Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Important Article About Possible Election Fraud in Turkey's Upcoming Elections

The author notes that the number of registered voters in Turkey has mysteriously increased in recent times.

Only last year at the Sept. 12 referendum, the number of eligible registered voters was around 49 million and in 2007 it was 42 million and in 2002 it was 41.4 million. In 2010 and 2011, it all of a sudden reached 49 and 52 million, respectively. How? Are Turks multiplying like rabbits? Particularly, how have Turks multiplied by three additional million since September 2010, resulting in the number of eligible voters increasing from 49 million to 52 million? What has happened? Or, has someone placed in his pocket in advance some 10 percent of the vote in case of any emergency? It smells bad, does it not?

Disturbingly, opinion polls in the country also show massive variation in support for political parties.

My problem with the public opinion polls is that so far I could not come up with a public opinion research company in this country who successfully and accurately forecasted three consecutive general or local elections. For every election there is generally a public opinion company, which came very close in its reports to the actual outcome of the poll. And, of course there is nothing surprising in that as there are companies suggesting that the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, will have an electoral support as low as 36 percent in the June 12 election, while there are companies claiming the ruling party will do very well and get support of some 52 percent of the electorate. If the AKP receives between 35 and 54 percent of the vote, then there will be companies declaring victory and celebrating their accurate forecast on the June 12 evening. For God sake, there is almost 20 percentage points between the lowest and the highest forecasts, how scientific can such forecasts be?

In first-world nations, professional polling is normally very reliable. There tends to be only a slight variation between polls done by different companies and between polls and the election result itself.


There is a blog post on the same subject here.

Turkey Shifts Controversial Austrian Ambassador To Israel

The Turkish government has announced that its controversial ambassador to Austria, Kadri Tezcan, is to be transferred to Israel, with its current Israeli ambassador moving the other way.

Kadri Tezcan provoked intense anger in Austria through an interview he gave to an Austrian newspaper last year in which he made bold criticisms of Austria's integration policy and accused Austrians of "not being interested in other cultures except when they go on holiday."

The interview provoked demands for Tezcan to be sent home or recalled. When Austrian President Gul visited Austria recently, the politicians of some of Austria's political parties refused to participate in the ceremonies, declaring that Austria's relations with Turkey could not be on a friendly footing until Tezcan was recalled.

The transfer of the diplomat is being interpreted as a sign of hostility to Israel. Tezcan is seen as a diplomatic "bruiser" and may provoke further controversy in future. The fact that the day of his transfer is the anniversary of the Mavi Marmara incident is also considered a deliberate, contemptuous gesture towards Israel.


Monday, 30 May 2011

Famagusta: A Forgotten City

Famagusta: A Forgotten City
By Robert Ellis

Apart from being the setting of Shakespeare’s ”Othello”, the walled city of Famagusta was the scene of a signal act of treachery after the Ottoman siege in 1571. When the Venetian governor Marcantonio Bragadino finally surrendered after being promised safe conduct by Lala Mustafa, he was flayed alive, his skin was stuffed with straw and paraded round the town.

Now the Lusignan cathedral of St Nicolas, renamed Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, remains with its twin towers lopped off and replaced by a minaret, and the town itself is a shadow of its former self. Before the Turkish invasion in 1974 Famagusta region attracted 53% of the island’s tourism but now its share has been reduced to a mere 7% of the tourism in northern Cyprus.

In 1973 46% of the total net registered tonnage of ships visiting Cyprus ports used Famagusta port, but by 2008 this figure had declined to 4.6%. This is in part due to the import tariffs imposed by the EU after the Anastasiou judgment of 1994, which precludes the acceptance of movement and phytosanitary certificates issued by authorities other than those of the Republic of Cyprus.

The situation in the beach area of Varosha is worse. After its mostly Greek Cypriot inhabitants fled in 1974, more than 100 hotels and 5,000 houses as well as businesses, public buildings, restaurants, museums and schools have been abandoned and watched over by the Turkish army. Despite two Security Council resolutions – 550 (1984) and 789 (1992) – Turkey has refused to transfer the administration of this area to the United Nations, but continues to sit there like a dog in the manger.

There have been several attempts to break this deadlock and both Famagusta and Varosha have been used as bargaining chips in the efforts to secure the reunification of Cyprus and to create some movement in the endless talks. In 2004 Cypriot President Papadopoulos suggested allowing trade with the EU from Famagusta under EU supervision, joint Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot management of the port and Turkish withdrawal from Varosha, but in vain.

In 2006 the Finnish term presidency proposed that Famagusta port be opened for direct trade under EU supervision on condition that Turkey opened some of its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot traffic. However, Papadopoulos stated that Greek Cypriot acceptance of this proposal was dependent on the return of Varosha to the Greek Cypriots, but Turkish Cyprus in turn insisted that Ercan airport in northern Cyprus should be opened to international flights.

An extra element was added when the Turkish daily Vatan reported that Deputy Chief of General Staff Ergin Saygun had reminded Turkish Foreign Minister (now President) Abdullah Gül that it was against agreed Turkish policy to open ports and airports and transfer Varosha to the Greek Cypriots under the control of the UN.

In October 2010 a group of 16 Turkish Cypriot businessmen and professionals issued a declaration on Varosha, calling for its reurn to its legal owners under UN supervision and the opening of Famagusta port under EU supervision, to create “a catalyst effect creating synergy for a comprehensive settlement”. Two months later another group of Turkish Cypriot businessmen and economists also called for the gradual return of Varosha to its owners but under Turkish Cypriot administration.

The European Court of Human Rights, in Lordos and others v. Turkey, has just awarded 32 Greek Cypriots €20 million in compensation for their occupied properties in the closed area of Varosha, which presages an even larger settlement at some later stage unless Varosha is returned to its original inhabitants.

The Turkish government has originally submitted that the Greek Cypriot owners had no legal claim to their properties, as these according to Ottoman law belonged to the Lala Mustafa Pasha, Abdullah Pasha and Bilal Aga Foundations. However, a request by the Evkaf Administration, an Islamic religious trust, to intervene as a third party in the Lordos case was refused by the Court.

The European Parliament has twice – in 2010 and 2011 – called for Turkey to abide by Security Council Resolution 550 and return the sealed-off section of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants, but these resolutions Turkey has of course ignored.

Last year a No Man’s Land Project conceived and organized under the supervision of the Cyprus Architects Association was presented at the London Festival of Architecture. Based on “the hypothetical return” of the abandoned and fenced-off city of Famagusta to its former inhabitants, the team behind the project consider it an ideal chance to rebuild a whole city with proper urban planning and infrastructure.
In fact, they see the potential of the city as “an example of a unified Cyprus”.

It would be encouraging if politicians on both sides of the Green Line - and in particular in Turkey – shared the same vision.

Source: New Europe

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Turks Celebrate 558th Anniversary of the Conquest of Constantinople

Various Christians have seen fit to apologise for the Crusades in our time; wrongly in my view, as the Crusades were simply a response to centuries of Muslim aggression against Christendom. (See Rodney Stark's book "God's Battalions: the Case for the Crusades".) The spirit of apology seems deeply embedded in the western psyche in the present day, however. But it doesn't seem to have reached Turkey. Today Turkey shamelessly celebrates the 558th anniversary of the conquest of Constantinople.

Let us recall exactly what it is the Turks are celebrating through a contemporary eyewitness account:

Nothing will ever equal the horror of this harrowing and terrible spectacle. People frightened by the shouting ran out of their houses and were cut down by the sword before they knew what was happening. And some were massacred in their houses where they tried to hide, and some in churches where they sought refuge.

The enraged Turkish soldiers . . . gave no quarter. When they had massacred and there was no longer any resistance, they were intent on pillage and roamed through the town stealing, disrobing, pillaging, killing, raping, taking captive men, women, children, old men, young men, monks, priests, people of all sorts and conditions . . . There were virgins who awoke from troubled sleep to find those brigands standing over them with bloody hands and faces full of abject fury. This medley of all nations, these frantic brutes stormed into their houses, dragged them, tore them, forced them, dishonored them, raped them at the cross-roads and made them submit to the most terrible outrages. It is even said that at the mere sight of them many girls were so stupefied that they almost gave up the ghost.

Old men of venerable appearance were dragged by their white hair and piteously beaten. Priests were led into captivity in batches, as well as reverend virgins, hermits and recluses who were dedicated to God alone and lived only for Him to whom they sacrificed themselves, who were dragged from their cells and others from the churches in which they had sought refuge, in spite of their weeping and sobs and their emaciated cheeks, to be made objects of scorn before being struck down. Tender children were brutally snatched from their mothers' breasts and girls were pitilessly given up to strange and horrible unions, and a thousand other terrible things happened. . .

