#AceNewsReport – July.12: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees himself as the natural leader of the Muslim world: Last year saw published in his mouthpiece, the newspaper Yeni Safak, his plan for a pan-Islamic army that, with its huge collective armory of planes and tanks, and more than a million men under arms, would be able to attack and destroy the Jewish state. He was surprised when his plan was not applauded by other Muslims, but instead was greeted with a telling silence. Erdogan had overlooked – or more likely refused to recognize — the resentments still felt by many Muslim Arabs at their mistreatment by the Ottoman Turks:
Jerusalem Post Report: Erdogan’s Mischief-Making, and His Comeuppance (Part 1)
His latest attempt to claim leadership of the Umma against Israel are seen in statements this past June by Turkish officials warning Israel against any attempt at “annexing” Jerusalem. The story, at the Jerusalem Post is here: Turkey’s Minister of Religious Affairs Ali Erbas vowed over the weekend that “our struggle will continue until Jerusalem is completely free.”……………..The powerful religious scholar and voice in Turkey who is close to the country’s leadership and leading party, was speaking to an online forum of Palestinian scholars. The comments were reported in Turkish on T24 media.
He said that Jerusalem is a universal value [sic] and that “Islamic civilization has a memory of historical knowledge and values, and that it is never possible for Muslims to give up on the blessed city: ” His views echo those of Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who told a recent June 10 executive committee meeting that Turkey was putting its full support behind Palestinians against Israel’s annexation. “The ummah [Islamic community] will never give up on a sovereign Palestinian state with Quds al-Sharif as its capital.”
Apparently not all the states in the Umma agree with this maximalist position by Turkey. Several Arab states – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE – have been grateful for Israeli intelligence cooperation against a common enemy, Iran, and against the Muslim Brotherhood as well: The ambassadors of three Arab countries, the UAE, Bahrain, and Oman, attended the White House roll-out of Trump’s peace plan, which has been interpreted as a clear sign of approval. The Saudi Crown Prince has even been quoted as telling Mahmoud Abbas to stop his tantrums and accept whatever deal he can from the Americans and Israelis.
The Turkish Minister of Religious Affairs fails to recognise that the Temple Mount’s status will not change under the Trump Plan: It will remain part of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (a religious trust) under Jordanian custodianship, while Israeli security control will also continue.
Erbas, who is also a professor, has as his Twitter background a photo of Jerusalem, not Mecca, which shows how Turkey’s government is trying to adopt the Palestinian cause and make Jerusalem an “Islamic” cause to rally the Middle East against Israel: It is part of an increasing Islamist rhetoric coming out of Turkey, where military campaigns have been compared to “jihad” and where Turkish-backed fighters call their enemies “atheists” and “infidels.” The rising rhetoric has also begun to suggest turning Hagia Sophia, the ancient church in Istanbul, into a mosque again.
The re-islamization of Turkey by Erdogan has been demonstrated by several developments: Most important has been his promotion of the Imam Hatip schools, which began as vocational schools but now have been infused with a heavy dose of religious training: These public schools are now attended by 1.5 million students; they are lavishly funded by the state, provided with at least double the support of regular public schools. And Erdogan sees them as key to his re-islamization efforts, to create a de-kemalized “pious generation.” He has also built nearly 20,000 new mosques in Turkey so far during his tenure, adding to the 75,000 that already exist.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has been building thousands of mosques overseas, as well, from Accra, Ghana (the largest mosque in West Africa) to Maryland (an Islamic complex said to be the largest of its kind in the entire Western Hemisphere), to Bishkek, Kyrgystan (the largest mosque in Central Asia) In all of these mosques abroad, the sermons are supplied by the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs, and are identical to those heard, at the same time, in every Turkish neighborhood, village, and city.
Another example of re-Islamization is the attempt to turn back into mosques the two great edifices, richly decorated with Byzantine paintings and frescoes, that had originally been built as churches and then, after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, became mosques, only to be turned, after Ataturk’s secular reforms, into museums: Turkey’s Supreme Court ruled in December 2019 that any structure that had once been a mosque must remain a mosque. The government has applied this ruling to the Church of St. Savior at Chora, which became a mosque – the Kariye Djami – after the Muslim conquest in 1453, but having ceased to be used as a mosque in 1948, became a museum in 1958. Now it has again become a mosque. On July 10, Erdogan announced that the Hagia Sophia, for nearly a millennium the grandest church and largest building in Christendom, had also “reverted” to its status as a mosque.
