkish elections of 2002 in a landslide majority.

Since then, Erdog(an has turned Turkey upside-down. The Islamist outsider, the extreme religious believer, the failed soccer player, now determines the future of his country. He is the most powerful Turk since the legendary founder of the republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. His history is that of someone who, in seeking to change his country, was transformed from a fighter to a reformer, and then a ruler.

In 2002 people in Turkey already seem to have viewed Erdog(an as an “alpha male;” but his mastery is now obvious. Assistants and advisers crowd around him, bowing and scraping. Does he actually need their support to remain standing?

He had claimed to be seeking “Anglo-Saxon” secularism and was quoted in the London Economist in 2001, saying “I am not an Islamist – I’m just an observant Muslim and that’s my own business.” That was the genius of Erdog(an: to profess loyalty to secularism while, once in authority, acting with determination to dismantle it.

Turkey, he repeated in political speech after speech providing the early basis of his appeal, was administered badly. His party’s predecessors in government, in 2000, faced a deep economic crisis. Erdog(an argued, “We want a Western standard of living and to join the European Union.”

This requires reforms. The old secular elite challenged Erdog(an from the time of his rhetorical excess as mayor of Istanbul in 1998, while the army warned the AKP openly in 2007 that it was on dangerous ground and could be removed. Nationalist groups summoned mass demonstrations, which the secular media applauded. The chief public prosecutor attempted to ban the AKP and its prime minister in 2008. The attempt failed and left Erdog(an more powerful than before. The military delivered a more subtle series of hints about their willingness to act against the Islamists during the approach to the election of 2011, but was ignored.

Erdog(an cultivates the art of provocation, as seen in his confrontational rhetoric toward Israel and Germany. He is self-confident and controlled, but aggressive. He rebuffed Angela Merkel’s criticisms of Turkish press restrictions in February 2013, with the result that the dream of rapid EU entry, already clouded, appeared to have failed definitively. He called for more Turkish-language schools in Germany, where people with a family background in Turkey account for about 4.5 million, or 5% of the population. He criticized the Americans over sanctions against Iran and supported defiance of Israel’s Gaza blockade by backing the Mavi Marmara maritime attempt to break the embargo, and officially endorsing the Islamist Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or I.HH. He currently plans to change the constitution by expanding presidential powers, and for this many citizens are lauding him.

The constitutional referendum he called in 2010 reduced the independence of the judiciary. Three constitutional court judges are now chosen by parliament and 14 by the president. In this way Erdog(an and the AKP gained dominance over the court. Similarly, and with the same intent, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors was enlarged, from seven to 22 members. Trials of anti-Islamist public prosecutors and journalists began. A justifiable investigation of conspiracy within the army became a blind pursuit of opponents of the AKP. Generals and lawyers, until then the backbone of the Turkish state, were sentenced to prison. The army, which had long guarded Turkish secularism, was to be expelled from politics, leaving governance to party functionaries.

In every election, Erdog(an gained more votes. The AKP has an absolute majority, but the separation of powers in the state is irritating to it. Erdog(an seems to think he must be the only boss.

When they hear the way in which he speaks, secular and sophisticated Turks are frightened. At 59 years of age, Erdog(an apparently loves to deliver advice. He criticizes the increase of single people living in the cities and calls on the young to marry as quickly as they can. A happy family, according to him, will need to produce three children or “Turks will become extinct.” He calls loudly for the reintroduction of the death penalty, abolished in 2004 as an element of the nation’s approach to the EU.

Erdog(an seems to have two major goals: The first is the protection of his own political future, the second is that of aggrandizing what he sees evidently as Turkey’s geopolitical ambitions. His accomplices also appear to envision a new constitutional order in which the president will hold the highest authority. This could work in a federal country or one with other checks on power. But Turkish centralism could easily slide into authoritarianism. The opposition denounces him, and the majority of Turks would reject a dictatorship, but Erdog(an, a political rock star, looks likely to be chosen for a new-style, expanded presidency.

His project for the protection of Turkey encompasses some accommodation with the Kurdish minority, who make up as much as a quarter of Turkey’s population of 85 million. Worried by the Syrian civil war and the success of the Kurdish autonomous, oil-exporting zone in northern Iraq, Erdog(an would do well to solve the Kurdish issue. His representatives negotiated with the radical leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK], Abdullah Öcalan, while he was in jail, and offered political and cultural reforms in eastern Turkey – if the PKK agreed to cease fighting. Were Erdog(an to establish Kurdish rights within Turkey he would repair a birth defect of the Turkish Republic and complete the legacy of Atatürk.

At Nowruz, the Kurdish and Central Asian New Year celebration on March 21, 2013, held in the eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, which has a Kurdish majority, hundreds of thousands of Kurds were electrified by the announcement that Öcalan had declared an end to the PKK’s insurgency. At least 40,000 people had died in the struggle. Öcalan endorsed a cease-fire, and the PKK revised its earlier demand for independence, now asking only for autonomy.