Temples were desecrated, ransacked and pillaged . . . sacred objects were scornfully flung aside, the holy icons and the holy vessels were desecrated. Ornaments were burned, broken in pieces or simply thrown into the streets. Saints' shrines were brutally violated in order to get out the remains which were then thrown to the wind. Chalices and cups for the celebration of the Mass were set aside for their orgies or broken or melted down or sold. Priests' garments embroidered with gold and set with pearls and gems were sold to the highest bidder and thrown into the fire to extract the gold. Immense numbers of sacred and profane books were flung on the fire or tom up and trampled under foot. The majority, however, were sold at derisory prices, for a few pence. Saints' altars, tom from their foundations, were overturned. All the most holy hiding places were violated and broken in order to get out the holy treasures which they contained.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Turkish Pressure Forces German University to Cancel Speech on Armenian Genocide

Stuttgart university was scheduled to host a speech and discussion event today on the theme of "Persecution, Expulsion and Annihilation of Christians in the Ottoman Empire 1912-1922". At the last minute, however, the university cancelled the event booking. When asked why, the rector of the university, Prof.-Dr. Ing. Wolfram Ressel, said that they had come under pressure from "Turks in Berlin" and that the university wished to "remain neutral". Remain neutral on the Armenian genocide?

The event had been organised by a coalition of non-profit organisations, including the Association of Greeks from Pontos in Europe, the Assyrian Democratic Organisation - Central Europe Section and the Working Group on the Recognition of Genocide for Understanding Between Peoples. They issued a statement on what had occurred.

The associations concerned consider it regrettable in the extreme that almost one hundreds years after the genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians/Arameans and Greeks in the then Ottoman empire that a German university does not have the courage to rent a room for a commemoration and information event intended to come to terms with this crime and thus serve the purpose of preventing future genocides.

"For crimes, there can in principle be no possibility of retreating to supposedly neutral positions. The circumstances that Turkey, to this day, officially disputes the genocide of more than three million Ottoman citizens of the Christian faith and strikes to prevent public consideration of it even abroad can also not be allowed to govern the actions of a German university."


Via: PI

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Murderer of Hrant Dink Becomes a Brand

Family of Ogun Samast, carrying out the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, registered and acquired the copyright to use the murderer’s name as a brand.

The Ogun Samast brand will be used in educational programs, conferences, sport, cinema, and media, informs Firat agency.

Thus, Turkey continues the policy of portraying murderer’s as heroes.


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Grey Wolves Turkish Nationalist Organisation Has Growing Influence in Germany

This is my own translation of a German newspaper article that was published a few months ago.

How the Far Right Grey Wolves Attract Young Turks


The “Grey Wolves” are gaining ever more influence over Turkish youths in North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), warn experts. Above all they attract frustrated young men. They disseminate their racist propaganda over the internet – and jeopardise integration.

The Turkish nationalistic organisation, the Grey Wolves, has new premises in Bochum.

The Dahlhausen district of Bochum is well-known as a social flashpoint. Many immigrants live here. Exactly the right terrain for the “Grey Wolves”. A few weeks ago the Turkish right-wing extremists moved their headquarters into a former pub. They visit families, make contacts in mosques and associations. In their recruitment, above all they target young men who are disenchanted with German society. The citizens of Bochum are worried. Some have turned to the city looking for help, but nothing can be done. Although the unwelcome neighbours are monitored by the Agency for the Protection of the Constitution, they have not been banned.

Employees of the Agency for the Protection of the Constitution count around 70 associations of the nationalist movement with more than 2000 members in NRW. There are Grey Wolf association centres in almost every large town. “Their influence on Turkish youth has significantly increased,” says the Bochum educationalist Kemal Bozay, who is familiar with the scene. Particularly in the third generation, the sense of having no prospects is something that is increasingly widespread. “The young people feel excluded from mainstream German society. They are looking for an identity, for a place where they will be acknowledged,” explains Bozay. “The organisation uses that.”

Danger for Integration

The movement’s greeting symbolises a wolf’s head.

The Grey Wolves, also called the Ülkücü movement, lure young people with a generous offering of leisure activities and a sense of community. And then, completely by the way, they will be indoctrinated in courses into the organisation’s racist Turkish cult. The whole thing works according to the principle: we are in here and they are out there. With fatal consequences: “The strengthening of an overblown sense of Turkish national consciousness gives grounds for concern, as this hampers integration of the young people into the living and social circumstances of Germany,” warn NRW’s agents for the protection of the constitution in their most recent report.

The SPD’s regional parliament member, Serdar Yüksel, also speaks of a danger for integration. “This is a huge problem that’s coming towards us. If we don’t counter it, we’ll drive young people in droves into the arms of the Turkish far-right.” The academic Bozay and the politician Yüksel are in agreement: the attack on immigrants by Thilo Sarrazin and the subsequent debate had given the Grey Wolves an additional boost.

Thought comparable to German Neo-Nazis

Even from the families there is mostly very little resistance. “The Turkish associations take children off the streets”, says Cem Sentürk from the Centre for Turkish Studies in Essen. Therefore the parents are completely happy when the young people spend their time in the association centre rather than somewhere else. Particularly as the Turkish right-wingers mostly seem polite and moderate. Major political events have become more rare, says Sentürk. Instead, they have taken up social engagement. That makes it more difficult for the authorities to keep tabs on them. The Grey Wolves have even officially renounced violence.

But the Mr Clean facade is a sham. Behind it hides an ideology that can be loosely compared with German neo-nazi thought: exaggerated nationalism, a leadership cult and the conviction that their own race is superior. There are similarities even in their perceived enemies: the German and Turkish far-right is united in its hatred of Jews and homosexuals. Even the dream of a great empire (reich) exists among the Grey Wolves: it is to be called “Turan” and stretch from Central Asia to the Balkans.

Hate-filled propaganda on the internet

On the internet the Turkish far-right shows its true face. In Videos, chats and blogs Kurds, Jews and other “enemies” are the targets of hate-filled and sometimes highly aggressive propaganda, as a study by the NRW Agency for the Protection of the Constitution shows. In particular, portals like Youtube and Facebook are used in a targeted way. On Facebook there are various group pages, which, however, can only be accessed on a member’s recommendation.

Symbols of the movement are the wolf figure and three white half-moons. The “Grey Wolf” is a figure from the pre-islamic origin myths of the Turkish tribe.

The young people also place many of their own videos on the net. In these they present themselves “as ‘hard men’, who will defend Turkey, if necessary with their lives,” write the agents for the Protection of the Constitution. “The voice of the underground, I’m also called the Grey Wolf. (...) We are as strong as 1000 volts. You want to fight me? You have made a mistake! And for the six in maths I gave my teacher a slap. (...) If you insult my country I will give you a deathblow,” raps a rather fierce voice, while in the background images of Turkish soldiers, flags and other national symbols pass by.

“Problem underestimated”

The verdict of the NRW Agency for Protection of the Constitution: “From this it is clear that, not least through the internet, an Ülkücü youth culture has been created. This youth scene appears to be radicalising further.” Many young people also first come into contact with the ideology of the Grey Wolves via the internet, says Bozay. They then carry this body of thought into clubs and schools. In recent years, teachers had complained recurrently of serious confrontations with ideologically-indoctrinated young people.

But even the adult world is not immune from the Grey Wolves. Warnings are constantly being issued about radical Turks slipping into established German parties. In NRW the German-Turkish forum of the CDU [the mainstream right-wing party in Germany] and, in places, also the SPD [mainstream left-wing party in Germany] have been infiltrated by members of the Grey Wolves, says Yüksel. “They have also succeeded, to a significant extent, in infiltrating the integration councils.”

Due to lack of knowledge, in many parts of German society, the problem is entirely underestimated, says Yüksel. Even in youth work and schools there are no plans to effectively counter the influence of the Grey Wolves, confirms Bozay. “If thousands of Turkish right-wing extremists meet up in the Essen Grugahalle, we’re not worried about it,” says Yüksel. “But if 100 NPD [German far-right party] members stage a march, we immediately organise a counter-demo.”


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

German Integration Official Linked to Turkish Grey Wolves

Zülfiye Kaykın, a Turkish-born woman who serves as as State Secretary for Integration in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, has been accused of having links with the extremist Turkish nationalist organisation, the Grey Wolves.

In April 2010 a requiem service for Alparslan Türkes was held at the Fatih mosque in Duisburg. At that time, Zülfiye Kaykın was the director of the DITIB social centre which was linked with the mosque. Witnesses claim to have seen Kaykın participate in the ceremony.

Members of the mainstream Turkish community in the state, as well as the Alevi community, have called for the minister's resignation. Even a spokesman of the Turkish government is said to have criticised her. This may be related to intra-Turkish political rivalry. The MHP, the Turkish nationalist party, is the political arm of the Grey Wolves.

The Grey Wolves are a fanatical Turkish nationalist organisation which once formed part of NATO's Gladio network. This consisted of "stay-behind" organisations which were supposed to mount guerilla-style resistance campaigns in the event that their countries were overrun by East bloc armies. Its members have been involved in numerous atrocities and incidents of violence over the years - for example, Mehmet Ali Ağca, the man who shot Pope John Paul II was a member of the Grey Wolves - and are said to have strong links to the Turkish "deep state", Islamic militias in places like Chechnya, Kosovo and Bosnia and Turkish organised crime.

With a growing number of Turkish colonists in Europe, the Grey Wolves are now said to have a significant presence there, particularly in Germany.


Monday, 23 May 2011

Turkey's Christians Under Siege

The brutal murder of the head of Turkey's Catholic Church, Bishop Luigi Padovese, on June 3, 2010, has rattled the country's small, diverse, and hard-pressed Christian community.[1] The 62-year-old bishop, who spearheaded the Vatican's efforts to improve Muslim-Christian relations in Turkey, was stabbed repeatedly at his Iskenderun home by his driver and bodyguard Murat Altun, who concluded the slaughter by decapitating Padovese and shouting, "I killed the Great Satan. Allahu Akhbar!" He then told the police that he had acted in obedience to a "command from God."[2]

The brutal murder on June 3, 2010, of the head of Turkey's Catholic church, Bishop Luigi Padovese, seen here in 2006 leading the funeral procession of another slain priest, Andrea Santoro, was met by denials and obfuscation—not only by the Turkish authorities but also by Western governments and even the Vatican.

