Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Britain's new Special Friend: Turkey

The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, wrote the following in the Telegraph.
This week’s State Visit to the UK by Turkey’s President, Abdullah Gul, reminds us that Turkey is a country that is developing a new role and new links for itself, within and beyond existing structures and alliances. The UK and Turkey have a strong relationship across the range of foreign policy and security issues. Over the last 18 months we have laid firm foundations for that relationship through an ambitious Strategic Partnership which prompted the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to say that relations with the UK had entered a “golden age.” Indeed they have.
Source: Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Mainstream Germany Society Hostile to Turks

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Kebab Murders have stirred up political debate in Germany. Here is a translated extract from an interview Hans-Ulrich Jörges [on the right in the photograph] - one of the editors of the Stern news magazine - gave on the German news channel NTV.
How many murdered fellow citizens does it take, murdered by Neo-Nazis, till the mass of the people go on to the streets?

Jörges: …We note with some shock that there is no sympathy for the victims. At least not in the majority German society. In a minority milieu there is. Now and then we see a small group of people in a place where there were victims, stand in front of the door in the evening and light candles or hold up signs. Those groups are no larger than 100 people. The majority German society, we learn from this, apparently lives in a mixture of indifference, fear and even contempt towards the Turkish immigrant society that lives alongside it. They have very little to do with one another. They do not feel, do not consider them as fellow citizens. And if you look at where that comes from, I believe you need to look back at the last year. Last year Thilo Sarrazin rose up to be a folk hero. This man has transported the language of the NPD [German “far right” party they are now talking about banning in the wake of these murders, even though it had nothing to do with them] into the mainstream of society. He started the debate at the end of 2009 with phrases like “The Turks conquered Germany with their higher birth-rate”, they had “no productive function other than selling fruit and vegetables”, they “unceasingly produced little headscarf girls”. When you look back on it now, those are unbelievable phrases. And I say very deliberately that is the language of the NPD. And that book he wrote with over 1.3 million copies sold is the most successful political book since the war – incredible actually.

And what does that say about the mainstream of the society he was able to transport these theses to?

Jörges: The mainstream of society is receptive to such theses…


Jörges: Mainstream society rejects Turkish-Muslim culture. It is afraid of it. It doesn’t like it. Also it rejects integration. We’re always looking at the Turkish immigrants and their willingness to integrate. The German majority society also has no willingness to integrate, the majority society. And when we look at the mainstream again, on the internet there’s now a relatively well-known platform for inciting hatred against Turks and Muslims. It’s now had over 50 million visitors and more than 125 million page views. That is not a fringe milieu any more. That is the mainstream of society. So we shouldn’t just be looking at the right, although that’s correct; we need to look at the mainstream society too and see what’s happening there.
Source: PI

The internet hate platform he's referring to is, of course, PI (Politically Incorrect).

This news clip gives some background on the Kebab Murders that have provoked this discussion:

Friday, 18 November 2011

Recent Scenes of Turkish Violence in Europe

Amsterdam savagery - Turks vs. Kurds

Antwerp savagery - Turks vs. Kurds

Copenhagen savagery - Turks vs. Hells Angels

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Syria's Muslim Brotherhood 'open to Turkish intervention'

The Muslim Brotherhood obviously recognise Erdogan as a kindred spirit.
Mohammad Riad Shaqfa, a leader of Syria’s banned Muslim Brotherhood said Thursday his country would accept military intervention to stop the regime's deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protestors if it was led by Turkey instead of Western powers.

REUTERS - A leader of Syria’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood said on Thursday the Syrian people would accept military intervention by Turkey, rather than Western countries, to protect them from President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces.

Mohammad Riad Shaqfa, who lives in exile in Saudi Arabia, told a news conference in Istanbul the international community should isolate Assad’s government to encourage people in their struggle to end more than four decades of Assad family rule.

Hundreds of people have been killed this month, one of the bloodiest periods in the revolt that began in March. The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have died in the unrest.

If Assad’s government refused to halt its repression, Shaqfa said Turkish intervention would be acceptable.

“If the international community procrastinates then more is required from Turkey as a neighbour to be more serious than other countries to handle this regime,” Shaqfa said.

“If other interventions are required, such as air protection, because of the regime’s intransigence, then the people will accept Turkish intervention. They do not want Western intervention,” Shaqfa said.
Source: France24

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Jailed Author's Banned Book Launched

By Ayla Albayrak

The book was banned and the author jailed before it was published, but on Wednesday a group of fellow journalists and writers in Turkey launched Ahmet Sik’s “The Army of Imam” at an annual book fair, outraged by what they see as suppression of free speech.