Erdog(an’s presidential system may be a curse, but if Erdog(an is still partly a reformer, peace with the Kurds would be a blessing. Erdog(an has the future in his hands and many hope he will act wisely. Few really believe in this promise, but hope dies last.

Meanwhile, Erdog(an must also face the problem of the Turkish and Kurdish Alevi minority, which also totals about a quarter of the Turkish census, or 20 million. Alevis are heterodox Muslims following a tradition fusing Shia Islam, metaphysical Sufism, and pre-Islamic shamanism. In 1995, an Alevi leader, I.zzettin Dog(an, launched an “officially-approved” Alevi group, Cem Vakf?. As members of the spiritual movement do not pray in mosques, a cem is an Alevi meeting house.

The Turkish government then used Cem Vakf? to split the Alevi opposition to the regime. The government, even when it was secular, favored Sunni Islam and harassed Alevis. Politically, Dog(an represented the extreme nationalist right, and was linked to the fascist Nationalist Action Party or MHP, known as the Grey Wolves, from the title of its paramilitary branch. The MHP supported the military in its campaign against the Kurdish PKK, and the Grey Wolves have been charged with at least 5,000 murders of Turkish and Kurdish leftists, including Alevis, in the 1980s. Today the veterans of the Grey Wolves are intertwined with the state and are responsible for countless abuses of human rights in both the Kurdish areas of eastern Turkey and in localities of the country’s western region, where they hold political office.

In 1978 the Grey Wolves committed a massacre of Alevis, calling all “believers” to aggressive jihad, or war on alleged non-Muslims, against Alevis and leftists. The Grey Wolves proclaimed, “One who kills an Alevi will enter paradise, and the death of an Alevi is equal to five hajj pilgrimages to Mecca.”

In 1980, after a military coup, the MHP was banned, along with all other political parties. Nevertheless, many supporters of the Grey Wolves achieved careers in the military and state bureaucracy. The ban on the MHP was eventually removed and in the late 1990s the party changed its public orientation in a religious direction. In 1997, I.zzettin Dog(an introduced his Cem Vakf? in four different towns in the Netherlands, under the auspices of the foreign branch of the MHP, the so-called Federation of Turkish Democratic-Idealist Organizations in Europe or ADÜTDF.
Erdoğan’s government has approached the Alevis in Turkey with plans for ambitious construction of mosques in their communities, even though Alevis meet for their rituals, as noted, in cem houses, and only a few Alevis attend mosque services.

Mosque-building in Alevi villages, therefore, is a waste of public funds, but since the 1980s, pressure for “Sunnization” has been intense and has provoked political protest among the Alevis. Today, Alevis increasingly refuse to conceal their identities, as they might have done in the past; instead, they present themselves openly as Alevis, defending the Alevi faith. Alevi books and magazines are now issued prolifically and Alevism is offered as a counter to Islamist ideology.

Support for Cem Vakfı and İzzettin Doğan by the Turkish state institutions and mass media has failed. The democratic Alevis reject him, and the situation should remain as such.

Nevertheless, the AKP regime, through its apologists, including the journalist Mustafa Akyol, who has performed brilliantly in convincing Washington politicians of his moderation, accuses the Alevis of supporting the bloodthirsty dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. There is no serious corroboration of this claim, which has also been made by Erdoğan himself. Its proponents assert falsely that the Alevi movement in Turkey is similar to the ostensibly Shia Alawite cult ruling Syria. This is denied by Alevis themselves as well as by authoritative, objective Western academics.

While Erdoğan contends with the appeals from Alevis and Kurds for an end to discrimination against them, the AKP’s purge trials of military officers and journalists grind on. The Center for Islamic Pluralism has received a communication from Yasin Türker, one of 328 victims sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment in the “Sledgehammer case,” in which the defendants were charged with attempting to overthrow the AKP government in 2003. According to Türker, the evidence in the “Sledgehammer” proceedings was falsified by the introduction of unprinted, unsigned, digitally-fabricated documents. Forgery of the material was proven by its appearance in Microsoft Office 2007 format, which did not exist in 2003. Not a single item of evidence or eyewitness testimony has ever supported the indictment.

Türker, a former lieutenant commander of the Turkish Navy, was tried in a courtroom in a high-security prison, away from the public and without any attorney-client confidentiality. The burden of proof was on the defendants to establish their innocence. There was no procedure for evaluating the evidence. The court refused to analyze the authenticity of the digital files included in the indictment, and refused to call witnesses for the defense. No opportunity was provided for the defense to cross-examine the prosecutors’ “experts.”
According to Türker, the Turkish judiciary has become a weapon for settling scores, silencing opponents, restructuring Turkish society as an AKP party-state, and undermining secularism. That is the true nature of Erdoğan’s program and reveals the real character of Erdoğan as a politician.

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