Though bearing all the hallmarks of a jihadist execution, the murder was met by denials and obfuscation—not only by the Turkish authorities but also by Western governments and the Vatican. This is not wholly surprising. In the post-9/11 era, it has become commonplace to deny connections between Islam and acts of violence despite much evidence to the contrary.[3] But while this denial has undoubtedly sought to win the hearts and minds of Muslims, as opposed to Christians, Jews, or any other religious group, it has served to encourage Islamist terrorism and to exacerbate the persecution of non-Muslim minorities even in the most secularized Muslim states. For all President Barack Obama's high praise for its "strong, vibrant, secular democracy,"[4] and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "Alliance of Civilizations" rhetoric, Turkey is very much entrenched in the clash of civilizations paradigm.

Unless Ankara is prepared to combat the widespread "Christophobia" that fuels violence and other forms of repression, the country's Christians are doomed to remain an oppressed and discriminated against minority, and Turkey's aspirations of democratic transformation and full integration with Europe will remain stillborn.

The Victim and His Mission

Consecrated bishop in November 2004, half a year following Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's elevation to the papacy, Padovese belonged to the body of intellectually sharp, proactive clerics who share Benedict XVI's ecumenical understanding of the church and its global mission of evangelization, especially in the Islamic Middle East where a century of intensive de-Christianization now threatens the faith's regional existence.

Padovese's mission in Turkey was to help save the country's Christian community from extinction and to create conditions for its religious and cultural renaissance. Rejecting the church's historic dhimmi status as a protected religious minority under Islam—which reduced it to little more than a submissive worshipping agency with no other legitimate activity—he viewed Turkey's European Union candidacy as a golden opportunity for winning significant concessions from Ankara and pinned high hopes on the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in Rome in October 2010.[5] However, the synod ended on a sour note. While confirming the Second Vatican Council's positive shift in attitude toward Judaism and unequivocal rejection of anti-Semitism, the Middle Eastern bishops sought to enhance the security of their flocks by playing an anti-Israel card and criticizing Israel—the one country of the region with a growing Christian population—with a directness that was not employed in relation to any Islamic state, no matter how repressive.

Had it not been for his murder, the bishop would have traveled to meet the pope in Cyprus on the very next day for the launch of the synod's Instrumentum laboris, the Vatican's strategic plan for reviving Christianity in its Middle Eastern cradle, to which Padovese was a substantial contributor.

Though written in low-key Vatican jargon, the Instrumentum laboris is full of radical implications for Turkey and the broader Middle East.[6] In contrast to the common post-9/11 predilection to downplay Islamism's less savory aspects, the document does not gloss over the disadvantaged position of Christians in the Islamic world and identifies the issue of human rights, including religious freedom, as central to the well-being of the whole of society:
Oftentimes, relations between Christians and Muslims are difficult, principally because Muslims make no distinction between religion and politics, thereby relegating Christians to the precarious position of being considered non-citizens, despite the fact that they were citizens of their countries long before the rise of Islam. The key to harmonious living between Christians and Muslims is to recognize religious freedom and human rights.[7]

This harmonious living was to be achieved through a policy of dialogue—defined by Benedict XVI at the beginning of his papacy as "a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends"[8]—that would identify the common ground between the two religions: service to society, respect for common moral values, the avoidance of syncretism, joint opposition to the atheism, materialism, and relativism emanating from the Western world, and a collective rejection of religious-based violence, that is—killing in the name of God.

The Instrumentum laboris also encouraged a search—together with Muslim reformers—for a new system of church-state relations, which it referred to as "positive laicity." But the Vatican does not uphold Turkey's secularism—which the George W. Bush and Obama administrations have praised as a model for the Islamic world—as the answer. "In Turkey," the Instrumentum laboris notes—undoubtedly on account of the influence of Bishop Padovese—"the idea of 'laicity' is currently posing more problems for full religious freedom in the country." The working document did not elaborate but simply stated that the aim of this "positive," as opposed to "Turkish laicity," would be to help eliminate the theocratic character of government and allow for greater equality among citizens of different religions, thereby fostering the promotion of a sound democracy, positively secular in nature, which also fully acknowledges the role of religion in public life while completely respecting the distinction between the religious and civic orders.[9]

These were the principles that guided Padovese's Turkish mission. He worked in the clear knowledge that "faithfully witnessing to Christ"—as the synod's preparatory document acknowledges—"can lead to persecution."[10] And so it did.

Conspiracy of Silence

Within hours of Padovese's death, the provincial governor preempted the results of police investigations with the announcement that the murder was not politically motivated but rather committed by a lone lunatic.[11] Moreover, in an attempt to eliminate any Islamic motive, NTV Turkey announced that the murderer was not actually a Muslim but a convert to Catholicism.[12] Then the police leaked word—allegedly from the assassin—that he had been "forced to suffer abuse" in a homosexual relationship with the bishop and that the killing had been an act of "legitimate defense."[13]

It is true that Turkey's minister for culture and tourism, Ertugrul Günay, issued a short message of condolences on behalf of the government[14] and that the foreign ministry expressed regret to the international media. But neither President Abdullah Gül nor Prime Minister Erdogan expressed their own condolences or publicly addressed the murder of the head of their country's Catholic Church, and even the foreign ministry's statement took care to highlight the murderer's alleged "psychological problems."[15]

Erdogan's silence in response to this national tragedy was particularly striking. Together with Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodrigues Zapatero, the Turkish prime minister and leader of the ruling Islamist Peace and Justice Party (AKP) has been a principal architect and cosponsor of the U.N.'s flagship program to promote a global "Alliance of Civilizations." Diversity, cross-cultural dialogue, and opposition to isolation of "the other" were among the principles articulated by Erdogan in his attempts to present Turkey as "the best panacea against 'clash of civilizations' theories."[16] The beheading of a senior Christian cleric by a Muslim zealot could not but send an unmistakable message that this very clash was in full swing on Erdogan's home turf.

Moreover, at the time of the murder, Erdogan was both sending thinly veiled threats of Turkey's growing impatience with the slow progress of its EU application and seeking to enhance his stature throughout the Islamic world with menacing anti-Israel diplomacy in response to its interception of the Turkey-originated Gaza flotilla.[17] He thus had nothing to gain and much to lose by generating headlines about Padovese's execution.

So did Washington and its European allies. If Western diplomats spoke at all about the bishop's murder, it was in the same hushed tones that are used when referring to Turkey's Armenian genocide of World War I, its subsequent use of terror against remnant Christian communities and Kurdish villages, its 1974 invasion of Cyprus and subsequent ethnic cleansing of the occupied Christian population, and its blockade of neighboring Armenia.

Well aware of the absence of backing from Western powers, the Vatican acted swiftly to avoid confrontation with Turkey. Notwithstanding an early observation by Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi that the murder highlighted the "difficult conditions" of the church in the region,[18] the official explanation was swiftly harmonized with that of Ankara. In a statement broadcast on Vatican Radio on the same day, Lombardi negated his previous comment by stating that "political motivations for the attack or other motivations linked to socio-political tensions are to be excluded." He also stressed the killer's "mental imbalance"[19] as if solo psychopaths might be a primary source of the church's difficult conditions in the Islamic world.

The day after the murder, while en route to one of Europe's hot spots of Muslim-Christian communal tension—the divided island of Cyprus—Pope Benedict XVI himself sought to quash speculation about its motivation. He admitted that he still had "very little information" about the killing, yet endorsed—much to the bewilderment of Christians in Turkey—the Turkish government's reflexive denial of a religious-political motive when he declared, "We must not attribute the fact [of Bishop Padovese's murder] to Turkey … What is certain is that it was not a religious or political assassination."[20]

The Lessons of Regensburg

Why did the pope so swiftly deny political or religious motives for Padovese's murder when so much about the crime was still shrouded in mystery? Benedict XVI provided a motive when he explained, "We do not want this tragic situation to become mixed up with dialogue with Islam or with all the problems of our journey [to Cyprus]."[21] A quarrel with Ankara at this particular juncture could certainly have had damaging repercussions for the church, but behind the pontiff's timidity, lay his keen awareness of how easy it was to trigger the destructive rage of the Islamic powers and the temporal weakness of his church.

Indeed, a few months before his ascendancy in May 2005, the pope-to-be caused consternation in Turkey by declaring his opposition to its application for EU membership because "historically and culturally, Turkey has little in common with Europe."[22] Upon Ratzinger's election to the papacy, Erdogan opined that his "rhetoric may change from now on … because this post, this responsibility, requires it."[23]

Benedict XVI did lower his tone but not before the mass demonstrations, violence, and threats that followed his now famous Regensburg University lecture of September 2006—just two months before he was scheduled to travel to Istanbul for his first papal foray into the world of Islam. At Regensburg, the pope broached one of the key issues obstructing harmonious relations between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds: the sensitive question of violent jihad as a legitimate means of advancing the Islamic faith.[24]

In his address, the pope overstepped a red line drawn by Muslim political elites throughout the world. Erdogan joined angry Muslim clerics and statesmen, demanding that the pope apologize for his "wrong, ugly, and unfortunate statements" and calling into question whether the planned papal visit to Istanbul would take place.[25] He was followed by Director for Religious Affairs Ali Bardakoglu—the overseer of the Turkish state's massive financial support for Islamic institutions, including those in Europe, especially Germany[26]—who condemned the pope's message as reflecting "anger, hostility, and hatred" in addition to a "Crusader and holy-war mentality."[27] The deputy chairman of Erdogan's AKP Party, Salih Kapusuz, announced that the Regensburg speech would place Benedict XVI in the "same category as Hitler and Mussolini."[28]

Left isolated and exposed by Washington and Europe, the pope quickly succumbed to pressure. To be sure, he did not retract a single word uttered at Regensburg, and his apology was more of a regretful explanation than an admission of error, but his humble and appeasing demeanor was conciliatory enough to salvage his church's dialogue with Islam and keep the door open to Istanbul. Since then, he has taken extraordinary pains to temper his language and make flattering gestures to avoid frenzied Muslim responses.

Consider Benedict XVI's November 2006 visit to Turkey—his first as pope to a Muslim-majority country. While reiterating the Vatican's customary plea for religious liberty, his remarks were overshadowed by his gestures of goodwill aimed at underscoring his esteem for Islam and Turkey's Islamist government, notably his prayer facing Mecca in Istanbul's Blue Mosque and his praise for Erdogan's role in launching the Alliance of Civilizations.[29]

The biggest plum for Erdogan was the indication that the pope would now welcome Turkey's membership in the EU.[30] Although the Vatican made no mention of it, the Turkish press announced that Benedict XVI had endorsed Erdogan's plan to establish a bureau of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs in Brussels to "counter efforts to inflame Islamophobia."[31]
The Regensburg speech led to the harmonization of the Vatican's diplomatic language with that of Turkey and the Alliance of Civilizations, on which the Padovese murder had no apparent effect. Anti-Christian violence remains a powerful factor in influencing the language of the church as it struggles to balance its fundamental, unwavering advocacy of religious freedom and opposition to killing in the name of God with the pursuit of dialogue with Turkey and other Muslim majority states.

The Plot Thickens

Not all Christians in Turkey accepted the denials and obfuscation of Ankara and the Vatican about the circumstances surrounding the murder. Foremost among them was the archbishop of Smyrna, Ruggero Franceschini—Padovese's successor as head of the country's Catholic Church—who rejected the official explanation of his colleague's murder and maintained that the pope had received "bad counsel" prior to his denial of the murder's political or religious motives.[32]

The archbishop had lived in Iskenderun, where the murder took place, and had known the assassin and his family personally. In the hope of ascertaining the true facts, he immediately visited the scene of the crime, subsequently telling the press that he could not accept the "usual hastily concocted, pious lie" about the murderer's insanity. He also dismissed the claim that the assassin was a Catholic convert, confirming that he was a non-practicing Muslim.[33]

The archbishop did not doubt the murder's religious and political motivation. "I believe that with this murder, which has an explicitly religious element, we are faced with something that goes beyond government," he said. "It points towards nostalgic, perhaps anarchist groups who want to destabilize the government. The very modalities of the murder aim to manipulate public opinion."[34]

What the archbishop suspected was a crime stage-managed by Turkey's "deep state"—an opaque underworld where powerful elements within the state, especially the military and security services, act in conjunction with violent extremist groups, such as the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves and the Islamist Hezbollah, as well as the apolitical criminal underworld, to undertake special, illegal operations in the political interest of the country's ruling elite.[35]

Until recently, the deep state was imbued with the secularist ideology of the republic's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. But since coming to power in 2003, Erdogan's AKP has vigorously endeavored to lay hands on all levers of power including the deep state with a view to promoting its Islamist, "neo-Ottoman" vision for the country.[36] This has in turn produced a schizophrenic deep state with older elements loyal to the Kemalist opposition and newer elements loyal to the AKP's Islamist agenda.

Since 2007, the Turkish media has feasted on a steady stream of revelations about an extensive deep state network called "Ergenekon." Government prosecutors have secured the arrest and indictment of scores of retired and still-serving military and security officials for allegedly plotting to destabilize the AKP-dominated government. Show trials are already underway.

Deep state documents released by the prosecution, if taken at face value, point to Ergenekon as a source of anti-church activity, including the torture and Islamic-style ritual murder of three evangelical Christian book publishers in the town of Malatya in April 2006.[37]
The Ergenekon conspiracy has been similarly linked with the murder of the 61-year-old Catholic priest, Fr. Andrea Santoro—shot and killed in his Trabzon church in February 2006.

Witnesses report that the convicted killer, a 16-year-old, shouted "Allahu Akbar" immediately before firing his pistol.[38] Bishop Padovese said at the time that the assassination "did not seem incidental" as it occurred while passions were aroused by the Danish cartoon affair.[39] The former papal nuncio to Turkey, Msgr. Antonio Lucibello, had similarly argued that there was a mastermind behind Santoro's murder.[40]

Prosecutors also ascribed the January 2007 murder of the Armenian Christian journalist, Hrant Dink, by a 17-year-old, to the Ergenekon.[41]A vigorous and well-known campaigner against Turkey's denial of the Armenian genocide, Dink had been convicted of having violated article 302 of the penal code banning "insults to Turkishness." The hanged body of Dink's Turkish lawyer, Hakan Karadag, was found in suspicious circumstances the day after the Padovese murder.[42]

It is far from certain whether the alleged anti-AKP Ergenekon conspiracy is a reality, or whether it is largely an AKP fabrication, designed to cover the efforts of Erdogan's Islamists to turn the deep state into an instrument for promoting their own agenda.[43] But whoever may be pulling the strings, Kemalists or Islamists, the deep state is no friend of Turkey's Christians.

A Turkish Anti-Christian Agenda

Persecution, however, is by no means limited to the deep state. Like their counterparts in most of the Islamic Middle East, Turkey's Christians are effective hostages to the arbitrary actions of powerful elites, made up of Islamic state and non-state actors who collectively monopolize violence. The oldest Christians retain living memory of the state-sponsored mass deportations and massacres that culminated in the World War I Armenian genocide. During the twentieth century, Turkey's Christian population has dropped to the verge of extinction.[44]

The last anti-Christian mass violence was the 1955 deep state-sparked, anti-Greek pogrom in Istanbul, which also took a heavy toll on the city's Jewish and Armenian populations.[45]
Such memories are reinforced in the younger generation of Christians by continuing acts of smaller scale and more discriminative violence. In February 2006, for example, a Slovenian priest was attacked by a gang of teenagers in the parish compound in Izmir (Smyrna), and five months later a 74-year-old clergyman was stabbed by young Turks on a street in Trabzon, following which Padovese told the media, "The climate has changed … it is the Catholic priests that are being attacked."[46] In December 2007, another priest was knifed by a teenager as he left his church following Sunday mass.[47]

A leader of the Turkish Protestant community, Rev. Behnan Konutgan, recently recorded cases of violence against church property and the physical harassment of church members while a noted Turkish sociologist of religion, Ali Carkoglu, has argued that no non-Muslim religious gathering in Turkey is completely risk free.[48]

What little protective law there is, whether national or international, does not have the strength to provide adequate defense. Plain-speaking about persecution invites hostile reactions, sometimes deadly. The church's language of dialogue is powerfully influenced by this reality. But there are some voices in Turkey that do not always cower to the violence-backed taboos of official Christian-Muslim dialogue or of the Alliance of Civilizations.

At the end of 2009, Bartholomew I, the normally subservient Ecumenical Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes and shocked Turkey's political establishment. Speaking to Bob Simon, the patriarch reported no significant improvement in conditions for the church. Instead, he argued that Turkey's Christians were second class citizens and that he personally felt "crucified" by a state that wanted to see his church die out. Asked whether Erdogan had responded to the petitions submitted to him in the course of many meetings, Bartholomew answered, "Never."[49]

Turkey's rulers lashed out angrily. "We consider the crucifixion metaphor an extremely unfortunate metaphor," argued Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. "In our history, there have never been crucifixions, and there never will be. I couldn't really reconcile this metaphor with his mature personality."[50] President Gül endorsed the foreign minister's assessment while the head of the ruling AKP's international relations section, Kürsat Tüzmen, menacingly retorted, "If there is someone who is being crucified, it is the politician, security officials, and others. If he [the patriarch] is a religious and spiritual leader, he should be much more cautious when making a statement. Someone who really loves his country has to be more responsible."[51]

Bartholomew seems to have touched a raw nerve. For all its Alliance of Civilizations rhetoric, Erdogan's Islamist government has maintained a tight stranglehold on the country's Christian institutions and blocked reforms that could lead to the growth of Christianity. True, the government has made some minor concessions to Christian institutions, including legislation that creates new but very limited possibilities for Christian foundations to recover some confiscated property, [52] but this was little more than a ploy to please the European Union and Washington and pales into insignificance by such hostile measures as the refusal to reopen the Halki Theological Seminary—the only institution in Turkey where Orthodox clergy could be trained—before Greece and Bulgaria improved the conditions of their Muslim minorities.[53] In other words, Ankara does not recognize the right of the Orthodox Church, or any other church for that matter, to run a theological seminary as a religious liberty but merely as an instrument of deal-making with Western powers for the purposes of enhancing the position of Islam.

Indeed, while Turkey's churches have long enjoyed freedom of worship, they have remained without legal status to this very day. Most of their work takes place in the legal framework of foundations that operate under the strict supervision of the General Directorate for Foundations[54] and other state institutions—including a secret national security department whose mandate is to control non-Muslim minorities.[55] They have, moreover, been entangled in labyrinthine negotiations and lengthy and expensive court cases for the return of confiscated property as well as permission to expand their engagement with society through the provision of education and other charitable activity. Churches have experienced grave setbacks in addition to the above mentioned murders, notably: The state conducted a four-year prosecution of two Turkish, evangelical Protestant converts from Islam on charges of "insulting Turkishness." Although these charges were dropped for lack of evidence in October 2010, the converts were forced to pay fines of $3,170 each or go to prison for seven months for "collecting information on citizens."[56]

Ankara is taking legal action to confiscate lands that historically belonged to the Syriac Orthodox Monastery of Mor Gabriel (founded in 379 CE), whose bishop has encouraged persecuted Christian refugees to return to the area and rebuild their villages.[57]

Less than a year before his death, Padovese was especially disappointed by the rejection of his appeal for the status of the Church of St. Paul in Tarsus to be changed from a museum to a functioning place of regular worship. Not only had the pope made a personal appeal in this respect, but the archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Meisner, had asked Erdogan for the return of the church "as a gesture of European cooperation." The Turkish media reported that Ankara turned down these requests from the pope, Cardinal Meisner, and Bishop Padovese, notwithstanding the Catholic leaders' pledge to support the building of a mosque in Germany on condition that the Turkish government hand over the holy site to the church, together with permission for the construction of a center for pilgrims.[58]

The Islamist Erdogan maintains continuity with his ultranationalist predecessors by refusing to respect the historic, ecumenical character of the Patriarchate of Constantinople—i.e., its titular ascendancy over the other patriarchates of the 300 million-strong Orthodox communion worldwide—and by requiring that the patriarch be a Turkish citizen by birth. Last October, the Turkish authorities allowed the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party to conduct Islamic prayers at the ancient Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Virgin at Ani.[59]

Raging Christophobia

Padovese believed that there would be no end to the war against the church in Turkey until the public as a whole rejected the widely-accepted negative stereotypes of Christians as dangerous, subversive aliens within society, and he especially blamed the popular Turkish media for perpetuating a climate of hate. He highlighted as an example two cases involving the late Fr. Santoro. In the first, he was run out of a village near Trabzon by a group of children while local adults incited the youth with applause. The local newspaper reported the incident with the headline "Priest Sighted on the Coast Road," as if his presence there justified the mob action against him.[60] The second case followed Santoro's murder when the daily Vatan alleged that the assassinated priest had been guilty of distributing money to young people to entice them to visit his church.[61]

Turkey's Christians were especially alarmed by the mass popular hysteria whipped up by the 2006 blockbuster Valley of the Wolves, an action-packed adventure film set in post-Saddam Iraq. Reviewing the movie in Spiegel, Cem Özdemir—a member of the European Parliament of Turkish descent—decried its pandering to "racist sentiments" and its making "Christians and Jews appear as repugnant, conspiratorial holy warriors hoping to use blood-drenched swords to expand or reclaim the empire of their God."[62]

Far from distancing themselves from the movie, ultra-nationalists and those at high levels in the Islamist camp praised it. "The film is absolutely magnificent … It is completely true to life," exclaimed the parliament speaker (and later deputy prime minister) Bülent Arınç. Unconcerned about the damaging implications of the film's negative images of Christians and Jews, Turkey's President Gül refused to condemn it, saying it was no worse than many Hollywood films.[63] Erdogan's pious wife is reportedly a fan of the racist film.[64]

The Christophobia of the boulevard press and "Istanbulywood" can also be found in state documents. A national intelligence report, exposed by the Cumhuriyet newspaper in June 2005, revealed similar dangerous sentiments that are at odds with the principles espoused by Erdogan at showcase Alliance of Civilizations events.

Titled "Reactionary Elements and Risks," the report put Islamist terrorist groups on a par with Christian missionaries, who, it claimed, cover Turkey "like a spider's web" and promote divisions in sensitive areas such as the Black Sea and eastern Anatolia. According to the report, the Christian evangelizers included Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants, as well as other Christian and non-Christian groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Baha'is, with the latter concentrating on government officials, liberal businessmen, and performing and other artists.[65]

Echoing the tenor of the intelligence report, Turkish state minister Mehmet Aydın, who oversees the state's Directorate for Religious Affairs and who has served as an advisor to the National Security Council on religious issues, argued that the goal of Christian missionaries was to break up the historical, religious, national, and cultural unity of the people of Turkey," adding that much evangelizing was "done in secret."[66] This claim was echoed by Erdogan's interior minister Abdülkadir Asku, who told the Turkish parliament that Christian missionaries exploited religious and ethnic differences and natural disasters to win the hearts of poor people. Having highlighted the secret and subversive nature of this allegedly devious effort, he noted an embarrassingly small success rate: 338 converts to Christianity (and six converts to Judaism) out of 70 million Turks during the previous seven years.[67]

Deep Prejudice

When Erdogan, as an Islamist opposition politician, announced in 1997 that "the minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks and the faithful our army"—lines from a poem of by Ziya Gökalp, a nineteenth-century architect of Turkish nationalism based on a synthesis of Islam and Turkish ethnicity—he was not only making a statement about the role of Islam in promoting the interests of the Turkish state but also indicating the unity of religion and nationalism in Turkish perception. As historian Bernard Lewis explained, "One may speak of Christian Arabs—but a Christian Turk is an absurdity and a contradiction in terms. Even today, after thirty-five years of the secular republic, a non-Muslim in Turkey may be called a Turkish citizen, but never a Turk."[68]

Much has changed in Turkey over the past half century but not the fundamental character of Turkish nationalism. The Turkish nation still thinks of itself in terms of Islam and Turkish ethnicity, leaving little scope for the full integration of non-Muslims into the life of the nation. Most Christians in Turkey belong to ethnic minorities. In the case of the Greeks and Armenians, they are identified in the public mind with historically hostile states. Roman Catholics and Protestants are linked with the Western powers that imposed humiliating conditions on the Ottoman Empire, notably the capitulations for the protection of non-Muslims and the sponsorship of Christian missionary activity.

Four academics of Turkish background have highlighted this Islamo-Turkish supremacism in a 2008 EU-commissioned report. They argued:

Despite laicism, the Turkish state has not been able to overcome the segregation of non-Muslim minorities and to integrate them into the nation as citizens with equal rights. While the Muslim Turks have been the "we," the non-Muslim minorities have been categorized as "the other"… they have been rather perceived as "domestic foreigners."

The authors make further observations about the prevailing concept of nationality in the context of the need for the state to end religious-based discrimination:

Notwithstanding the spirit of the founding text of the republic, the notion of Turkish citizenship was shaped according to the legal context that prevailed before the Tanzimat reforms of 1839. Although the new republic defined itself as a secular state, Sunni Islam has been functional in the nation-building process as a uniting, common cultural factor of the majority of Turkey's inhabitants. A person who is not a Muslim is usually referred to as a minority person or a Turkish citizen, but not a Turk. Turk designates an ethno-religious characteristic of a political community.[69]

The extent to which this cultural phenomenon still influences Turkish society at the grassroots level is evident from the findings of an EU-financed public opinion survey conducted in 2008 by two Turkish scholars as a part of the International Social Survey Program. It discovered that

One third of Turkish Muslims would object to having a Christian as a neighbor.
More than half believe that Christians should not be allowed to openly express their religious views in printed publication or in public meetings.
More than half are opposed to Christians serving in the army, security services, police force, and political parties.
Just under half believe Christians should not be active in the provision of health services.[70]
The road from such views to outright discrimination and a heightened threat of violence is very short indeed.


All available evidence points to the presence of important religious and political elements in the assassination of Bishop Padovese. If truth is to prevail over "pious lies"—as the archbishop of Smyrna desires—Ankara and the Vatican will have to cooperate to ensure a full and transparent enquiry into the bishop's death. The credibility of an enquiry will depend on open examination of the details of the murderous act itself as well as on the broader circumstances surrounding it, including other violent acts of Christophobia and the encouragement of xenophobic attitudes by the media, the entertainment industry, and the educational system. This means penetrating the netherworld of connections between the Turkish government, the deep state, and radical political groups, and examining the institutional sources of Turkish Christophobia.

Such a joint investigation, perhaps with the assistance of the deceased bishop's homeland, Italy, or with the United States as Turkey's most important ally, would be an expression of Christian-Muslim dialogue in practice. A government-sponsored campaign to combat Christophobia in Turkish society would demonstrate Turkey's commitment to bring to an end its own historic clash of civilizations and replace it with a strong, equitable alliance of civilizations.

In the months that have passed since Padovese's beheading, Erdogan and his Islamist government have not taken such steps. This failure is a sign of a lack of political will to break from Turkey's historic tradition of Islamic and Turkish supremacism. Unless determination is publicly demonstrated, Turkey will entrench itself still deeper in an Ottoman-oriented Islam that is increasingly at odds with its Christian minorities, its former non-Muslim ally Israel, and the West.

The soft power of the modern papacy, with its appeals for religious liberty, can exercise a positive influence on Turkey and the rest of the Islamic world. But Islamic powers can see, as did Stalin, an absence of papal military divisions in the current clash of civilizations. Unless the thoroughly secularized nations of what was once Christendom provide firmer backbone, the Vatican will have little choice but to bend with the breeze.

John Eibner, chief executive officer of Christian Solidarity International-USA, focuses on religious and ethnic conflict, mainly in the Middle East, North-East Africa and Eastern Europe. He has visited these regions on numerous human rights fact-finding and humanitarian aid missions.

Source: Family Security Matters

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Turkey Threatens Israel

Turkey issued a warning to Israel on Saturday "not to repeat the human tragedy it caused last year" during the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a television interview, "It should be known that Turkey will give the necessary response to any repeated act of provocation by Israel on the high seas," AFP reported.

Asked about his government's efforts to prevent the flotilla from taking place, Davutoglu repeated a statement he made last week, asserting that while Ankara has "never encouraged any convoy," it "cannot give instructions to civil society" not to embark on the attempt to bust Israel's blockade, according to the report.

"We have shared our views about the safety of our citizens with all related parties," he said. "That was the case last year and it is not any different this time."


More Opposition Politicians Resign In Sex Tapes Scandal

Erdogan's opponents just seem to keep dropping like flies as a result of these mysterious sex tapes. Where could they possibly come from?

Turkey opposition politicians quit in sex video scandal

Six senior politicans in Turkey's opposition Nationalist Action Party (MHP) have resigned amid a sex scandal, shortly before national elections.

Turkish media say the six, including four vice-presidents, quit following threats to publish compromising videos.

Four other senior MHP leaders resigned earlier this month after secretly filmed images were posted online.

The scandal has fanned tensions ahead of the June poll in which the Islamist-rooted AKP is seeking a third term.

Lawmaker Deniz Bolukbasi, one of the six MHP leaders who resigned on Saturday, said he had been the victim of a trap sponsored by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP.

"I am resigning to spare my party the damage such allegations might cause," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

'Ugly plot'
The MHP, a nationalist group, is Turkey's second-largest opposition party.

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Istanbul says its performance matters a great deal, because Turkey has a high threshold for winning seats in parliament. If the MHP gets less than 10% support it will have no seats at all.

This, our correspondent says, would give the AKP a chance to achieve a 66% majority, which would allow it to fulfil its pledge to rewrite the constitution without holding a referendum.

An obscure group calling itself "Different Nationalists" has demanded that the entire MHP leadership step down, and earlier this month published the sex videos on the internet.

"The dark forces behind this ugly political plot, both at home and abroad, will come to light as part of the ongoing investigation," Mr Bolukbasi told AFP news agency.

Last year Deniz Baykal, the head of the main opposition party, the secularist Republican People's Party, resigned over a similar scandal after bedroom images of him and a female MP were posted on the internet.

Prosecutors have failed so far to find out who filmed and posted that video.

Source: BBC

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Turks Leading Foreign Criminals in Berlin

According to Berlin police statistics for the year 2010, immigrants committed around one fifth of all crimes in the city. The involvement of immigrants was especially disproportionate in crimes featuring a high degree of organisation, such as cocaine smuggling (67.2 per cent) or bag-snatching (59.8 per cent).

Of the 471,812 non-German crime suspects in total, 99,500 (21 per cent) came from Turkey, 31,771 from Poland (6.7 per cent), as well as 23,657 (5 per cent) from Italy.

The statistics do not include immigration-related offences or crimes committed by immigrants who now hold German citizenship.


Turkey Interferes in Bulgaria's Internal Affairs

A protest in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, yesterday, led to violence between the indigenous Bulgarians, who were demonstrating against the nuisance caused by the mosque's loudspeaker-relayed call to prayer, and Turkic Muslims who were praying there at the time.

The protest had been organised by the Bulgarian nationalist Ataka party, led by Volen Siderov. Accounts vary about who started the violence, but most of the mainstream press, predictably, is portraying the Muslims as the innocent party.

The Bulgarian Human Rights Commission has even called for the Ataka party to be abolished in response to the incident.

Scuffles broke out after one of the Ataka protesters tried to steer a column towards Muslims taking part in Friday prayers, Bulgarian National Radio said.

Ataka supporters shouted "Ataka","Bulgaria", "Turks out" and "janissaries," eyewitness reports said. Protesters threw stones and bottles at the mosque.

After the brawl broke out, two Ataka supporters were arrested.

Siderov alleged that one of the Muslims had thrown a stone at an Ataka MP, Denitsa Gadzheva, but had not been arrested. Gadzheva and another participant in the protest were taken to hospital by ambulance.

Five police officers and five Muslims were injured, the Interior Ministry said.

Siderov alleged that the police were biased, and called them a "janissary corps", a reference to the Ottoman-era practice of Bulgarians being taken into service of the sultan.

Local news agency Focus said that after the clash at the mosque, Ataka supporters headed towards the Parliament building.

Ivailo Ninov, one of the protest organisers, said that the event had been directed against the use of loudspeakers to sound the call to prayer, and not against Muslims. He said that residents of the area had joined the protest in support.


The Turkish government condemned what it called a "racist attack":

Turkey strongly condemned a racist attack on Friday against people praying in a mosque in neighboring Bulgaria, which is home to some 700,000 ethnic Turks, urging Bulgarian authorities to take the necessary steps to punish the assailants.

A statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Friday said Turkey expects the Bulgarian authorities to urgently capture and punish the perpetrators of the attack on what it called one of the most basic rights and freedoms of people.

This is extremely revealing of Turkish attitudes. Most of the Muslims in Bulgaria are of Turkic origin. The Turkish government clearly sees itself as the protector of the Turkish diaspora, including not just Turkish emigrants or even their descendants, but even people of Turkic origin whose families may have been settled in other countries for centuries. This is reminiscent of Hitler's attitude towards the Sudeten Germans living in Czechoslovakia. European countries should take note of this attitude and, given the Turkish colonies emerging in their own countries, are entitled to feel threatened by it.

Video from: fdesouche.com

Fatih Mosques Going Up All Over Germany

Imagine you heard that a "Lionheart" Cathedral was going to be built in Saudi Arabia; or a Bohemond Cathedral in Egypt. After getting over the initial amazement that the Muslim rulers of these countries had granted permission for a Christian place of worship to be built, you would think that naming the cathedrals after famous crusaders was a rather extreme provocation, wouldn't you? But that's what the Turks are doing in Germany. They are building "Fatih" mosques all over the country. Fatih means conqueror. It was the name adopted by Mehmet II after he conquered the city of Constantinople in 1453. The conquest was completed on 29 May 1453. Note the date of the inauguration plate of the Fatih mosque in Duisburg: 29 May 2003. This was exactly 550 years after the Muslim conquest of Constantinople. It is doubtful if many of the Germans understood the reference, but you can be sure the Turks did.

The Germans took the construction of this "Conqueror" mosque as an opportunity to show how enlightened they were. When protests against the mosque construction were held, a vast counter-protest was organised by trade unions, political parties and churches. The construction was financed by the European Union, the state of North-Rhine Westphalia and the Turkish-Islamic Union (DITIB).

Another "Conqueror" mosque went up in Bremerhaven. This too was welcomed by multicult-friendly German politicians, despite the mosque association belonging to Milli Görüs, an organisation which the German agency for the protection of the constitution considers islamist and anti-constitutional.

Hopefully someone will one day explain to these naive politicians what the word Fatih means.

Source: PI

Friday, 20 May 2011

Former Turkish Judge Granted Asylum in Netherlands

Is it not incredible that a country is still regularly the source of claims for asylum is seriously being considered for membership of the European Union?

A former Turkish judge who says he was prosecuted for his views on the fate of Armenians and Kurds has been granted asylum in the Netherlands.

Cagatay Cetin, who is of Armenian-Kurdish descent, claimed asylum after arriving in the country in January last year.

Charges against him in Turkey include forging documents and false accusation.

The Dutch government refused to say why Cetin had been granted asylum, adding it did not comment on individual cases.

Turkey has prosecuted individuals who describe the mass killing of Armenians in the early 20th Century as genocide.

Mr Cetin says he did "insult Turkish identity" - a criminal offence according to Article 301 of the country's penal code - by saying a genocide of Armenians had happened, his lawyer in the Netherlands, Marq Wijngaarden, told BBC News Online.

Mr Wijngaarden said his client had been accused under Article 301.

"He was interrogated on this accusation by a Dutch court, at the request of the Turkish prosecutor," he added.

Mr Cetin admits he left Turkey under a false passport, his lawyer said, but insists he did not forge documents or make false accusations.

Source: BBC

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Turkey Supplying Fuel to Gaddafi Regime

The Petroleum Economist today reports that Turkey is supplying fuel to the pariah Gaddafi regime. According to the specialist publication, a:

42,000 tonne cargo is thought to have left Turkey last night, a senior source in the rebel government, the Transitional National Council (TNC), told Petroleum Economist on 17 May.

Petroleum Economist confirmed, using AIS ship tracking data, that the destination of the second vessel, Cartagena, is Zawiyah, the sole operating refinery in Qadhafi-held territory.

Although this may be interpreted as an unfriendly gesture, particularly as Turkey is pretending to play a part in the NATO effort, it is not technically a violation of the sanctions in force.

Neither the EU sanctions against specific individuals and companies in the regime, nor UN Resolution 1973, under which Nato is bombing Qadhafi military targets, prohibit the sale of fuel to Libya. Nato may interdict a vessel only if it suspects it to be carrying weapons.

However, the EU is now considering tightening its sanctions to target refined products exported to Libya, according to a government source within the bloc.

Gaddafi is desperate to acquire more fuel so he can continue his war against rebels in the east:

Prices for refined products in western Libya have soared in recent weeks. The flow of fuel from Tunisia to Tripoli has largely ceased after western governments put pressure on the Tunisian authorities.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

William Burroughs Publisher Prosecuted in Turkey

Charges of 'incompliance with moral norms' and 'hurting people's moral feelings' brought over edition of The Soft Machine

William S Burroughs was acclaimed by Jack Kerouac as the "greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift", but a Turkish publisher is currently facing obscenity charges for releasing an edition of his novel, The Soft Machine.

A winner of the International Publishers Association's Freedom to Publish prize, Irfan Sanci has previously been sued under Article 226 of the Turkish penal code, for publishing books including Guillaume Apollinaire's Adventures of the Young Don Juan, but was acquitted in December. He and his translator are now facing further obscenity charges for publishing 2,500 copies of a Turkish edition of the Burroughs novel in January, which could mean a jail sentence of up to nine years.

The International Publishers Association called the situation "mind-blowing and disappointing" and called for Sanci and his translator's immediate acquittal, saying that the obscenity charges violate Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European convention on human rights. Last year Turkey was found guilty of violating the article by the European court of human rights when it banned Apollinaire's erotic novel The Eleven Thousand Rods.

Released two years after his best-known work Naked Lunch – which saw Burroughs himself prosecuted on grounds of obscenity in the US in 1962 – The Soft Machine is the first book in the Beat writer's surreal "cut-up trilogy". Featuring scenes of drug addiction and homosexuality, The Soft Machine develops "attitudes that were permissive to crime by concentrating on the banal, vulgar and weak attributes of humanity", according to a report by the Turkish Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications, quoted in Turkish paper Hurriyet.

The Council also accused the novel of "incompliance with moral norms" and "hurting people's moral feelings".

"Of course we are fighting it [and] we will win," said Sanci's daughter Bilge Sanci, executive editor at his publishing house Sel Yayincilik. "This book is a symbol of an author of the Beat generation."

"Turkish readers have the right to read books the rest of the world can read," she added. "And we haven't had any complaints from readers. The state's argument is about 'Turkish moral codes' but we are asking 'how can the state can dictate a person's morality?'"

A statement prepared by Sel said that it is "meaningless to expect William S Burroughs, who was not raised in accordance with the National Education Law, or as an individual who 'identifies with the national, moral, humanitarian, material and spiritual cultural values of Turkish society, and who always tries to exalt his family, country and nation,' to have produced a text within this framework".

"It is clear and obvious that this case carries no weight or respectability outside of the borders of our country," said Sel. "We demand an end to investigations that constrain our activities and the prosecution of books for any reason whatsoever."

IPA Freedom to Publish Committee chair Bjørn Smith-Simonsen called the prosecution "undemocratic, anachronistic and unworthy of a modern and open society ... Sanci is being harassed for doing his publisher's job. At a time when freedom to publish conditions deteriorate again in Turkey, it is urgent to stop these practices and to leave Irfan Sanci alone."


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Turkish Military Procurement Practices Compromise NATO Security

Turkey announced some time ago that it intended to purchase long-range air and missile defence systems. Various suppliers from the US and Europe are offering their wares. More disturbingly, however, Chinese and Russian vendors are also being allowed to bid. Because Turkey is already embedded in NATO's defence networks, and is an intended site for NATO's missile defence system, the Chinese or Russian systems would have to interoperate with NATO technology. This would give potential adversaries vital insights into NATO military secrets. Depending on how detailed the bidding requirements documentation is, it's conceivable that even participating in advanced stages of the procurement procedure could allow the Russians or Chinese to glean important information about NATO technology.

Chinese and Russian companies eyeing Turkey’s multibillion-dollar program to acquire long-range missile and air defense will not be excluded from the contest despite Western criticism, Turkey’s procurement chief has said.

Western critics have claimed that the selection of either the Chinese or the Russian firm could compromise NATO’s intelligence and security procedures.

“The two systems [Russian and Chinese ones] will stay among our options; there’s no need to exclude them,” Murad Bayar, the head of the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Turkey’s procurement agency, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Turkey’s choice on this large program is expected to be announced late this year or early next year. Bayar said Turkey would probably not issue a short list before its final decision is made.

One of the competing companies in the ongoing contest for Turkey’s national contract is the U.S. partnership between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, with their Patriot Advanced Capability-3, or PAC-3, systems. Russia’s Rosoboronexport is marketing the S300 and S400 while China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp., or CPMIEC, is offering its HQ-9. The Italian-French Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T Aster 30, is also trying to market its product.

Some Western experts say that since the Russian and the Chinese systems are not compatible with NATO systems, their victory could provide them with access to classified NATO information, and as a result may endanger the alliance’s procedures.

“If, say, the Chinese win the competition, their systems will be in interaction, directly or indirectly, with NATO’s intelligence systems, and this may lead to the leak of critical NATO information to the Chinese, albeit inadvertently. So this is dangerous,” one Western expert said.

“There are technical ways to prevent the Chinese and the Russians from getting access to NATO information, but this would drastically raise the price,” the expert said. “One explanation is that Turkey itself doesn’t plan to select the Chinese or Russian alternatives, but is still retaining them among the options to put pressure on the Americans and the Europeans to curb their prices.”

Turkish and NATO systems

Turkey’s long-range air and missile defense systems program, T-Loramids, has been designed to counter both enemy aircraft and missiles.

Separately, under a NATO plan approved during a summit meeting in Lisbon in November, the Western alliance will create a collective defense system against potential incoming ballistic missiles from rogue countries. Ankara agreed to the decision only after NATO accepted a Turkish request that Iran or other countries would not be specifically mentioned as potential sources of threat.

NATO now seeks to deploy special X-band radars in Turkish territory for early detection of missiles launched from the region.

Ideally, in the event of such a launch, U.S.-made SM-3 interceptors – based on U.S. Aegis destroyers to be deployed in the eastern Mediterranean and possibly in Romania – would then be fired to hit the incoming missile mid-flight.

Turkey’s national air defense system will be independent and separate from the NATO missile shield. But since both systems are, by nature, anti-ballistic missile schemes and both are supposed to protect Turkish soil, they will have to be integrated in some way.

The United States and some of its Western partners are opposed to the integration of any Russian or Chinese system into the NATO missile shield. “American officials already have said that non-NATO elements would cause serious interoperability problems,” said one Turkish diplomat.

The governments of the competing companies are also involved in a diplomatic campaign to woo Turkey.

According to a release of highly classified U.S. diplomatic correspondences by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has lobbied Turkish counterparts to select the U.S.-built PAC-3.

In a Feb. 16, 2010, cable sent to Washington by then-U.S. Ambassador to Ankara James Jeffrey, Gates was quoted as saying “nothing can compete with the PAC-3 when it comes to capabilities.”


Monday, 16 May 2011

Noted Muslim Scholar Bassam Tibi Warns Against Turkish Accession to the EU

Bassam Tibi is a Syrian-born Muslim who moved to Germany, acquired German citizenship and became a professor of political science/international relations. He floated the concept of Euro-Islam, arguing that to become authentically European, Muslims in Europe had reform their understanding of their religion, abandoning concepts like sharia and the jihad. Now, in this interview he gave to the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung (my translation) he seems to admit that this was a forlorn hope.

Mr Tibi, when you look at the revolutions in North Africa, what predominates, concern or joy?

TIBI: In English they would say it’s a mixed bag: hope and concern. The hope lies in the fact that large parts of the Arab population are on the streets, articulating their unhappiness without fear. My concern, however, is that the islamists, for example in Egypt, are already preparing to take power in the name of democratisation. The islamist movements are the only ones that know what they want. During the time of repression, they were the only opposition, working in the background and with their power bases in Europe: in Germany, Britain and the Scandinavian countries.

In Austria too?

In Austria too. The Muslim Brotherhood have a massive presence and lots of power. They were protected by the constitution here.

Is it not possible to create a democratic state with the Muslim Brotherhood?

They are playing a double game: outwardly the talk is liberal and democratic; in their own circle they are intent on a Sharia state. But Sharia and democracy go together like oil and water. Although in a democracy undemocratic movements need to be integrated, one shouldn’t hand power over to them. We are seeing that now in Turkey.

In Turkey?

Turkey is formally a democratic country, where the government is democratically elected, but the governing party, the AKP, is not a democratic party, but rather an Islamist one that rules the country as in a one-party state. 163 Turkish journalists are in prison without due legal process. Whoever criticises the Prime Minister Recep Erdogan today will be arrested tomorrow. The AKP are implementing a creeping islamisation of the country using formally democratic means.

At the same time Turkey is forging a new axis with Iran.

Politically Turkey is becoming a regional power and it is important to have a connection with Iran. Turkey remains a member of NATO, and still wants to become a member of the EU. At the same time it is slowly drifting from the western alliance and building itself up as a regional power in the Middle East, one that is partly anti-western.

Would the EU be well-advised to offer Turkey the prospect of entry in order to prevent this alliance?

That is an incredibly naïve belief in Europe. People say that if Turkey would become a member of the European Union, Turkey would be democratised. But the EU is not a democratisation club. You fulfil the acceptance criteria or you don’t. Greece, too, became a member of the European single currency on the basis of falsified facts. And the EU doesn’t make the Greek economy better. That’s how it is with Turkey in relation to democracy. After the Wikileaks revelations we know this: Turkey’s foreign minister said privately we want to become a member of the EU the better to be able to spread Islam throughout Europe.

Are you completely against Turkey’s EU accession?

In 1998 I spoke out in favour of the accession. At that time the country was still not yet under Islamist rule. I still don’t say no but we need to observe very clearly what is happening there. If Turkey continues to be characterised by this tendency towards Islamism, Europeans should close the door. I don’t want a country controlled by islamists to break the EU like a Trojan horse.

President Abdullah Gül was in Austria on a state visit, and visited an islamist student union of all things. Is there something behind that?

Yes. When he was still foreign minister, Gül asked the German federal government to remove the Islamist movement “Milli Görüs” from the list of anti-constitutional and undemocratic movements. The German authorities pointed out to him that in a democracy, public authorities work independently. Gül didn’t understand that. When the former US President Bill Clinton had problems in the Lewinsky affair, the Syrian president asked the American ambassador why Clinton didn’t just have the prosecutor arrested. That’s exactly how Gül thinks.

20 years ago you invoked a Euro-Islam, a secular Islam that separates itself from the Sharia. Since then, have European Muslims come closer to this ideal?

I have supporters. Last year in Germany they founded a movement: the Association of European Democratic Muslims. I am not a one-man movement, but I have to say candidly that the islamists in Europe, also here in Austria, are stronger than we are. They have more money, more resources. The deceased interior minister Liese Prokop invited me to a dialogue with the former leader of the Muslim religious community. He explained that the association had come to the conclusion that my model had to be emphatically rejected. I said: “If you don’t want to have a European Islam, then you are not for integration.” I stood up and left in protest. You can’t have a serious discussion with these people.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Turks Protest Against Web Censorship

Istanbul (CNN) -- Several thousand opponents of new Internet filtering rules, set to take effect in Turkey in August, marched in protest in Istanbul on Sunday.
Demonstrators carried signs in Turkish and English reading "Don't touch my Internet" and "We don't need protection," while they chanted slogans against website censorship.

Internet users must choose among four filtering options, including family, children, domestic or standard settings, as a part of Turkey's "Safe Internet Service."

The regulations are designed to protect children from indecent online content, according to BTK, the prime minister's information technology board. Critics argue that it is not clear how the filtering system will work.

The marchers stopped several times to stage brief sit-ins during the two-hour route from the Taksim Square to the end of Istiklal Street.

Organizers claimed the marcher numbered in the "thousands," which appeared to be accurate to a CNN reporter on the scene.

The new filtering rules will be enforced beginning August 22, the government said.
A "Enemies of the Internet" report issued this month by Reporters Without Borders included Turkey on its 2011 list of "countries under surveillance."

The BTK was "not fooling anyone when it claims to be rendering a service to Internet users by giving them a choice between a lot of restrictions and fewer restrictions," the report said.

Turkey already blocks more than 7,000 websites, "in most cases without reference to any court," the report said.

Source : CNN

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Amnesty International Criticises Turkey

Amnesty International had some harsh words for Turkey in its recently-issued 2011 report.

Key Findings:

Freedom of expression

There was more open debate regarding previously taboo issues. However, people were prosecuted under different articles of the Penal Code because they had criticized the armed forces, the position of Armenians and Kurds in Turkey, and ongoing criminal prosecutions. In addition, anti-terrorism laws, carrying higher prison sentences and resulting in pre-trial detention orders, were used to stifle legitimate free expression. Kurdish political activists, journalists and human rights defenders were among those most frequently prosecuted. Arbitrary restrictions continued to be imposed, blocking access to websites, and newspapers were issued with temporary closure orders. There were continued threats of violence against outspoken individuals.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment persisted, especially outside places of detention, including during demonstrations, but also in police custody and during transfer to prison. In November, the UN Committee against Torture issued a series of recommendations to the authorities to combat “numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations of torture” for which the Committee expressed grave concern during their review of Turkey.


Investigations of alleged human rights abuses by state officials remained flawed and, when opened, criminal cases were routinely drawn out and ineffectual. The losing of evidence by state officials, and counter-charges being issued against those who alleged human rights abuses, contributed to the perpetuation of impunity. Independent human rights mechanisms proposed by the government were not established.

Unfair trials

Unfair trials under anti-terrorism legislation continued. In such cases, excessive pre-trial detention without consideration of alternatives by the judicial authorities remained routine, and lawyers had no effective mechanism to challenge the lawfulness of the detention in practice.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Constitutional amendments improving protections against discrimination failed to address discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination continued in law and practice.

In March, the Minister for Women and the Family stated that homosexuality was a disease and required treatment. The government failed to distance itself from the remarks and no apology was issued.

Violence against women and girls

The government’s National Action Plan 2007-10 to combat domestic violence failed to record significant progress, due in part to a lack of co-ordination, insufficient resource allocation and the lack of measurable goals.


Friday, 13 May 2011

Turkey Insists Hamas is Not a Terrorist Organisation

Turkey has rejected the western consensus on Hamas by refusing to consider it a terrorist organisation. Although the US, the European Union and Canada all classify Hamas as a terrorist group, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan begs to differ:

"Let me give you a very clear message, I don't see Hamas as a terror organization. Hamas is a political party -- it emerged as a political party that appeared as a political party," Erdogan told Charlie Rose, adding: "it is a resistance movement trying to protect its country under occupation."

Going further, the Turkish PM said the world should not "mix terrorist organizations with such an organization, and they entered into the elections," adding that Hamas "won the elections, they had ministers, and they had parliament speakers who were imprisoned by Israel, about 35 ministers and members of parliament in Israel prisons."

"Where is terrorism? They entered into the elections and after the elections this is how they were reacted, I mean, calling them terrorists, this would be disrespect to the will of the Palestinian people," Erdogan added.


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Turkey is Planning Another Gaza Flotilla

A so-called "Freedom Flotilla II" will sail from Turkey and various ports in Europe towards Gaza in the third week in June. The flotilla will include the Mavi Marmara, the ship at the centre of events last year when Israeli commandos boarded it and used lethal force to subdue the resistance they encountered.

The Turkish government disclaims any connection with the IHH, the NGO which is organising the flotilla, but there is evidence of a relationship between it and Turkey's ruling political party, the AKP. Apparently the timing of the flotilla was also adjusted to benefit the AKP, being deferred for three weeks so that the start date will not come till after the Turkish elections.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Mysterious Sex Tapes Shaping the Outcome of Turkish Election

Bearing in mind the statements recently made by former judge Emine Ülker Tarhan, it isn't hard to work out who is behind the surreptitiously recorded and then leaked tapes which are effecting such an extraordinary cull of Turkey's opposition politicians.

The outcome of the June election is already a foregone conclusion, with most pollsters predicting that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will again cruise to an easy victory and hold on to a strong majority in the 550-seat Turkish parliament. The main opposition Republican Peoples' Party (CHP) is expected to do better than last time around, when it received around 20 percent of the vote, almost solely because the party was finally able to get rid of its long-term leader, Deniz Baykal, a year ago. Baykal, of course, was forced to resign after a mysterious video recording was posted online showing the 71-year-old and his (not much younger) former secretary engaged in some fairly tame hanky panky. It's not clear if the tape was a successfully executed inside job or a hit job that backfired, but either way, thanks to it the CHP has been able to execute a successful makeover (see this previous Eurasianet article for more on this).

Now it appears to be the turn of Turkey's other main opposition party, the right-wing Nationalist Action Party (MHP), to be hit with a sex tape scandal of its own. In recent days, hidden-camera footage has been posted online showing four of the party's senior members in compromising situations with young women. Two of them have already resigned. (More details here.) [UPDATE - The other two party leaders have now also resigned.]

The footage was released at a critical juncture for the MHP. The party, which received 14 percent of the vote in the 2007 parliamentary elections, is currently fighting to get enough votes to make it over the 10 percent threshold needed to get into parliament. Since the party's core constituency is not only nationalist but also socially conservative, the release of the sex tapes could be quite a blow for the party.

The MHP's leadership has blamed the AKP for the release of the online footage. They don't have any solid proof, but there is no doubt that one of the AKP's main election strategies has been to court the MHP's voters in order to keep the party out of parliament. As the Carnegie Endowment's Henri Barkey explains in a recent analysis:

Should MHP fail to pass the barrier, the AKP—given Turkey’s electoral rules—would almost certainly receive a disproportionate share of seats that otherwise would have gone to MHP. This outcome is what Erdogan would love to see and has strived to ensure. After all, every seat his party wins brings him closer to the 367 seats needed to alter the constitution with relative ease.

Regardless of who is behind it, the MHP sex tape scandal is also another reminder of just how pervasive the use of illegally obtained material, particularly private phone conversations, has become in Turkish politics.