Mr. Sik has been in jail since March and it wasn’t until September that the charges against him — aiding an alleged terrorist organization known as Ergenekon, that aimed to overthrow the government — were made public. His trial is expected to begin later this month. The book is being used in evidence against him.

Mr. Sik’s case and that of fellow journalist Nedim Sener, who was arrested at the same time, have become lightning rods for critics of the government’s record on freedom of expression. The European Union and the U.S. also have criticized the arrests.

The book was co-signed by 124 journalists and others, who revised and edited it for release at Istanbul’s TUYAP book fair Wednesday.

The book argues that the Turkish police force has become increasingly controlled by a religious Muslim movement led from the U.S. by Turkish Imam-businessman, Fethullah Gulen. Many Turks see the Gulen movement, which is known mainly for building and running schools in Turkey and around the world, including in the U.S., as a moderate and modernizing Islamic force.

But opponents say the movement has a hidden Islamist agenda. They say that since the Islamic-leaning Justice and Development Party, or AKP, came to power in 2002, the Gulen movement has become increasingly powerful, replacing the militarist so-called deep state that the Ergenekon case is designed to uncover, with a new Islamist one that also abuses the courts.

Mr. Sik’s book, a draft of which was widely downloaded from the internet after his arrest, is no smoking gun against the Gulen movement. But Mr. Sik’s supporters note his own long record of investigative journalism against the old deep state and believe he is being prosecuted and punished for doing his job as a journalist.

His book was renamed by his co-signatories “000KITAP – Dokunan Yanar” (000BOOK – Who Touches, Will Burn), referring to what he said on the day of his arrest. “Those who touch [Gulen’s movement] will burn,” Mr. Sik said to TV cameras and onlookers, as he was shoved in a police car in front of his house in early March, over eight months ago.

“We shall retain our patience, strengthen our perseverance, keep our determination and continue our protest until our friends, Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener are given back their freedom,” journalist Ismail Saymaz, who has also had his share of trials for his journalistic work, read in a press statement at the book fair. “In other words, “Even if we burn, we’ll touch!”

Mr. Sener also is charged with helping Ergenekon. He had been inspecting the shortcomings in the ongoing murder trial of a Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor, Hrant Dink, who was shot dead by an ultranationalist in front of his office in Istanbul in 2007.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that around two dozen journalists are in Turkish jails and none in connection with their journalistic work. Many of the jailed journalists are Kurds, accused of spreading propaganda for the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization in Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. Human rights groups in Turkey and abroad disagree with Mr. Erdogan. They say the number of jailed journalists is above 50 and that they were punished for their work.
Source: Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

New Approach to Integration in Germany: "Perhaps We Should Learn Turkish"

This shocking interview with the psychologist Thomas von Stosch appeared in the German newspaper "Heilbronner Stimme".
Heilbronner Stimme: What mistakes were made in the 60s from today’s perspective?

Von Stosch: At that time people actually did not think about how living together should be arranged and how the immigrants could feel at home here. For a people immigration means opening themselves up to the immigrants. But up to now it’s noticeable how difficult it is to welcome someone from another culture and especially to consider them equals.

To what extent is integration adaptation?

It’s necessary to distinguish between different migration processes. Whoever immigrates wants to feel at home here; that includes adapting themselves. He or she wants to live according to the rules of their new home and accept its customs. Immigrants assimilate and consciously give up something of their old ways.

This behaviour does not correspond to what a large number of migrants are living. Why?

For many migrants it’s not about immigration, but rather a process of migration of peoples that is taking place. The conflicts with many Turkish citizens can only be understood from this perspective. In a migration of peoples people remain connected to their homeland. They take their people with them and look for a new place for themselves. They don’t assimilate, but expect that their way of life, their language and their culture can develop in the new country, that is to say Germany.

Your thesis provokes objections because normally it’s expected of immigrants that they will adapt a bit. So is learning German not a necessity?

This demand is part of the old model, which is: go to school, learn German, be good, then all problems are solved. This fails to take into account the fact that the migration of Turkish people to Germany is a historical movement that is nowhere near complete. So sometime there will be Turkish schools and universities. The process can no longer be reversed; on the contrary, in Europe we are just at its beginning. We must consent to this development. Until that happens, understanding will not work. And only when we consent can we shape the process. I am certain it will generate something completely new..

Are we Germans then required to make room and accept parallel societies?

Migration was never discussed in terms of the migration of peoples, only in terms of immigration and adjustment. But we must engage with those who do not want to immigrate. Perhaps we need to start learning Turkish. The migration of peoples demands a lot of everyone involved. It’s about co-existence on the basis of equality. And accepting other people as equals, leaving them as they are, and granting them the same rights, that is a real challenge. For example, that a muezzin should be able to call in the mornings in the same way that church bells ring.
Source: PI

Is Turkey Building a New Ottoman Empire?

ISTANBUL—It’s a broken world out there and today, more than ever, Turkey is offering itself as the glue to make everything right again.

Need a new boss in the buckling Middle East? Been-there, done-that, for 500 years. See Ottoman Empire.

Need a modernist model to whip the revolutions of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya toward just the right blend of democracy, Islam and prosperity? Hey, that’s us.

Need someone to deliver tough love to Syria, Iran and Israel, all at the same time? We can do that, too. We’ve got the second-largest army in NATO, after the U.S. We play nice. We can even talk to Pakistan. And when we talk, they listen. Need a bridge between east and west that brings both halves together in harmony? Apply here. Good terms available.

Such are the superficial slogans of the neo-Ottomans, whose sultan — three-term Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan — is flexing political muscle unmatched since the days of Kemal Ataturk, who founded modern Turkey from the ashes of empire nearly a century ago.

Erdogan’s Turkey has reasons to preen. It can look to withering neighbour and longtime rival Greece with something approximating pity, whispering, “But for the grace of Allah.”

Like Greece, Turkey jumped through a frenzy of market-reform hoops demanded by Europe during its decades-long accession dance, tripling its GDP in the process. But the coveted EU membership never came, and now resurgent Turkey is laughing all the way to the bank. Which happens to be bursting with Turkish lira, not ticking-bomb Euros, thank you very much.

Turkey got the milk, economists will say, without actually buying the cow, thanks to a customs union with Europe that drives as much as 80 per cent of Turkish exports.

Look at any washer or dryer on the continent, for example, and chances are it is Turkish-made — an industrial boom that has lifted many of its 70 million inhabitants from a low-tech textile and tea-growing past.

You can feel the rising confidence on the exotic streets of Istanbul, where explosive sprawl means something close to 17 million people now reside in a megacity straddling two continents.

But more than anything you can see it in Erdogan himself. This summer, the prime minister, head of the Islamic-inspired Justice and Development Party (AKP), ended years of intrigue by imposing full civilian control over Turkey’s fiercely secular military elite. Four times between 1960 and 1997, Turkish generals toppled their governments. It appears now the era of coups is over.

But in September, it was Erdogan’s “victory tour” of Tunis, Tripoli and Cairo that raised the most eyebrows in these parts — uninvited, the Turkish leader imposed himself on the seats of the Arab Spring’s new rulers, offering advice and encouragement. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was especially piqued when Erdogan urged a secular separation of mosque and state as the way forward — and many Turks weren’t very amused either, given the absence of such a message on home turf.

Indeed, Turks themselves are as riven as ever with objections to Erdogan’s regional wanderings. They may be doing well, economically, but among the conspiracy-minded electorate there are many who doubt the AKP’s commitment to democracy, let alone the separation of religion and government that was laid down as Ataturk’s cardinal tenet for Turkish governance.

For evidence, most critics look no further than the country’s jails, where hundreds of retired and active military officers, journalists and political dissidents have been gathering dust, many accused of conspiring against the government in alleged coup plots known as Ergenekon and Sledgehammer.

“You have journalists labeled as terrorists because they dared criticize the AKP. And they’re talking about democracy? That’s been under siege here since 2003 (when Erdogan was first elected),” said Buket Sahin, an Istanbul-based writer/photographer and contributor to the country’s oldest daily, Cumhuriyet (Republic).

“Now Ergodan speaks as if he owns the country, just like a neo-sultan. The ones who were not put in jail were effectively bought, including many of my friends, and the result is silence as Turkey slides toward Islam and away from the secular society.

“I consider myself a daughter of Ataturk. He was the one who gave rights to women and ended the Sharia laws of the Ottoman era. Turkey didn’t need a new model because we already had the best one. And that’s at risk now.”

Some Turkish observers take a more tempered view, noting that dogma cuts both ways and even under the sway of its secular military elite Turkey was more autocratic than democratic.

British-born political analyst Gareth Jenkins, a resident of Istanbul since 1989, observes “secular space is shrinking” in Erdogan’s Turkey. From successive tax hikes on alcohol and cigarettes to the removal of barriers on expressions of Sunni Muslim values and a dauntingly large number (8,000) of websites blocked by the government, the AKP regime demonstrated a vision of the “more explicitly conservative society.”

