Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Erodgan, Ergenekon, Europe and the Islamisation of Turkey

By Elizabeth Kendal

A column by Andrew C. McCarthy, in National Review Online, has motivated me to find time -- between writing on pogroms, massacres, dispossession, imprisonments and tortures -- to highlight a grossly under-appreciated and deeply-controversial matter: How Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is exploiting European ignorance and timidity to advance Islamisation in Turkey.

In his column, entitled, "Why Turkey Will Never Join the EU" (NRO, 29 Sept 2012), McCarthy has a lot to say about Turkey, Islam and Europe that is of critical importance.  I have long shared his view. It is a position that has frequently put me at odds with European evangelicals.

McCarthy opens with these words: "When Recep Tayyip Erdogan became prime minister of Turkey, it was anything but clear that he would last more than a few months. The military, the constitutional guardian of Atatürk's secular order, had killed the Islamist administration of Erdogan's mentor, Necmettin Erbakan, only a few years earlier. At the time, Erdogan was jailed for several months as a seditionist. Though he was nonetheless permitted to assume the prime minister's office in 2003 after leading his Islamist party to victory, the man who famously proclaimed 'I am a servant of sharia' still aroused great suspicion.

"To survive and thrive, Erdogan would have to find ways to erode and nullify his Kemalist opponents. Thanks to Europe, he had cards to play."

As McCarthy notes, Turkish integration into the West had long been a "Kemalist dream". Erdogan, however, knows the truth: European leaders will never accept Turkey into the European Union (EU).

Terrified of being accused of Islamophobia, European elites have opened their arms to Turkey while setting up a process -- a series of hoops through which Turkey must jump -- the end result of which will be EU-Integration. Knowing Turkey will never achieve EU-integration -- and not caring, because he doesn't actually want it -- Erdogan is masterfully exploiting the situation to advance his own agenda: the Islamisation of Turkey.

"For", writes McCarthy, "among the steps Turkey must theoretically climb on the ladder to Euro-worthiness are religious liberty, the separation of religion and the state, and civilian control of the military. As Erdogan saw, the EU-integration process was the surest way to cow the generals into accepting elected Islamists and to break secularist constraints on Islamic supremacism."

McCarthy describes Islam as "totalitarianism packaged as 'religion'". I likewise have described Islam as totalitarianism concealed under or protected by a cloak of religion. It is precisely because socio-political, imperialistic, totalitarian Islam covers itself with "religion", it can appeal to religious liberty every time it is challenged. Furthermore, it is precisely because Islam is totalitarian and supremacist, that "liberty and Sharia cannot share the same space".

"In Turkey," writes McCarthy, "the administrators of the Kemalist governmental model — comprising Muslims who understood Islam intimately [better than the EU] — suppressed Islam not to deny freedom of conscience but to enable it. They were trying to forge exactly the sort of secular civil society Europeans revere. They knew it could not coexist with sharia. Thus, the government assumed supervision of the country's 80,000 mosques, vetted the imams, controlled the content of sermons and literature, and aggressively monitored the Islamic charities. The Muslims running the state realized that Islam would inevitably work against secular civil society if left to its own devices. [. . .]

McCarthy makes the point that the difference between Turkey and the West, is that Turkey has been trying to "cultivate freedom in an Islamic setting, not preserve freedom in a preexisting culture of liberty". And, he notes, "In a mainstream-Islamic society, the threat of reversion to a freedom-devouring sharia societal system always looms."

"Kemalist Muslims wanted a flourishing civil society but realized they could not keep one unless Islam's supremacist proclivities were permanently checked. Though very far from perfect, they were trying to establish a prosperous, Western-style nation-state. The Kemalists, unlike sharia adherents, never sought to strangle freedom of conscience. There was never any prohibition on being a Muslim, believing in Islam, or privately adhering to Islam's spiritual elements. It was Islam's extra-spiritual aspects — political, social, economic, military, etc. — that were the problem. Without the military as a bulwark against Islamic supremacism, freedom of conscience and liberty in general would be doomed."

But, as McCarthy notes, Europe will have none of it, arrogantly insisting that history is flowing irresistibly towards European-style secular humanism and Western-style democracy.

To summarise: European elites don't actually want Turkey in the EU. But rather than stand accused of Islamophobia, they hold out the promise of integration, as soon as Turkey reaches the unreachable state of "reformed". Meanwhile, Erdogan ,who has nothing but Islamist contempt for the West and would not join the EU unless it was to dominate it, "continues to leverage this European pressure for Turkish reform because it serves the Islamist cause of weakening the Turkish military and breaking Atatürk's shackles on supremacist Islam — all under the ironic guise of promoting 'religious liberty'."

See: Why Turkey Will Never Join the EU 
By Andrew C. McCarthy
National Review Online, 29 Sept 2010.


