The Islamist

There is nothing wrong if one is a (political) soldier of Islam. It is just awfully dishonest if one is a soldier of Islam but claims he is not.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s love affair with the democratically elected, pro-Shariah and terrorist Hamas is not new. Israeli offensive on Gaza has just unmasked the depths of this love affair. Mr Erdoğan’s rhetoric and governance about the Gaza affair deserve careful thinking and perhaps a few questions.

In a speech on Iran’s nuclear ambitions a few months earlier, Mr Erdoğan signaled his government’s disinclination to follow the United States lead, saying: "Countries that oppose Iran’s nuclear weapons should not have nuclear weapons themselves." Despite the plural (countries) the addressee in that remark was apparently Israel, not the United States as many people speculated. Now, let’s simulate.

Iran is Turkey’s neighbor. Tehran’s claims that it has no ambitions to possess nuclear weapons is tantamount to Mr Erdoğan’s claims that he is not an Islamist. Turkey perceives Iran as a security threat, according to an official national security threat document which carries Mr Erdogan’s signature.

The same threat paper considers Greece, another neighbor but westward instead of east, as a security threat too, but not as "high priority" as Iran. Assume Greece, which Turkey considers less of a security threat than Iran, overtly or covertly, decided to go for nuclear weapons. Would Mr Erdoğan defend a nuclear Greece and say that "countries that oppose Greece’s nuclear weapons should not have nuclear weapons themselves?" We can fairly guess the answer. Another question: Why would Mr Erdoğan support Muslim Iran’s ambitions for nuclear weapons but oppose Orthodox Greece’s ambitions for nuclear weapons as the document he signed says Iran is a bigger security threat to Turkey?

Brussels. That’s where Mr Erdoğan went to lecture European Union leaders on the virtues of democracy and of Hamas. He blamed the deaths in Gaza on the "West that does not respect Hamas." Reformulate the phrase: If the West respected Hamas innocent civilians would not have died in Gaza. Convincing?

Rockets. Oh, how do we know they are fired by Hamas, Mr Erdoğan asked, there are many other groups in the Gaza Strip that may be firing rockets. No, he was not joking!

Improvised explosive devices and bombs and attacks on Turkish soldiers by the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK? Oh, how do we know they are operated by the PKK? There are many Kurdish groups in the Southeast and in northern Iraq.

Democracy? Numbers? Would Mr Erdoğan care to ask the people of the southeast whether they would wish to have autonomy for a Kurdish region? A referendum perhaps? Would that not be at least as democratic as the Palestinian elections?

During the Israeli assault Mr Erdoğan said, in quite broken Turkish, that "he approaches the Gaza issue with a Muslim’s approach." Good. He may approach any issue with anyone’s/any faith’s approach. But why does he loudly suspect that the "EU may be approaching the Turkish membership with a Christian’s approach?" What’s wrong with that? Is it perfectly all right when he approaches politics with a Muslim’s approach but not so perfectly all right when Christians approach politics with a Christian’s approach? But there is more. During the Israeli offensive Mr Erdoğan’s government issued a directive to schools calling for a minute’s silence for Palestinians killed in Gaza. Students aged six to 18 in over 45,000 Turkish schools stood to silence for solidarity with the Palestinian victims. Good.

One wonders, though, why did the humanity-sensitive Ministry of Education not issue a directive calling for a minute’s silence when in 2004 Muslim Chechen terrorists massacred hundreds of Russian schoolchildren in Beslan. Could it be because in Beslan the victims were not Muslim but the murderers were?

Let’s keep on simulating. We know that Mr Erdoğan approaches Gaza with a Muslim’s approach. Should, then, the Orthodox Christians, or all Christians for that matter, approach the Armenian genocide dispute with "an Orthodox’s or a Christian’s approach?" Should Christian governments issue directives to their Christian schools calling for a minute’s silence on every April 24, with or without the term "genocide?"

If one day they do so, would Mr Erdoğan empathize? Would he "understand" if, say, Russian students stood to silence "in memory of the tragic events of 1915 to 1919?" For sure, there must have been far more Armenian children who lost their lives in that period than in Gaza at any time. Mr Erdoğan’s contradictions will never end. He is "the Islamist" who pretends he is not.
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