Turkey Rises Against Islamist Rule
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The ruling AKP has arrested students unhappy with increased tuition fees and journalists accused of "terrorism." Turkey has more journalists in jail than any other country.
Turkey has been swept by demonstrations against the Islamist regime of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The uprising, as it has become, began after police assaulted peaceful protestors opposed to the environmental degradation of Istanbul. By Monday, June 3 – the fourth day of clashes – the clamor against removal of trees from Gezi Park, adjoining the great city's main Taksim Square, had also spread to the Turkish capital, Ankara, and the country's symbol of its past urban diversity, Izmir. A civic action with an ecological message had become a mobilization of Turkey's disaffected secular masses.
Police have fired tear gas at the growing crowds, numbering in the hundreds of thousands; the protestors have reacted in some places by setting up barricades and throwing stones. The police use of gas was especially prolific in the Beyoglu and Besiktas neighborhoods of Istanbul on June 1. Other citizens have taken to the balconies of their homes and apartment buildings, banging on empty pots to express their discontent with Erdogan. The people are chanting for the resignation of "dictator" Erdogan, and warning him, "Tayyip, see our strength." Containers of building materials intended for the "reconstruction" of Gezi Park have been burned.
Some 500 people were arrested in Istanbul early Monday, along with 300 in Izmir. Previously during the weekend, according to Interior Minister Muammer Guler, 1,700 citizens were detained in 67 towns to which the confrontation had spread. The Turkish Medical Association has reported that about 3,200 people have been injured. Courageous medical personnel, often the real heroes in such street battles, have rushed to their aid, setting up an emergency clinic. Two participants in the protests have been killed. Mehmet Ayvalitas, 20, was struck by a car that drove into the demonstrators in Istanbul on Sunday, while Abdullah Comert, 22, received a fatal head injury during a protest in Antakya near the Syrian border. One woman was admitted to hospital with a fractured skull. Lawyers were recruited to defend the arrested.
Erdogan has threatened the people with his customary rhetoric, describing the demonstrators as "looters," accusing them of alignment with terrorists, charging opposition politicians with provocation, and warning that the national intelligence services will identify "internal and external" enemies. "We will settle accounts with them," Erdogan declared crudely. By his manner, this Islamist betrays both his lack of civility and his pretensions to absolute power.
It appears, however, that the citizens of the Turkish Republic are "settling accounts" with Erdogan.
Erdogan held to his plan to depart the country on an official tour of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. This flight from a political challenge is evidence of weakness, not confidence. The leadership of Erdogan's administration and his "Justice and Development Party" (known as the AKP) is divided. President Abdullah Gul defended the protestors' rights on Monday. Gul stated, "Democracy does not mean elections alone. There can be nothing more natural for the expression of various views, various situations and objections through a variety of ways, besides elections." Erdogan's former Culture Minister, Ertugrul Gunay, explained that the people seeking to protect Gezi Park wanted no more than to preserve one of the few green areas remaining in Istanbul.
Nothing could better illustrate the depth of the social crisis in Turkey than the split at the top of the power structure. Protestors fear Erdogan's authoritarianism and Islamist ideology. Political differentiation has extended to the business class. Erdogan intended to transform Gezi Park into a shopping mall, but Turkish fashion designers said they would not open outlets in the proposed structure.
In the past, the prime minister's uncompromising stance was successful. But now the angry populace, among the most worldly in Muslim countries, has caused its failure. The ruling AKP has arrested students unhappy with increased tuition fees and journalists accused of "terrorism." Turkey has more journalists in jail than any other country. Then came a ban on alcohol, which, although conforming to Islamic religious principles, has been rare in Muslim lands.
Erdogan was revered like an idol for his perverse form of modernization. The economy grew. Turkey bid for recognition as a regional power. The conflict with the Kurdish revolutionary movement was, at least formally, brought to an end.
But rage was building among secular citizens, liberals, and the left. They are dissatisfied with a political leader who ignores human rights. The Turkish media do not report on the situation clearly and accurately. Eyes are closed while people are victimized.
The world needs to open its eyes and perceive the danger of Recep Tayyip Erdogan for regional stability and pluralism. Erdogan has overreached; a new Turkish revolution may have begun. On Tuesday, the Confederation of Public Workers' Unions, known from its Turkish name as KESK, called for a two-day strike against Erdogan's "fascism." The people of Turkey have promised to resist Erdogan's authoritarian ambitions until victory is achieved.
Comment on this item
by Burak Bekdil
In Turkey however, the protests were not peaceful. They included smashing a sculpture than was neither Jewish nor Israeli.
It was the usual "We-Muslims-can-kill each other-but-Jews-cannot" hysteria.
If Turkish crowds were protesting against Israel in a political dispute, why Koranic slogans? Why were they protesting in Arabic rather than their native language? Do Turks chant German slogans to protest nuclear energy?
by Burak Bekdil
So in the EU-candidate Turkey, a pianist should be punished for his re-tweets, but a pop-singer should be congratulated for her first-class racist hate-speech. This is contagious.
No reporter present at Mr. Ihsanoglu's campaign launch speech thought about asking him if his commitment to the "Palestinian cause" included any affirmation of the Hamas Charter, in particular a section that says, "…The stones and trees will say, 'O Muslims, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"
Turkey is also the country where a few years earlier, a group of school teachers (yes, school teachers!) gathered in a demonstration to commemorate Hitler.
by Debalina Ghoshal
Despite Chapter VII of the UN Charter and UNSC Resolutions, it seems that North Korea will continue developing its missiles -- and eventually weaponize them with nuclear warheads.
"North Korea's ballistic and nuclear threat is very much a near-term threat. ... Steady progression in their program is not harmless." — Victor Cha, Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
On March 26, 2014, North Korea reportedly test-fired medium-range ballistic Rodong missiles -- capable of reaching Japan and U.S. military bases in the Asia-Pacific region.
Since February, South Korean officials claim that North Korea has confirmed at least 90 test-firings, among which ten were ballistic missiles.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
It is important to note that these cease-fire demands are not part of Hamas's or Islamic Jihad's overall strategy, namely to have Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
Many foreign journalists who came to cover the war in the Gaza trip were under the false impression that it was all about improving living conditions for the Palestinians by opening border crossings and building an airport and seaport. These journalists really believed that once the demands of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are accepted, this would pave the way for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
To understand the true intention of Hamas and its allies, it is sufficient to follow the statements made by their leaders after the cease-fire announcement this week. To his credit, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's leader, has never concealed Hamas's desire to destroy Israel.
Hamas and its allies see the war in the Gaza Strip as part of there strategy to destroy Israel. What Hamas and its allies are actually saying is, "Give us open borders and an airport and seaport so we can use them to prepare for the next war against Israel."
by Burak Bekdil
A front-page headline was particularly revealing: They (Israel) bombed a mosque in Gaza! Including the exclamation mark!
A quick internet search, if you typed "mosque bombing Shiite-Sunni," would give you 782,000 results on July 16.
Why did we not hear one single Turkish voice protest the death of 300,000 Muslims in Darfur?
Hamas's Charter is must-read fun.