One of the most significant scams Erodgan has pulled off, enabling him to repress and persecute all opposition while still impressing the Europeans, has been the Ergenekon investigation.

Supposedly created to prosecute members of a "Deep State" conspiracy, the Ergenekon investigation has been used to harass, persecute and silence opposition, particularly those associated with the Constitutional Court and the Military.

Hundreds of Turks -- including journalists, academics, geriatric authors, transsexual actors etc as well as Kemalist politicians, Generals and judges -- have been detained without charge and without evidence, for no other apparent reason than they expressed opposition to Erdogan's pro-Islamist Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi - AKP) or to the Islamisation of Turkey in general.

The AKP also exploits the Ergenekon investigation as a means to shift the blame for every act of Islamic religious hatred or terrorism on to secularists. "It goes without saying that a disinformation campaign which holds Ergenekon ultimately responsible for all the violence previously attributed to Islamist groups is unlikely to encourage those who are best-placed to identify potential Islamist terrorists to be more vigilant." (Jenkins, Terrorism Monitor, 3 Oct 2008)

In a parallel case code-named "Sledgehammer", more than 300 active and retired military officers were recently sentenced to prison terms on charges relating to an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government. Bill Park, a senior lecturer who specialises in Turkish foreign and security policy at King's College, London, comments that as a worst case scenario, "Kemalist/secularist officers are now more generally purged as part of an Islamist long march through Turkey's institutions".

Ergenekon -- Recommended reading:

Turkey's New Islamism
By David Pryce-Jones, National Review Online, 27 Sept 2012

Erdogan, Ergenekon, and the Struggle for Turkey
By Michael Rubin, Middle East Forum, 8 Aug 2008.

Between Fact and Fantasy: Turkey's Ergenekon Investigation
Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program
Silk Road Paper,  by Gareth H. Jenkins, August 2009.

The Impact of the Ergenekon Investigation on Turkish Counterterrorism Operations
Jamestown, Terrorism Monitor, Volume: 6 Issue: 19
By Gareth Jenkins, 3 October 2008

includes Sledgehammer 

GLORIA Centre, Global Research in International Affairs.
By Gareth Jenkins, 29 August 2011

The Ergenekon investigation gets out of control
Caspian Intelligence, 10 January 2012

Turkey's Sledgehammer Coup verdict: justice or Soviet-style show trial?
Turkish court's jailing of hundreds of military officers over Erdogan coup plot revives fears of return to authoritarian rule.
By Simon Tisdall, for the Guardian, 25 September 2012

Turkey’s Massive Military Trial Opens Old Wounds and New Anxieties
Claims of procedural and evidentiary anomalies in a huge trial of coup plotters raise criticism of the Erdogan administration. Is the Prime Minister trying too hard to bury the military — and Turkish secularism?
By Pelin Turgut in Istanbul for TIME, 24 Sept 2012

Hundreds Convicted in Turkish Coup Trial
By EMRE PEKER, Wall Street Journal
21 September 2012.

The Ergenekon and Sledgehammer investigations are not the only show trial campaigns being waged against those who oppose Erdogan, the AKP and/or Islamisation.

In a trial that has been dubbed the KCK case, "193 men and women are being judged on charges of 'membership in an illegal organization', legalese for 'terrorism'. The defendants were arrested for either teaching or taking classes at academies set up by the BDP, the Peace and Democracy Party, a liberal coalition political party dominated by the Kurdish minority and dedicated to establishing equality for all of Turkey's minorities. According to the ruling AK Party under Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan, participation in any form at these academies -- even the tea servers were arrested -- meant membership in the KCK, the urban branch of the Kurdish guerrilla movement.

"Among these supposed trainers of Kurdish terrorists in the mountains are also non-Kurds, such as Ragip Zarakolu, a publisher and Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Busra Ersanli, a professor of political science. Authorities have charged the aged and infirm as well, including Zekiye Ayik, an elderly woman who never learned to read or write, and Muhsin Yenisöz, a man who has to be frequently hospitalized for heart disease. These four, due to significant outside pressure, were released on bond at the end of the first phase of the trial in July, but are still being tried. Most of the defendants remain in prison, including my 60 year old father-in-law, Kemal Seven, a former elementary school teacher and instructor at the academies."

From: Turkey's Treacherous Show Trials
By Jeffrey Wade Gibbs, for Gatestone Institute. 1 October 2012
Gibbs is an American writer and teacher who has been living in Istanbul for five years.

None of this bodes well for religious freedom or for the Church in Turkey. Incredibly though, it is all being done in the name of religious liberty and democracy, to cheers and congratulations from the West.

It is a travesty that the European Parliament has supported these clearly political investigations which do nothing to advance democracy or liberty but plenty to advance totalitarianism, Islamisation and a climate of fear.