The events in the last couple of weeks seem to confirm that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions for a Turkey-led ummah (Muslim community) are not welcome in the Arab world. This emerging divide among Sunni Islamists — Turkey, Saudi Arabia et al — is important for the West.
In Turkey, a hysteria has set in. It appears a national competition of patriotism has captured the Turkish imagination. Screams of martyrdom and jihad can be heard echoing across the country. Even children are not spared from the ugly “death talk.”
There is a story behind this jihadist euphoria. In 2016, Turkey’s Religious Affairs General Directorate (Diyanet), the ultimate religious authority in the country, issued comic books to the nation’s children telling them how glorious it is to become an Islamic martyr. One cartoon was a dialogue between a father and his son. “How marvelous it is to become a martyr,” the father says. Unconvinced, the son asks: “Would anyone want to become a martyr?” “Yes” the father replies, “one would. Who doesn’t want to win heaven?”