One recent example: the Istanbul district of Beyoglu, a hub of revelry in a city that never sleeps, was raided repeatedly late in the summer with police teams stripping the district of its outdoor patio tables. District officials cited safety concerns, saying the unauthorized outdoor beer parlours had sprawled so completely across the narrow streets as to make the passage of an ambulance impossible.

The crackdown spawned a wild range of rumours — all false — blaming Erdogan himself. One version claims that the prime minister was offended by the sight of so much booze during a walk through the district on the eve of Ramadan. Another holds that a foolish reveler taunted Erdogan by toasting him with a tall glass of Efes beer as he strode past.

“None of the rumours about Erdogan being here are true. And the tables were removed long before Ramadan. But that’s Istanbul for you,” said Molly Farquharson, an expat Canadian and proprietor of Molly’s Café in nearby Galata.

“Still, the way it was done was very rude and ugly. In some cases, the police just told tourists to stand up as they sat there enjoying a drink. They seized tables right out from under people. And the result is about 2,000 service industry staff are jobless now.”

Jenkins said the patio table scandal is but one example in a growing list of AKP-inspired restrictions aimed at “the common demon.

“There is no great desire in the AKP party for sharia law. Their main aim is not an Islamic state but rather, a more Islamic society. So things like chairs and tables were removed — all right, now the ambulances can get through — but at the same time these things always coincide with something the AKP sees as offensive to their values. That’s why you will only see them pick on restaurants that serve alcohol.”

Mehmet Demirhan, a broadcast executive with Turkey’s Kanal 7, suggests Turkey’s shift toward conservative family values is more a consequence of the rise of a new electorate from the once-impoverished Anatolian heartland, the AKP’s political base.

“The Kemalists think it’s a religious thing — but it’s actually the opposite. It’s about class,” Demirhan said.

“As Turkey develops, we’re seeing the development of a new class of Anatolian people gaining affluence as they move to the urban centres. They’re becoming wealthier and more refined — but they are still traditionally conservative in their outlook. And they have the energy and the momentum in Turkey now.

“The secular elite doesn’t like it. But I expect time will heal those tensions. Give it another generation and their kids will all get along better than the parents.”

With Turkish democracy still very much a work-in-progress, few feel comfortable speaking openly, in Turkish at least, about this riddle of contractions, lest they fall afoul of dreaded penal code Article 301, which has been used to prosecute journalists for “insulting Turkishness.”

But it’s a different matter in English, which is why some of the most bristling domestic commentary today comes from such outlets as the English daily Hurriyet, where columnist Burak Bekdil last month mocked the “political schizophrenia” of Erdogan’s regional ambitions. From befriending the likes of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and Syria’s Bashar Assad, only to quickly turn on both, Turkey’s outreach has approached comic dimensions, he wrote.

“Turkey is a man who thinks he is a plumber, firefighter, Superman, Spiderman, Batman, sultan and everyone else” in the region, said Bekdil. “But sadly, at the end of the day, he looks like a comic figure from the circus.”

Jenkins agrees: “There is extraordinary hubris at play with Erdogan, in part because he is surrounded by terrified yes-men. To actually go to Libya and say, ‘We liberated you’ — and this from a guy who was the last recipient of the Gadhafi Human Rights Award (a dubious honour) — is astonishing.

“There’s a lot of self-aggrandizement in what he and the AKP say, all informed by the rhetoric of Ottoman nostalgia. Their vision is really to be a regional leader in a neo-Ottoman sphere.”

But the irony, said Jenkins, is that if Turkey were only to scale back its ambitions a few notches, “they would have a huge amount to offer.”

“What the Middle East needs is partnership, not leadership. But Turkey isn’t looking for partnership so much as hegemony. And that’s what is so frustrating about this moment. It calls out for Turkey’s strong, though not perfect, track record of parliamentary elections rather than Erdogan’s irascible personality.”

Kanal 7’s Demirhan, meanwhile, notes that in the context of the growing global economic and political unrest, Turkey at least deserves a chance to play out its hand on the world stage.

“The whole world can see the system is broken, from the Wall Street protests to the financial wreckage in Europe. Everyone’s looking for something else, some new basis for sharing the world’s wealth.

