Facing the music
Have you heard the one about Turkey being run by religious fanatics who have very little tolerance for other faiths?
Should you have missed it I have a summary for you: The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party has a hidden agenda to turn Turkey into an Islamofascist state, and it receives assistance in the form of 'green money' emanating from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Turkey's traditionally secular educational system is being steadily supplanted by madrassa-style imam hatip schools and other institutions where students are taught only the Koran and its interpretation according to Islamofascists. In the name of internationally mandated reform of Turkey's banking system, the government is seizing assets and operations of banks run by businessmen associated with the political opposition.
If you are unaware of the fact that Turkey is run by fanatics and Islamofascists, I have some more news for you: Emboldened by Washington's silence and frustrated at the constraints of an independent judiciary, the Turkish leader has used his parliamentary majority to lower the retirement age of judges so that he can replace nearly half of Turkey's 9,000 judges before the next election.
As the quotation marks signify, those paragraphs are from two articles. The writer of the former is Frank J. Gaffney Jr. and it appeared in The Washington Times. The latter, written by Michael Rubin, is from the Israeli daily Haaretz. They both came out last week. They depict Turkey in an entirely twisted manner.
None of the details attributed to the present government in the articles are based on truth. They're utterly false. There's been a decline in Imam Hatip schools over the last three years with the AK Party in power and the schools in question teach a secular curriculum in addition to some religious classes. It's not the government or any political body which decides to take over banks and end their operations but independent institutions. There's no such policy for the early retirement of judges, and new judges will be employed in the same way they have been for years.
Americans and Israelis who've read these humbugs have been ill-informed and fed with false accounts, detrimental to the bilateral relations of the countries concerned. Turkey is not the country the writers of these articles are trying to besmirch, and the government has done nothing to deserve such treatment. Though the articles accuse the government of it, it was a public prosecutor's decision open a case against Orhan Pamuk, and the internationally renowned author has received strong support from prominent figures in the AK Party who've stressed his right to free speech. The justice system is independent in Turkey and judges act independently from the government.
Gaffney and Rubin aren't alone in their endeavors. A group of intellectuals in Washington D.C. have also been trying to discredit Turkey and the Turkish government for quite some time now. They've been to extreme lengths to insinuate that the ruling party and politicians who run Turkey are anti-Semitic.
Why? Why is a group of intellectuals in the U.S. making so much effort to write counter-productive articles which will hound them in their professional lives? What's their motive? Is it fame, money, or sheer vengeance? Many in Ankara, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have been asking these questions and trying to find plausible answers.
One of the writers, Gaffney, has links to the Livingston Group, as daily Hurriyet disclosed. Robert Livingston is the lobbyist Turkey has been paying huge amounts of money to him so that he defends Turkeys interests in the U.S. Turkey is eager to enter the European Union and its lobbyist has to further this case, whereas in his article Gaffney asked European leaders not to accept Ankara as a member. The other writer, Rubin, is known for his close ties to the Israeli ruling elite.
When I was in the U.S. a fortnight ago, Turkish journalists based in Washington were discussing the forbidden "C" word: Coup detat. Yasemin Congar, who represents daily Milliyet in the U.S. capital, wrote a column claiming that certain people there have started to discuss whether Turkey is on the verge of yet another military coup. My inquiries as to who those people were led me to the same people: Rubin and Gaffney Those in the know intimated to me that all of them have links with the same figure: Richard Perle.
Surprising, is it not? Perle, a.k.a. Prince of Darkness, was known to be a friend of Turkey. He visits Turkey frequently, meets with prominent people and represents some of their interests in the U.S. Are Perle and his friends are trying to besmirch Turkey?
It may sound unbelievable but it's true.
The Gaffney article attracted strong responses from two sources: The U.S. Embassy in Ankara was quick to distance itself from the writer, saying that Gaffneys ideas don't represent those of the U.S. government. Another reaction the same article attracted was from the Jewish community in Turkey: They accused the writer of being biased and of trying to sabotage Turkish-U.S. relations.
This is the beauty of public debates: When someone writes nonsense, they have to be ready to face the music. Perle is in Turkey now and he must be getting on-the-spot reactions for his actions. I humbly suggest he avoid bumping into Tayyip Erdogan as, when I last saw him, Prime Minister Erdogan was fuming with rage.
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