To make a 'terrorist' from an inventor, a hero from a 'terrorist' - KEMAL ÖZTÜRK

To make a 'terrorist' from an inventor, a hero from a 'terrorist'

Ahmed Mohamed, the son of a Sudanese family, was interested in mechanical and electronic inventions. They lived in a city called Irving in the Texas state of the U.S. One day, Ahmed said he invented a different mechanical clock and ran to his teachers at school. His teachers examined this clock full of cables and mechanical devices in confusion. They sent Ahmed to class to discuss the matter later. Ahmed was pleased with the interest he drew with the clock he had made to get in the good books of his teachers.

Clock inventor Ahmed becomes a terrorist!

The teachers became convinced that this device invented by Ahmed Mohamed, 14, a black Muslim, was actually a bomb, not a clock, thus they called the police. As Ahmed was waiting to get credit from his teachers, he was instead handcuffed by police in the center of the classroom, arrested and taken to the police station. The clock was also confiscated.

Ahmed, confused and unable to comprehend what happened, was interrogated without his parents being notified and without a lawyer present. He was suspended from school for three days. When a local newspaper found out about the matter, the incident spread like wildfire on social media.

The debate, that began with the police and teachers being so ignorant that they couldn't differentiate a clock from a bomb, led to the topic of racism and Islamophobia. The #IstandWithAhmed hashtag was started on Twitter. Support for the boy and criticisms of the school and police snowballed. The subject started to be debated on major U.S. media outlets. U.S. police, who did nothing when white children posed for the camera with a gun, saw the clock invention by a black Muslim boy as a crime. The U.S. administration, which did not forget the Ferguson riot in which racist police killed blacks in the middle of the street, took over.

Let's stop here.

As Europe buried the refugees in waters

Let's go back a little now, to Denmark.

Seven days before 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi's lifeless body washed ashore on the Aegean coast, the bodies of 71 dead migrants were found in a truck at the Macedonia-Austria border. Sometime before this, 40 migrants died on a boat that sank off Italy. Part of the bodies hit Libyan shores. This wasn't even one-tenth of the migrants drowning in the Mediterranean and borders.

While the Danish police are taking strict measures to prevent Middle Eastern migrants from passing the border, baby Aylan's photo made everybody freeze. The photo took the entire world under its affect. European governments became the center of criticism for their cruel treatment of migrants. As tens of thousands of refugees are getting caught on wire fences and drowning to death in the Mediterranean, European countries are now being held responsible. To top it off, a Macedonian camerawoman had tripped a father who was carrying his child in his arms. Upon all these criticisms, European states decided to take action. But how?

Let's stop here and go back to the U.S.

Obama steps in for Ahmed, NASA takes him to space

There were surprising interventions in the clock inventor Ahmed incident that activated critical fault lines (racism and Islamophobia) in the U.S. President Barack Obama tweeted a message from his official Twitter account giving surprising support: "Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great." Like Obama, Hillary Clinton as well as many other politicians gave support to Ahmed. Facebook, Google, NASA, MIT (the U.S.'s most popular university) also supported Ahmed and invited him to their offices. Suddenly everybody loved Ahmed the inventor.

The world applauded the White Palace and world-popular institutions' protection of Ahmed, the black Muslim child. The applause was continuing as this piece was still being written.

Let us go back to Europe.

Marriage proposals for the conscientious European police officer!

Europe, bombarded by heavy criticisms, announced through tear-jerking, heart breaking leader-level statements that the migrant policy will be changed. As these unconvincing statements were being debated, a photograph that melted everybody's hearts and gave the world a lesson of humanity was published from Denmark. A Danish police officer is sitting in the middle of the road playing with a refugee child. The officer was so humane, so kind that he received marriage proposals from around the world. Nobody asked if he was single, whether he had other preferences or if he wanted to get married. The only thing known was the fact that the officer gave everybody a lesson of humanity and became the most discussed and shared news story worldwide.

What really happened in the US?

The Ahmed Mohamed incident was actually blown up on social media by the black Muslim minority. It was Obama's political communication team that made him write the support message. This team had also encouraged those giant companies and institutions to publish messages of support. The issue could have triggered the fault line, because police in the U.S. had killed 300 black people in the last three months. The day Obama's message was published, police had shot three more black people, yet these deaths had no news value.

In a program in which he participated, Ahmed summarized everything that happened in these words: “The police arrested me because my name is Ahmed Mohamed, I am black and Muslim. This wouldn't have happened if I was white. I hope it doesn't happen to anyone else.”

Ahmed's father and Muslim unity administrators said what Ahmed experienced is actually only one of the many Islamophobic attacks faced by Muslims in America every day. None of the other incidents had become news.

So what really happened in Europe?

Nobody ever found out who that police officer was. How that photograph spread so fast and whether the man really received marriage proposals was never questioned. The public diplomacy in Europe stepped in and bombarded the media with numerous photographs of kind Europeans like this officer. In fact, Denmark closed its border again four days after that photograph and that police officer most likely went back to his job of preventing migrants from passing. Refugees living in barracks, where even stray dogs would not be kept, struggling with hunger and diseases in camps in the middle of Europe never became news like the police officer playing with the child on the road. In fact, nobody felt the need to search or debate the claims that the Italian and Greek police intentionally sank the migrant boats.

Public diplomacy in Turkey

Through public diplomacy operations established on lies, Europe and the U.S. escaped criticisms, prevented the critical social fault lines from breaking and covered its sins. As a result of these operations, everybody believed how conscientious and merciful the Western states and people were!

While Turkey harbors 2 million refugees and fights a rightful battle against the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations, it even couldn't get its own public to understand it through public diplomacy operations, let alone the world. To top it off, it was presented to the world as being guilty.

Ankara, which does not take political communication and public diplomacy matters seriously, in recent years established the Public Diplomacy Coordinatorship to bridge this gap. However, it still hasn't determined its legal infrastructure, budget, staff and what it is actually going to do strategically.

I'm not sure, whether we should be angry with America, which first made a “terrorist” out of an inventor, then turned that “terrorist” into a hero, Europe which covered its immoral refugee policy with stories of the “amazing police officer” or pity ourselves.


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