Immediately after the attempted Putschan eye witness reported Erdogan’s first big appearance:

“It felt like an eternity that Erdogan just stood there while the crowd chanted: ‘Here is the army! Here is the Commander, and ‘Just say it and we will kill! Just say it and we will die!’ And there was always the following accompanying the chants: ‘Allahu Akbar!’ – ‘God is great!’”

In Turkey we are experiencing a second Islamist seizure of power, which supposedly is comparable to that in Pakistan and in Iran. Surprisingly, however, nothing has yet come of it.

In my 2015 blog “Turkey is a uniquely terrible disappointment: Has Erdogan always been an Islamist, or has he returned to Islamism?” I wrote:

“‘There are good reasons to think that, in his heart, Erdogan has remained what he was as the mayor of Istanbul, and that he is implementing the Ist agenda with a much more long term strategy than the very clumsy strategy used by the short term Egyptian President Mursi. Mursi wanted to implement Islamism in five minutes and thereby failed because of the opposition of the Army, which Erdogan first checkmated before implementing his larger agenda.’

In any case, Erdogan’s system is equally as corrupt as all the Islamist systems. He makes absurd demands, such as teaching the Ottoman language in schools, although he cannot speak it. He has absurd goals, such as the reconstitution of the Ottoman Empire—dangerous for all neighboring states! Religious rules are imposed on all citizens of Turkey. The rule of law has been replaced by corruption, while the judiciary and police have become the front line for the rule of power.

In his youth Erdogan was a member of the militant Turkish-Islamist underground organization, Akincilar Dernegi. Since 1970 he had leading positions in the various Islamist parties that took over from one another after they were outlawed, until the founding of the AKP in 2001. As the mayor of Istanbul (1994-1998) he promoted Islamist policies, for example, school busses divided by gender and a prohibition of alcohol at city facilities. In 1994 he described the EU as an association of Christians from which Turkey had nothing to gain. It was, in his assessment, impossible to be Muslim and to tolerate a secular government. In 1998 he was sentenced to prison because he positively quoted the following poem in a speech:

‘Democracy is only a train which we are boarding until we arrive at our destination. Mosques are our military bases, minarets our bayonets, domes our helmets, and believers our soldiers.’

Should we not have known? Although we must be ready to recognize that people can change, should we not have kept in the back of our minds something about the way in which Erdogan started his career as an Islamist? Should we not have understood the ongoing indications of Islamist leanings by turns of phrases from his mouth against this background? And shouldn’t these questions have been more frequently and extensively discussed among non-Muslim politicians?

There have been many other similar examples where people do not want to perceive Islamism, even when it is standing in plain sight. For example, the King Fahd Academy in Bonn-Bad Godesberg (Germany) has been celebrated by politicians and church leaders as a place of mutual understanding for peoples and religions, as if that had ever or anywhere been the goal of Saudi Arabia. Today central Bad Godesberg has as many business signs and advertisements in Arabic as in German, and Bonn has become a virtual Mecca for Islamists. In comparison by population size, there is no other German city with so many Islamists.

To be sure, this does not have to do with Schadenfreude, nor with claiming, ‘we always knew.’ Turkey, under the rule of law, protecting human rights, would not only have been extremely desirable, but would also have had enormous effects across the Muslim world.

In any case, whether or not the dream of a democratic Turkey ever had a chance of becoming reality, or if Erdogan is only a polished tactician who is able to hold his breath for a long time: the dream has come to an end, and under President Erdogan, Turkey is seeking to position itself as the leading voice of all Muslims, including violent Muslims, in direct competition with Iran and Saudi Arabia. Turkey is no longer a part of the solution for violence in the Middle East; it is now a part of the problem. Realpolitik must very soberly take that fact into foreign policy calculations.”

 

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