We have been witnessing the rise of Islamo-Fascism in Turkey in the last few years. Indeed the official ideology of both Turkish state and the governing party AKP is called “Turkish-Islamic synthesis”, which means the exclusion of ethnically non-Turks and religiously non-Sunnite minorities from the public sphere by suppressing the public expression of their identities. In this particular conjuncture in which we live, the so-called “Islamic” aspect of this kind of fascism has gained prominence. And this not without reason: since about 2009-10, Turkey-European Union (EU) relations increasingly deteriorated, Turkey begun to look for new partners in Mideast and soon established strong relations with the dictatorial Gulf States (especially Qatar).
Then it began to sponsor with its new partners the jihadist organizations like Al-Nusra or IS (Islamic State) in the hope of overthrowing Bashar al-Assad regime and thus planned to turn the vast Sunnite regions in Iraq and Syria into its backyard. So these Sunnite regions in Iraq and Syria would be leverage for geopolitical as well as economic power for Turkey.
The second main reason of the rise of Islamo-Fascism in recent years had to do with domestic politics: the ruling party AKP endeavored to consolidate its electoral base and succeeded in this policy. Indeed this is a classic in Turkish politics: when right wing-conservative parties create networks for the distribution of wealth and rent from which only a narrow group of businessmen and followers benefit and large segments of the population can’t take any share, the best way to get out of this impasse is to polarize the society around nationalistic (i.e., Turkish) and religious (Sunnite-Muslim) “values” and “claims”. As the majority of Turkey’s population is Turkish and Sunnite Muslim, this tactic has almost worked mainly due to the lack of a comprehensive popular opposition movement which organizes to improve the life conditions of the poor Turkish and Sunnite people.
Of course there were revolutionary movements, especially during 70’s, which endeavored to make connections with the workers and poors, succeeded to a certain extent and then crushed mercilessly by the 1980 military coup.
How the pro-government Islamist media has reacted to Charlie Hebdo massacre?
We may summarize the reactions of the pro-government Islamist media by mentioning some of the arguments that they have mostly resorted to :
One of the most used arguments by the pundits in the Islamic media was this: “While hundreds of thousands Muslims in Syria and Iraq were being killed and wounded, the West didn’t show any interest. Yet these are the Western powers which are responsible of the Muslim people’s sufferings. So the West adopts a double standard. We condemn the terrorist attack to Charlie Hebdo, however everyone knew that one day the fire they had started in Mideast would burn the Westerners themselves.”
Or the following argument: “If you [meaning the Western powers] militarily intervene so ruthlessly in Muslim countries, if you exclude Muslim migrant minorities in Europe, if you fuel anti-Muslim racist movements throughout Europe, then you should bear the consequences of your policy.”
And another one contrasting the innocence of the Muslim world with the savagery of West: “The Muslim world, its beliefs and culture are not responsible of the Charlie Hebdo attack. Terror is merely a consequence, not the reason. So we must look and discuss the reasons leading to this kind of terror. And we all know that it was the Western policy toward Mideast which exported terror in our region. The Charlie Hebdo attack is nothing but a reaction to the mass slaughters, tortures and humiliations committed by U.S. and its allies in the Muslim world.”
The above conclusion obviously legitimizes the barbarous attack to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists by reducing it to a mere “reaction” against the Western terror in Muslim territories. Hence I call this attitude as “Islamo-Fascist”.
Another set of views reveals more clearly the Islamo-Fascist character of the pundits in the Islamic media. According to these views, values such as freedom of thought and expression shouldn’t be consecrated and imposed to the Islamic world in the name of a supposedly higher civilization (meaning Western civilization). Those secular intellectuals, journalists etc. in Turkey who are condemning Charlie Hebdo attack in the name of freedom of expression are indeed advocating the right of insulting to the Prophet. We, the Islamic civilization, don’t need to adopt the values of the West which is the prime culprit of the mess in the Muslim world.
These views should be labeled as anti-Western, an ominous approach just like the Islamophobia, and should be condemned as another call for “clash of civilizations”. But the real intent is of course different. This kind of mentality which pretends to elevate the Islamic civilization and values, indeed aims to deprive peoples of Turkey of the basic democratic rights, such as freedom of expression.