Erbas wrote on June 10 that “conquest expresses a great ideal and moral value in Islamic thought; it is a blessed struggle.” The word “struggle” here to bless the conquest of Istanbul appears to be used in the same religious context as the vow to “struggle” for Jerusalem: The secular Turkish government had once eschewed these religious goals, but the current leaders of Turkey see their cause as increasingly religious. Turkey has met with Iran and Malaysia and other countries to discuss an Islamic currency and Islamic television station over the last year.
As so often with Erdogan’s grand schemes, nothing has come of the “common Islamic currency” idea, nor is an “Islamic television station” in the offing: But it must have been fun to discuss such dreams, the same way that Muslims cheer themselves up by predicting that “Europe will be taken over by Islam by 2030.”
The comments by Turkey’s top religious official is an indication of how Turkey wants to oppose Israel’s plans for annexation. Erbas says that “those who occupy Jerusalem find courage because they see Islamic societies as scattered and weak.” This language is a reference to Israel and appears to hearken back to the period of Saladin, the Islamic leader who rallied the community against the Crusades.
Jerusalem has been a Jewish city, inhabited uninterruptedly by Jews, for more than 3,000 years. They are not “those who occupy Jerusalem,” but those who live, rather, in the city that has been identified with Jews and Judaism since 1000 B.C., when King David conquered the city and made it the capital of the Jewish kingdom. But why should Erbas care about anything that happened in the pre-Islamic period, the Jahiliyya or Time of Ignorance, to people who, the Qur’an tells him, are as Infidels “the most vile of created beings”? Erbas’s reference to the Jews finding courage from seeing Islamic communities as “scattered and weak” again brings to mind Erdogan’s earlier plan to remedy that, with a pan-Islamic army to be led by – who else? – Turkey:
The Turkish official appeared to channel the antisemitic comments that Malaysia’s leader Mahathir Mohamed is known for, accusing Israel of leading “the world to war and turmoil.” Mahathir had said in 2003 to the Organization of the Islamic Conference that “the Jews rule this world by proxy… not only are our governments divided, the Muslim ummah is also divided.” The Turkish leadership now calls for Palestinian issues to be emphasized in education in Turkey and to strengthen the country’s connection to Al-Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem. “Our president [Erdogan] advocates the loudest for the case of Jerusalem. Turkey will always be with all Muslims from East Turkestan [Xinjiang province in China] to Palestine.” The speech didn’t appear to mention Israel, suggesting that Turkey’s officials are increasingly spreading a message denying that Israel exists, similar to the messaging that Tehran’s regime uses:
Turkey “will be with all Muslims”? Turkey is certainly not “with” the nearly 40 million Muslim Kurds in Syria, Iraq, Iran and, especially, in Turkey itself, who desire an independent Kurdistan, as was once promised the Kurds after World War I. Nor is Turkey “with” the Muslim Syrians fighting in the civil war on the side of Bashar Assad; the Turks have been steadily attacking them in Idlib Province. Nor has Erdogan, who likes to present himself as the defender of oppressed Muslims everywhere, “been with” the ten million Muslim Uighurs. He was long silent about their mistreatment: “Turkey under Erdoğan has consistently stood with the Chinese oppressors,” says Salih Hudayar, the founder and president of East Turkistan National Awakening Movement. Then, after more than a year of silence, not Erdogan, but a low-level official in February 2019 chastised China: In a statement the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the reintroduction of internment camps and the systematic assimilation of Uighur Turks represent “a great shame for humanity. It is no longer a secret that more than 1 million Uighur Turks incurring arbitrary arrests are subjected to torture and political brainwashing.” And that was it. Turkey said no more about any mistreatment. Worse still, when Erdogan was on a visit to China in July 2019, he said that “Turkey firmly supports the One China policy, and it’s a fact that residents of all ethnicities in China’s Xinjiang are living happily amid China’s development and prosperity.” Of course, he’s not been alone in his moral pusillanimity; other Muslim nations have also refused to complain about China’s re-education camps for Uighurs, choosing not to antagonize the Chinese whose investments they seek. But given his pose as Defender of the Faith, more had been expected of Erdogan.
#AceNewsDesk report ………………Published: July.12: 2020: