Erdogan: European Politicians Opposed to Conversion of Hagia Sophia to a Mosque are “Enemies of Islam”
This paints a large target on their backs, and may ensure, since they are clueless and cowardly dhimmis, that they will fall into line with Erdogan’s plans.
“Erdoğan calls some EU politicians ‘enemies of Islam,’” SCF, March 25, 2019:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused EU politicians Kati Piri, Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn of being enemies of Islam while criticizing a recent report adopted by the EU in favor of the official freeze of the membership process with Turkey, according to Turkish media reports on Friday.
During a recent interview on the pro-government Ülke TV, Erdoğan was asked about remarks by Piri, the Turkey rapporteur for the European Parliament (EP), against the conversion of the Hagia Sophia in İstanbul into a mosque.
In response, he said: “There is no need to talk about that woman in the EP, anyway. Let’s not spread her propaganda. … They advise [the EU] to stop accession talks with us. I wish they had done such a thing and stopped the accession talks. Our foreign minister made the necessary explanations at the meeting there to [EU foreign affairs chief] Mogherini, then to that woman [Piri] and to the Austrian [Hahn], to all of them. But they are not honest, they are not sincere. We should not forget this: We are Muslims and they are enemies of Islam.”…
Erdogan Says It’s “Not Unlikely” that Hagia Sophia will be Converted to a Mosque
The Hagia Sophia is a museum now, although it does host some Islamic prayer. It was originally a cathedral, then was turned into a mosque when Constantinople fell to the warriors of jihad on May 29, 1453. In The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS, I detail what happened on that day. The Byzantine scholar Bessarion wrote to the Doge of Venice two months after the conquest, in July 1453, saying that Constantinople had been
…sacked by the most inhuman barbarians and the most savage enemies of the Christian faith, by the fiercest of wild beasts. The public treasure has been consumed, private wealth has been destroyed, the temples have been stripped of gold, silver, jewels, the relics of the saints, and other most precious ornaments. Men have been butchered like cattle, women abducted, virgins ravished, and children snatched from the arms of their parents.
So much for the much-vaunted Islamic “tolerance” in Europe.
“Hagia Sophia might be reverted to a mosque, Erdoğan says,” Daily Sabah, March 24, 2019:
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday voiced the possibility of reverting the Hagia Sophia, which has been used as a museum since 1935 and is considered one of the world’s wonders, to a mosque.
“This is not unlikely. We might even change its name to Ayasofya Mosque,” Erdoğan said during a live interview with Turkish broadcaster TGRT.
“This is not a strange proposal,” he said regarding the calls to convert the historical building to serve the purpose it did for half a millennium.
“As you know, the mosque was converted to a museum in 1935, as a reflection of the (Republican People’s Party) CHP mentality. We may as well take a step and change that,” he concluded, pointing to the harshly secularist policies of the 1930s CHP, which is the main opposition today….
In 2015, a cleric recited the Quran inside the building, a UNESCO World Heritage site, for the first time in 85 years. The following year, Turkey’s religious authority began hosting and broadcasting religious readings during the holy month of Ramadan and the call to prayer was recited inside on the anniversary of the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
Turkey: Putin’s Ally in NATO?
by Burak Bekdil
March 19, 2019
On September 17, 1950, more than 68 years ago, the first Turkish brigade left the port of Mersin on the Mediterranean coast, arriving, 26 days later, at Busan in Korea. Turkey was the first country, after the United States, to answer the United Nations’ call for military aid to South Korea after the North attacked that year. Turkey sent four brigades (a total of 21,212 soldiers) to a country that is 7,785 km away. By the end of the Korean War, Turkey had lost 741 soldiers killed in action. The U.N. Memorial Cemetery in Busan embraces 462 Turkish soldiers.
All that Turkish effort was aimed at membership in NATO, a seat that Turkey eventually won in February 18, 1952. During the Cold War, Turkey remained a staunch U.S. and NATO ally, defending the alliance’s southeastern flank. Nevertheless, events have changed dramatically since the Islamist government of Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan first came to power in November 2002. The “Turkish retreat” did not happen overnight.
In April 2009, military teams from Turkey and its neighbor, President Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, crossed the border and visited outposts during joint military drills. That was the first time a NATO army had exercised with Syria’s military.
In September 2010, Turkish and Chinese air force jets conducted joint exercises in Turkish airspace. That, too, was the first time a NATO air force had military exercises with China’s.