I want to underline one last point. Some pundits in the pro-government media are concerned with the long term interests of Turkish state instead of adopting an explicit Islamo-Fascist discourse: “We all see how terrorism is an ultimate evil. Terror doesn’t have a particular race, politics or religion, ‘terror is terror’. So why don’t we collaborate against the terrorist organizations in Turkey, such as PKK for example?” Of course this is the classical opportunistic attitude of the Turkish ruling elite: to obtain an advantage even from a disaster occurred elsewhere in the world.
The hypocrisy of the Islamo-Fascist pro-government media
When you read the arguments I mentioned above, you can easily find some overlapping points with the dissident Western intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Gilbert Achcar: double standards of the West, the essential responsibility of the Western powers in the actual chaos prevailing in Mideast and so on.
However there is a crucial difference: the Western dissident intellectuals are basically questioning the involvement of their own governments in the chaos that is prevailing in Mideast, something that Turkish columnists refrain themselves. If you are a Turkish columnist, there are some questions that you should answer before blaming the Western powers.
That the U.S.-Britain military occupation of Iraq and Western support for the so-called “rebel groups” in Syria have dismantled state structures and undermined the main pillars of social life is obviously true. Sure, but what about the regional powers? Haven’t they participated to this power game?
Of course they have participated. Regional powers such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey were very active in intervening in the Syrian civil war since the beginning. For instance Turkey supported at the beginning the so-called “moderate armed rebels”, then turned towards salafi groups like Al-Nusra and lastly IS as these became dominant armed forces against Assad regime.
So “the innocence of the Muslim world” and “the wickedness of the West” is nothing but a demagogy serving to hide the culpability of the regional powers in the atrocities committed by their favorite “rebel groups”.
When Islamist media in Turkey claims that the West closed its eye to the death of hundreds of thousands Muslims, it ignores that it behaved just in the same manner.
One can give many examples about this “double standard”. When IS captured Tal Afar in June 2014 and killed many Shiite Turkomen and forced thousands of them to flee from their homeland, neither the Turkish government nor the Islamist media paid any attention to this atrocity. Then IS attacked the homeland of Yazidis, the Sinjar mountain in August, massacred thousands of them, many more had to escape to neighboring countries and those who took refuge in the mountain starved from cold and famine. Yet I haven’t heard any outcry from the Islamist pro-government media.
In mid-September IS attacked Kobane, one of the three Kurdish cantons which together constitute “Rojava Autonomous Region” (Syrian Kurdistan). We all know that if the brave Kurdish resistance were unsuccessful, Kurdish residents who didn’t fly to Turkey would all be massacred. Once again the Islamic media didn’t blame the IS for killing the Kurds who are Sunnite Muslims and therefore should be considered by the pro-government Islamists as religious fellows.
Meanwhile during the summer and autumn 2014 all Christian minorities – Armenians, Assyrians and others – living in the region captured by IS in Iraq and Syria had to leave their lands where they have been living for centuries. This tragic situation of the Christian minorities was not a serious concern for the Islamist media. The “conservative intellectuals” who are now criticizing the West for its horrendous crimes in the Muslim world didn’t protest or condemn the atrocities of IS.
And this entire demagogy by the Islamo-Fascist media has a definite aim: to legitimize or at least gain some sympathy for IS, a close ally of Turkey for the moment. And let’s not forget that IS is actively organizing some segments of the Islamist youth within Turkey under the auspices of Turkish government. I’m afraid that the most imminent danger to the social peace in Turkey will be this new jihadist generation.
 The following arguments that I placed in inverted commas are not quotations in the proper sense. I only summarized the views of the some Islamist media pundits. The newspapers which I have reviewed are Yeni Akit, Yeni Şafak and Sabah. I have reviewed some pieces of the following columnists: Abdurahman Dilipak and Ali Karahasanoğlu (from Yeni Akit), Akif Emre, Hilal Kaplan, Özlem Albayrak and İbrahim Karagül (from Yeni Şafak) and Mahmut Övür, Mehmet Barlas and Okan Müderrisoğlu (from Sabah). Sabah newspaper shouldn’t be considered as an “Islamist” media outlet. It’s rather a seemingly “liberal” daily which is doing the propaganda of the government’s views from another perspective.
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