Anatomy of the fight with Europe - KEMAL ÖZTÜRK

Anatomy of the fight with Europe

I asked a friend for a three- to four-day summary of the German media, and for some reason, the news and comments seemed very familiar. Whatever the Turkish media's attitude toward German policies is, the position in Germany is the same in the opposite direction.

Turkey in German media

It appears that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's statements, especially his comparison of the current German government to Nazis, have provoked the German media quite a bit.

One of the major German dailies, Bild, published the headline, “When will Merkel's patience run out?” She is being criticized for keeping her silence amid Erdoğan'd harsh comments.

Bild is in favor of all Turkish politicians being barred from speaking in Germany. The tone used in the article is interesting: “Why are these Turkish haters allowed to speak in our country?” The newspaper is reacting toward Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi's speech.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has also reached the verge of severing ties: “Germany is not a country that is very dependent on Turkey. It has shown great patience until now.”

Propaganda turning to violence in Europe

I guess if we were to review the Dutch, French and Austrian media, we would come across similar articles since Turkey has become the main talk in European election campaigns just as it was one of the main issues in the U.K.'s Brexit referendum.

This is called making foreign politics a matter of domestic politics, and it is extremely dangerous because its affects can turn into violence.

Migrants, Islamophobia and Turkophobia are currently the nerve toward which the European public is most sensitive. Politicians are gaining votes by touching this nerve. After a while, all the anti-Turkey and anti-Islam comments, statements and propaganda made to collect votes come back as violence.

Ninety-one mosques were set on fire in Germany in 2016 alone. As many as 40 percent of Germans are in favor of banning Muslims from entering the country.

A total of 48 percent of the people in the Netherlands want Muslims' citizenship rights revoked.

In 2016, there were more than 1,000 Islamophobia-related attacks in the U.K. As many as 60 percent of the attacks were aimed at Muslim women.

In the same year, more than 360 attacks took place in France.

There were 100 hate crime and violent attacks that targeted Muslims in the Netherlands, 30 in Sweden, 90 in Austria and 20 in Belgium.

The total number of Islamophobic and anti-migrant attacks in Europe in 2016 exceeded 2,000 (Source: @trdiplomasi).

Increase in number of people joining Daesh in Europe

As you can see, the more politicians increase their anti-Turkey and Islamophobic discourse, the more it reflects through society as violence. The more violence increases, the more radical approaches increase. And it is terrorist organizations that take best advantage of this.

According to a 2014 study by former FBI agent Ali Soufan, Daesh received recruits from 86 countries. The number of militants joining the terrorist organization from Western Europe doubled in the course of a year. As many as 5,000 militants have joined Daesh from Europe.

The higher these numbers reach, the more it becomes apparent that Daesh militants are from Europe and the more the hate and violence toward Muslims increases. This further instigates radicalization on the opposite side. In other words, Europe is struggling in a vicious cycle, with both sides feeding one another.

This propaganda, and thus the incidents of violence, are certainly expected to increase in the elections to be held within the next two years in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary.

So, what are Muslim countries, and especially Turkey, doing to counter this?

UN: 'Islamophobia is the source of global terrorism'

In a speech he made in February 2017, newly elected U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres made a very sound observation: “The cause of increased global terrorism is Islamophobia.” However, the matter was never seriously brought up on the agenda in the U.N. Security Council or the General Assembly.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) did not include the problem on its agenda or try to influence public opinion either. Despite almost all of those attacked being Muslim, no solidarity, cooperation or joint action was formed.

Even though Turkish politicians voices the topic of Islamophobia and Turkophobia in their rhetoric, this rhetoric has not turned into concrete steps to remedy the situation.

The subject in Europe is also increasingly evolving toward Turkey. Reciprocal harsh statements due to the constitutional referendum in Turkey and elections in Europe are raising tensions.

Following Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu's statement: “I will come there, nobody can stop me,” Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli raised the bar, saying: “If Turkey reaches a boil, Berlin will burn.”

Naturally, all of these statements have an opposite echo in Europe. Hence, an international problem turns into a subject of the domestic agenda, becoming even more difficult to solve.

The problem in Europe needs to be included on the global agenda

Yet, while the problem is one that concerns the entire world and, as stated by the U.N. secretary general, it instigates global terrorism, it is being turned into a fight between Europe and Turkey. This is wrong.

Turkey is obliged to influence public opinion on a more global scale, at the U.N. level, with all the Muslim countries that have been harmed by its side.

The U.N.'s uselessness is probably the first subject to come to one's mind. However, the matter should not be left here, and the fact that this situation is harming economic relations should be included second on the agenda.

The trade volume between Turkey and Germany is at 36.8 billion euros and in favor of Germany. Turkey ranks fifth among the countries with the greatest number of trade activities.

There is no need to state with how big of a difference the EU's trade ties with Muslim countries is in favor of the EU.

Europe has no conscience, it has interests.

Hence, Turkey must produce more global strategies and explain in a more powerful way that the problem in Europe is a problem that concerns the world in general, as the problem cannot solved through rhetoric.


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