In 2011, a Transatlantic Trends survey revealed that Turkey was the NATO member with the lowest support for the alliance: just 37% (down from 53% in 2004).
In 2012, Turkey joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO, whose members are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) as a dialogue partner.
In 2017, a senior Chinese diplomat said that Beijing was ready to discuss Turkey’s membership in the SCO.
In September 2013, Turkey announced that it had selected a Chinese company (CPMIEC) for the construction of its first long-range air and anti-missile defense system under the then $3.5 billion T-LORAMIDS program. That contract was later scrapped, but Erdoğan then turned to Russian President Vladimir Putin for a replacement: the S-400 long-range air and anti-missile defense system.
Despite increasing U.S., Western and NATO pressure, Erdoğan since that time has refused to give up the Russian air defense architecture and instead has boldly defended “Turkey’s sovereign decision.” Most recently, on March 7, Erdoğan saidTurkey would never turn back from the S-400 missile deal. He even added that Ankara may subsequently look into buying the more advanced S-500 systems now under construction in Russia.
Washington is still warning its part-time NATO ally that the Russian deal would have its “grave consequences.” According to CNN:
“If Turkey takes the S-400s there will be grave consequences,” acting chief Pentagon spokesperson Charles Summers told reporters Friday [March 8], saying it would undermine America’s military relationship with Ankara.
Summers said those consequences would include the US not allowing Turkey to acquire the F-35 jet and the Patriot missile defense system.
Turkey, a member of the U.S.-led, multinational consortium that builds the new generation fighter, the F-35 Lightening II, had committed to buy more than 100 of the aircraft.
Turkey’s choice in favor of Russia (and against NATO) will surely have repercussions on several wavelengths. The U.S. may or may not fully retaliate by expelling Turkey from the Joint Strike Fighter group that builds the F-35. That will be a decision carrying with it economic considerations in addition to military and political ones. Turkey, if expelled, may turn further to Russia for a next-generation fighter solution, which Putin would only be too happy to offer — and create further cracks within the NATO bloc, a move Erdoğan probably believes the U.S. administration (and NATO) cannot afford to risk. Erdoğan’s gambit, however, has a more important message to NATO than just procuring military gear: Turkey’s geo-strategic identity.
The S-400 is an advanced air defense architecture, especially if it is utilized against Western (NATO) aerial assets and firepower. It is an elementary military software fact that Turkey cannot use this system against Russian aggression or Russian-made weapons. With the S-400 deal, Turkey is simply telling its theoretical Western allies that it views “them,” and “not Russia,” as a security threat. Given that Russia is widely considered a security threat to NATO, Turkey’s odd-one-out position inevitably calls for questioning its official NATO identity.
Turkey has NATO’s second biggest army, and its military love affair with Russia may be in its infancy now, but it undermines NATO’s military deterrence against Russia. Russia, however, would doubtless like nothing better than to see the break-up of a military alliance which ensures that an “armed attack against one” NATO member “shall be considered an attack against them all”.
Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based columnist. He regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Defense News and is a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is also a founder of, and associate editor at, the Ankara-based think tank Sigma.
Erdogan: If Australians with Anti-Islam Views Come to Turkey, We Will Send Them Back in Caskets
This kind of talk could get Erdogan the Democratic Party’s 2020 Presidential nomination.
“Erdogan’s Monstrous Death Threats to Australians,” by Tim Wilms, The Unshackled, March 20, 2019:
Turkey’s Islamist dictator President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has responded to the fact the Christchurch mosque shooter was Australian to threaten Australians visiting Turkey with death if they are discovered to have anti-Islam views.
Erdogan was speaking at a campaign rally for upcoming local elections on March 31 in the northern Turkish town of Eregli. Eager to stoke nationalist and Islamist sentiment Erdogan played the video of the shooting as proof of rising hatred and prejudice against Islam.
Erdogan then took the extraordinary action of putting the Australia-Turkey post-World War One and ANZAC peacetime relationship in serious doubt. He reopened the two nations World War One hostilities asking “What business did you have here? We had no issues with you, why did you come all the way over here?” concluding “The only reason: we’re Muslim, and they’re Christian.”
Then alluding to the fact that thousands of Australians travel to Gallipoli in Turkey every year on ANZAC Day on April 25 warning that if they harbor anti-Muslim views threatening “Your grandparents came here … and they returned in caskets,” and “Have no doubt we will send you back like your grandfathers.”…
The Islamic State had an ambassdor to Turkey
It has been noted many times here that Turkey did not oppose the Islamic State in any effective way, and indeed, actively aided it in many ways. It seemed clear that Erdogan was hoping to co-opt the Islamic State, use it against the Kurds and Assad, and incorporate its domains into his own revived caliphate.
