Turkey: Record-Breaking Purge in Academia

Nearly three centuries later — and slightly revising the historian Shelby Foote‘s famous line — “A Turkish university, these days, is a group of buildings around a small library, a mosque and classrooms cleansed of unwanted scholars.”

The “Great Turkish Purge” launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist, autocratic government in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July surprised many in its size. It should not have done. The failed putsch gave Erdogan’s government a golden opportunity to advance his crackdown on dissent of every kind. No wonder Erdogan, on the night of the attempt, said: “This [coup attempt] is a gift of God”.

In its annual “Freedom in the World” report, entitled “Populists and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy,” the Washington-based Freedom House said on January 31 that Turkey suffered the largest decline in freedoms among 195 countries over the past year. Turkey’s aggregate score declined 15 points to 38 out of 100 (the most free) — from having been in 53rd place in the 2016 report. It did manage to maintain its “partly free” status for “freedoms” together with 59 other countries. “[A]n attempted coup in July… led the government to declare a state of emergency and carry out mass arrests and firings of civil servants, academics, journalists, opposition figures, and other perceived enemies,” the report said.

Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz said that a total of 33,065 personnel have been dismissed from his ministry, most of them teachers, educators and administrative staff. Of those purged, 3,855 have been detained on charges of “terrorism”.

Qualitatively speaking, the situation at Turkish universities is no better. Most university presidents, appointed by Erdogan, staunchly ally with his party politics and dismiss academics they view as “Erdogan’s political adversaries.”

Source: for MORE

Turkish President: Europeans Will Not Walk Safely Unless Demands Are Met

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gave a grim prognostication on Wednesday, just moments after a man ran over bystanders and stabbed a police officer in London.

“If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy,” Erdogan said at event in Ankara, according to Reuters.

The remarks come as Germany and the Netherlands have banned any campaigning for boosting Erdogan’s powers.

Source: for MORE

Europe’s Turkish Awakening

Turkey, officially, is a candidate for full membership in the European Union. It is also negotiating with Brussels a deal that would allow millions of Turks to travel to Europe without visa. But Turkey is not like any other European country that joined or will join the EU: The Turks’ choice of a leader, in office since 2002, too visibly makes this country the odd one out.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now campaigning to broaden his constitutional powers, which would make him head of state, head of government and head of the ruling party — all at the same time — is inherently autocratic and anti-Western. He seems to view himself as a great Muslim leader fighting armies of infidel crusaders. This image with which he portrays himself finds powerful echoes among millions of conservative Turks and [Sunni] Islamists across the Middle East. That, among other excesses in the Turkish style, makes Turkey totally incompatible with Europe in political culture.

Yet, there is always the lighter side of things. Take, for example, Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara and a bigwig in Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). In February Gokcek claimed that earthquakes in a western Turkish province could have been organized by dark external powers (read: Western infidels) aiming to destroy Turkey’s economy with an “artificial earthquake” near Istanbul. According to this conspiracy theory, the mayor not only claims that the earthquake in western Turkey was the work of the U.S. and Israel, but also that the U.S. created the radical Islamic State (ISIS). In fact, according to him, the U.S. and Israel colluded to trigger an earthquake in Turkey so they could capture energy from the Turkish fault line.

Source: for MORE

What Turkish Islamists Understand about ‘Education’

It is customary for Turkish TV crews to interview young students at the start of their mid-term holidays, with the cliché closing question invariably being, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This year’s school holiday in January was no exception. One interview, however, produced a chilling portrait of a girl, aged just 7 or 8.

“I have big goals,” she answered the interviewer. “They will get bigger and bigger. Step by step,” she said. The girl said she wanted to start by becoming a district or village head. Then a lawmaker, a minister, prime minister and finally the president of Turkey.

Up to this point, TV viewers must have watched her with amusement. Then the reporter asked her: “What would you do if you became the president?”

In a calculated, tranquil tone, the girl answered: “I would reinstate the death penalty”.

She was merely one of the products of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitious social engineering project to “raise devout generations“.

Source: for MORE

Turkey Jails American Pastor

American Pastor Andrew Brunson has been jailed in the city of Izmir, in western Turkey, on charges of “being a member of an armed terrorist organization”.

Brunson — a U.S. citizen from Black Mountain, North Carolina — has led Protestant churches in Turkey for over 23 years with the knowledge of local authorities, and has raised his family there.

Brunson and his wife, Norine, were summoned to the local police station in Izmir on October 7, 2016 to discuss their application to renew their visas. They thought they would be receiving a long-awaited permanent residence card; instead, they were detained by Turkish police.

While Norine was released 13 days later, Pastor Brunson was informed he would be detained until deportation, based on being a “threat to national security”.

Source: for MORE

Turkey Turns Church into Museum; Greece Builds New Mosque

Turkish newspapers have recently reported that plans are underway to restore the historic Greek Hagios Georgios Church, referred to as “Aya Yorgi” in Turkish. The church will be converted into a museum and a cultural site.

Osmaneli Mayor Munur Sahin said that the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, also visited the region, and said:

“We re-evaluated the situation of the church. This place will never be opened to worship again. It will serve as a museum and a cultural venue. We obtained the necessary permits; we will bring movable cultural artifacts from around Osmaneli and keep them here.”

The restoration project, approved by the Council of Monuments, is set to be finished in two years. The church lies in ruins — largely because the congregants were either murdered or forcibly deported during and after the 1914-1923 Greek genocide.

Source: for MORE

Turkey and Terrorists

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a good point when, a day after a terrorist attack in Istanbul killed 38 people on Dec. 10, he said that he condemned all terrorism in Turkey and expected that Turkey did the same when terror targeted Israel. “The fight against terrorism must be mutual,” Netanyahu said. “It must be mutual in condemnation and in countermeasures, and this is what the State of Israel expects from all countries it is in contact with, including Turkey,” Netanyahu said a day before Ankara and Jerusalem formally normalized their frozen diplomatic relations. Netanyahu’s expectation was legitimate but not realistic, especially with Turkey.

A few days later, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued an order outlawing the Istanbul-based International Kanadil Institute for Humanitarian Aid, a Turkish aid group, accusing it of funnelling money to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. “The Kanadil foundation is identified with Hamas and with the Muslim Brotherhood and in recent years had been used as a main pipeline for funding projects by Hamas in Jerusalem,” Lieberman’s spokesperson said in a statement. Turkey’s logistical and political support for its ideological next of kin, Hamas, did not come as a surprise, despite normalization with Israel: for Turkey’s rulers, there are terrorists, and terrorists who go with fancy tags.

In a November interview with Israel’s Channel 2, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he does not view Hamas as a terrorist organization. He called it instead a “political movement born from [a] national resurrection.” He also said he meets with Hamas “all the time.”

Source: for MORE