2017 model bigotry: Defamation of Jews and Gulen movement in Turkey

In 1998, Gulen met with Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi Doron in Istanbul.
In 1998, Gulen met with Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi Doron in Istanbul.


Date posted: August 19, 2017

Cansu Camlibel

Since last week’s horrific scenes of white supremacists and Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in deadly violence, American friends familiar with polarization in Turkish society in recent years keep telling me now they understand our despair. I agree with them to a certain extent in terms of drawing similarities between worrying political tendencies of the masses in Turkey and the U.S., but only to a certain extent. History unfolded differently in Turkey. Modern Turkey does not have a memory of a civil war, which enforced the state to equally treat different groups of citizens. Yet the Republic carried all societal complexities of the Ottoman Empire to this day, without accomplishing the truly equal treatment of different ethnic and religious groups.

Indeed, the moral flaws in terms of the treatment of religious minorities in Turkey were strikingly outlined in the U.S. State Department’s annual religious freedoms report, published a few days ago. One might reasonably argue that the U.S. is hardly in a position to dictate moral obligations to other nations when it is struggling to clean its own backyard. But I still find these reports useful in coming to terms with our bitter realities. After all, we Turks have a tradition of burying our heads in the sand rather than confronting the ugly truth ourselves.

We might not have well-structured Neo-Nazi groups in Turkey, but Jews continue to express concern about anti-Semitism and increased threats of violence throughout the country. Remember how the first Jewish wedding held in 41 years at the newly renovated Grand Synagogue in Edirne triggered anti-Semitic attacks on social media. Comments such as “Kill the Jews” and “It’s such a pity that Hitler didn’t finish the job” were shamelessly shared on Periscope while the tiny Turkish Jewish community was broadcasting live from the wedding.

According to the report penned by U.S. diplomats, threats of violence against the Jewish community in Turkey increased after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Alevis, Protestants and Catholics have also felt their share of similar bigotry, which has sometimes resulted in vandalism.

Let me just remind you of some examples of the anti-Semitic discourse and hate speech in the Turkish media from the State Department’s report.

“In August a columnist in Yeni Şafak associated the July 15 coup plotters with Jews by claiming the mother of Fetullah Gülen had a Jewish name.”

“In December a columnist in Sabah said Gülen was a very clever man who can smell money and power instantly because he is a Jew. He went on to link Jews to brothels and called them ‘liars expert at disguise.’”

“In December Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu said that Fethullah Gülen will end up dying in the U.S. and be buried in a Jewish cemetery.”

It is one thing for a columnist to throw out conspiracy theories, but when a government minister voices similar rhetoric it raises the question of whether those ideas really are as marginal as we think. After all, in the case of Charlottesville, President Trump’s refusal to unequivocally condemn the actions of white supremacists was more alarming than the images of white men in polo t-shirts carrying torches celebrating Nazi ideology.

Similarly, more alarming than the thousands of Turkish Muslims performing in a morning prayer outside the Hagia Sophia are the rumors that prominent names inside the Turkish government are also pushing for the reconversion of the museum into a mosque. Two months ago, former Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) head Mehmet Görmez’s move to take part in a special broadcast at the Hagia Sophia on state broadcaster TRT, marking the Laylat al-Qadr, raised further question marks.

The Turkish state should not need foreigners’ caution to acknowledge Hagia Sophia’s historical significance as a symbol of peaceful coexistence and meaningful dialogue between religions. At a moment when the monsters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are destroying ancient mosques and churches just across our southern border, Turkey must pay utmost attention to not lose its soft power of religious tolerance.


Original title of this article is “2017 model bigotry: Turkey not Charlottesville

 

Source: Hurriyet Daily News , August 19, 2017


Related News

Fenerbahçe’s Yıldırım calls on fans to attend protest

“We consider the dissemination … of wiretaps of Fethullah Gülen Hocaefendi’s conversations an operation, and we condemn and refuse to accept these kinds of activities,” Yıldırım said. Gülen filed criminal complaints over the illegal wiretaps and against the media outlets and websites that published the distorted voice recordings in an attempt to defame the scholar.

Totalitarian interference in individual sphere

The Prime Minister Erdoğanis talking about closing the prep schools in which students enroll to get additional education and be more successful on university entrance examinations.His whole argument to close these institutions is just a blur of some basic facts. Everyone knows that Erdoğan is taking these steps for a single purpose: He wants to punish the Gülen movement.

Erdoğan calls critics, civil movements ‘traitors,’ threatens investors

Graham Watson, the president of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party and the former chairman of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the EP also criticized Erdoğan for using hate speech against Hizmet.

Man campaigning for anti-Gülen protest in US Turkish Communist Party member

A statement on the herkul.org website, which broadcasts weekly speeches of Gülen, said Gülen’s doors are open to everyone. “We are following the path of 13th-century Sufi philosopher and poet Rumi. Our hearts and doors are open to everyone. We have all kinds of tea and refreshments here. Freedom of expression and thought is what we have also been defending unless it contains insult.

Turkish editor hits out at media coercion under Erdoğan

Segments of the Turkish media remain fiercely anti-government, however, including secularist dailies Sözcü and Cumhuriyet, and more recently Zaman and Bugün, which are close to Gülen and have become more critical since the graft scandal erupted.

Prominent theologian says Turkey in crisis with international community

American Professor Philip Clayton has said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s burning of bridges with the European Union after he received criticism from the bloc for detaining leading members of the media is a sign that Turkey is in crisis with the international community.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Erdoğan’s Fight against the Gülen Movement & The Demise of Turkish State Rationality

Turkish coup d’état: a failed test for the EU

Probe launched into daily Taraf for attempting to cause chaos

The Shadow Politics of Shadow Education

Armed with automatic rifles, Turkish authorities raid Gülen-linked schools

The First Private Kurdish TV Channel in Turkey

Malawian President Thanks Kimse Yok Mu

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News