It has also been noted many times here that the Islamic State was, before President Trump took office, on its way to being normalized, transitioning from being a terror group to being a respected member of the family of nations — the same track that the PLO is on.
“The ISIS Ambassador to Turkey,” by Anne Speckhard and Ardian Shajkovci, Homeland Security, March 18, 2019:
In the complicated relationship between the government of Turkey and ISIS, it’s unclear how much of the relationship was direct and formal, as opposed to support coming from private individuals and entities in Turkey, or in response to the vast amounts of money ISIS had to spend on a network it deployed inside Turkey to receive and funnel foreign fighters, weapons, and medical supplies into its huge state apparatus. In any case, it’s clear that every state needs diplomats to negotiate political deals with the countries near its borders. ISIS, it seems, was no exception to this rule, as ICSVE researchers learned in a February 2019 five-hour interview with an ISIS emir, Abu Mansour al Maghrebi, who claims he essentially served as the ISIS ambassador to Turkey.
BAGHDAD, Iraq – “My job in Raqqa was dealing with the international cases,” Abu Mansour al Maghrebi recalls of his three years serving ISIS. “My issue [duties] was our [Islamic State’s] relationship with Turkish intelligence. Actually, this started when I was working at the borders,” he explains, harking back to the first job he undertook for ISIS before becoming an ISIS emir and, seemingly, their ambassador to Turkey.
Abu Mansour, an electrical engineer from Morocco, came to Syria in 2013. Like many foreign fighters we interviewed, he stated he came hoping to unshackle Muslims from dictatorial regimes and build an Islamic Caliphate ruled by Islamic ideals. He traveled from Casablanca, Morocco, to Istanbul, Turkey, and through the southern border of Turkey into Syria. His first stop was Idlib, Syria, just as hostilities between al Nusra and ISIS had begun. Abu Mansour ended up on the ISIS side of that rift and was assigned by ISIS the job of an intake official on the Syrian side of the Turkish border. His job was to receive the steady flow of foreign fighters streaming into ISIS via Turkey – many who shared his same dream.
“My job was to direct operatives to receive the foreign fighters in Turkey,” Abu Mansour explains, referring to the network of ISIS-paid people who facilitated foreign fighter travel from Istanbul to the Turkish border towns of Gaziantep, Antakya, Sanliurfa, etc. “Most of them were paid by Dawlah [ISIS],” Abu Mansour explains, but differentiates them from ISIS members, due to their non-ideological motivations. “Most of those working on the Turkish side, their goal is money,” he said. Although when asked about ISIS networks inside Turkey, he also admits, “Many in Turkey believe and give their bayat [oath of allegiance] to Dawlah. There are ISIS guys living in Turkey, individuals and groups, but no armed groups inside Turkey.”
In addressing the foreign fighters, Abu Mansour explains: “[They came from] different places, from North Africa mostly. The numbers of Europeans was not a big number, 4,000 total.”
“Tunis 13,000, 4,000 from Morocco. There were less fighters from Libya because they had a front there [in Libya], fighting less than 1,000. I’m just talking about up to 2015,” he adds. Not surprisingly, his figures confirm data collected on the origins and numbers of foreign fighters who joined ISIS – that the most came from Tunisia. It was interesting how he can rattle off the numbers….
Turkey: The Case of the Missing Priests
by Uzay Bulut
February 27, 2019 at 4:30 am
- “Prior to the kidnapping, the bishops were on their way to Aleppo to secure the release of two other abducted priests…. When Paolo Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest, went to Raqqa to secure their release, he too was kidnapped, and is still missing. I believe he was murdered.” — Erkan Metin, an Istanbul-based Assyrian human-rights lawyer.
- Metin noted that the Assyrian and other Christian peoples indigenous to the region are still awaiting justice for the kidnapped priests and other Christian victims of persecution in Syria.
- “Unlike Turkey, which has failed to investigate the crimes committed against the clergymen, there is an ongoing investigation in the U.S. on their kidnappings and another is being conducted by Russia… and the U.N. is investigating the financing of terrorism in Syria.” — Erkan Metin, an Istanbul-based Assyrian human-rights lawyer.
It has been six years since two archbishops and other members of the Christian clergy went missing in Syria; their whereabouts still are unknown. Yohanna Ibrahim, head of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Aleppo, and Boulos Yazigi, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, also in Aleppo, were abducted from their car in 2013. Their driver was later found killed.
“Prior to the kidnapping, the bishops were on their way to Aleppo to secure the release of two other abducted priests – Father Michel Kayyal, an Armenian Catholic, and Father Maher Mahfouz, a Greek Orthodox – who are also still missing. When Paolo Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest, went to Raqqa to secure their release, he too was kidnapped, and is still missing. I believe he was murdered.”
Metin said that the terrorist who is believed to have killed the two clergymen — Magomed Abdurakhmanov (Abu Banat), is currently in jail in Turkey.
“While fighting in Syria, Abu Banat was the leader of the jihadist Katibat al-Muhajireen brigade. He was also a member of Jaysh al-Muhajireen wa’l-Ansar, affiliated with the Kavkaz Center, the official website of the Caucasus Emirate (Imarat Kavkaz), a pro-jihad, Chechen internet news agency. Jaysh al-Muhajireen wa’l-Ansar was initially aligned with ISIS and then pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. Banat was also a right arm of Abu Omar al-Shishani, who was once one of the most senior commanders of ISIS.”
Metin added that Abu Banat was first detained in 2013 for entering Turkey illegally, but was then released. However, Metin continued:
“After a police officer thought he recognized Abu Banat from an ISIS beheading video on YouTube, Turkish police raided his home in Istanbul, where they found weapons and ammunition. During his criminal investigation, police discovered that it was Abu Banat who had kidnapped the clergymen, and that he was a jihadist leader in Syria. They also learned that it was indeed Abu Banat who appeared in the decapitation video. ‘The people whose heads I chopped off were spies of Assad,’ he said during his interrogation. But the police did not ask him whether the men he beheaded in the video were the abducted archbishops, Ibrahim and Yazigi. It was an odd, careless investigation.”
Meanwhile, Metin said, international condemnation of the beheading videos spurred the Kavkaz Center, with which Abu Banat was affiliated, to distance itself from Abu Banat and clean up its image. This is why, Metin explained, the Kavkaz Center “published an article accusing Abu Banat of having been a Russian spy before his arrest in Turkey; of having kidnapped Ibrahim and Yazigi, and of then having ‘executed’ them by detonating bombs strapped to their bodies.”
Metin explained to Gatestone that the Turkish Justice Ministry has not allowed prosecutors to try Abu Banat and others for crimes committed against the archbishops. Abu Banat was tried only for “membership in al-Qaeda and for possessing weapons and explosives.”
According to Metin:
“A prosecutor’s office in Istanbul requested permission from the Turkish Justice Ministry to investigate Abu Banat for committing a crime against humanity. But the ministry rejected the request, on the grounds that the crime was committed in Syria, a foreign country, and thus it would be difficult to collect evidence there.”
Had such an investigation been launched, Metin said, “it would have exposed the Syria policy of then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, which can be summed up as a ‘strategic swamp,’ which defines everyone from outside of Syria who commits savage acts inside Syria as ‘opponents of the Assad regime.'”
Furthermore, according to Metin:
“Abu Banat testified during his trial that his jihadist organizations were supported by the Turkish intelligence organization (MIT). Although there is no concrete evidence of this, Abu Banat claimed that he received weapons, money and vehicles from the MIT, and that he and the MIT were on the same side against Assad. Abu Banat complained that after he was imprisoned in Turkey in July 2013, he wrote letters to the MIT, with which he claimed to have been in constant touch while he was in Syria, but received no response. Currently, Abu Banat is in the Maltepe prison in Istanbul, but he has filed an appeal with the Turkish Supreme Court. If he wins the appeal, he could be set free.”
According to Metin:
“Unlike Turkey, which has failed to investigate the crimes committed against the clergymen, there is an ongoing investigation in the U.S. on their kidnappings and another is being conducted by Russia on the terrorist leadership of Abu Banat, and the U.N. is investigating the financing of terrorism in Syria.”
Metin noted that the Assyrian and other Christian peoples indigenous to the region are still awaiting justice for the kidnapped priests and other Christian victims of persecution in Syria.
“The abductions have shaken our people at their core,” Metin said. “We want the truth to be revealed, and Abu Banat, the person possibly best able to reveal it, is in a Turkish jail. The government of Turkey should finally do what is required, and get to the bottom of these crimes.”
Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute and is currently based in Washington D.C.