“For almost a century, Turkey turned its back on the East and looked only to the West. And now it realizes it can look both ways. So let us find out. If Turkey can do so with the Abrahamic spirit of a table where all are welcome, let it happen.”
Source: The Star

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Turkish Police Brutally Attack Earthquake Survivors

At the very end of this clip, you see the Turkish police wade in and start clubbing the earthquake survivors. The city of Van has a substantial Kurdish and Armenian population. No doubt that's a factor.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Historic Church to be Turned into Mosque

The Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Second Council of Nicaea, held in the Aghia Sophia of Nicaea in 787, declared the orthodoxy of icons and images. It was the last meeting of all the world's bishops that included representatives of both the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople, the leaders of Western and Eastern Christianity, respectively.

The church was turned into a mosque when Islamic jihadists conquered Nicaea in the fourteenth century; then, like its more famous namesake in Constantinople, it was made into a museum by the secular Turkish regime. Now that Turkey is rapidly re-Islamizing, it is a mosque again. "Erdogan's religious acrobatics: Nicaea council church back to being a mosque," by NAT da Polis for Asia News, November 11 (thanks to C. Cantoni):

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The specter of Aghia Sophia continues to plague the Islamic world of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. Not the most famous symbol of the church of Constantinople, but another church, Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (now Izmit), which predates the Constantinople church, having been built in the fourth century. It passed into history in 787 AD, when it was the last church to host a united Christendom drawn to discuss the iconoclastic question, in a truly ecumenical synod, before the fatal schism of 1024 [actually 1054 -- ed.].
This Christian church, the Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (Izmit), was transformed into a mosque in 1331 by Orhan Gazi who led the Ottomans and which was later made a museum in 1920, has returned once again to being a mosque.

All that was needed was a directive from the Directorate General for Religious Affairs led by Mehmet Gormez, appointed by Erdogan instead of Ali Bardakoglu, the man behind the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey, since retired. The move has elicited several considerations in Turkey and abroad in a period in which much importance and emphasis is placed on religious freedom. It is also noted that this decision by the Directorate for Religious Affairs, made in accordance with the Directorate General of Religious Foundations, to which the church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit belongs, is in complete contrast with the decisions of the Ministry of Culture in Ankara, which granted permission for religious celebrations in Christian monuments that have since been transformed into museums....
Source: Jihadwatch

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Non-Muslim Soldiers’ Experiences in the Turkish Army

Last year, writer Tuba Çandar published a biography of Hrant Dink. In addition to interviewing a number of people who knew Dink, Çandar also talked to Dink himself for the book: In that interview, he narrated his memories of his military service.

It was interesting to learn what mandatory military service means for non-Muslims in Turkey, where the minorities, including Greeks and Armenians, have been suffering with mistreatment and discriminatory practices for a long time. Dink said: “I have been subjected to discrimination my whole life just because I was Armenian. One of these occurred during my military service. During my service in the Denizli 12th Infantry Regiment in 1986, all of my friends except me were promoted to an upper military rank after the military training. I was an adult with two kids; maybe I should not have cared about it. But this discrimination really hurt. Everyone was sharing their joy with their relatives at the ceremony; but I was alone, sobbing behind the barracks.” This topic attracted my attention after reading Dink’s account. Recently another book has been published which may answer my questions. Researcher and writer Rıfat Bali interviewed 80 non-Muslims who served in the Turkish army, and published the interviews in a book titled “Gayrimüslim Mehmetçikler: Hatıralar-Tanıklıklar” (Non-Muslim soldiers: Memoirs-Witnesses). I have just bought the book; I am still reading it. Some of Bali’s interviews were also published in various Turkish newspapers. He makes some interesting statements in these interviews. Below are some excerpts from different interviews he gave to different newspapers, namely Milliyet, Agos and Radikal, which I found interesting:

“Perhaps it is no coincidence that most of those who responded to your call were Jewish and that only a few Armenians told you their stories?

‘Only a few responses came from Armenians. Of course, there are some differences between the experiences of Jews and Armenians in terms of the specific problems they met with as well as their relations with the state. The problems of the Armenian soldiers generally revolve around 1915 [when Armenians were forced to leave Turkey]. While enlisted in the army they witness anti-Armenian propaganda relating to the incidents of 1915, which they find offensive.’

Who are in the most delicate and difficult position?

‘Armenians. They are being tested and questioned because of the 1915 controversy. They have to prove themselves and their patriotism.’

But is not far more difficult for a Jew serving in the army now?

True: they may face offensive remarks about Israel and Zionism. The answer to such remarks is simple: ‘I am a Turkish citizen; the disagreements with Israel are none of my business.’” (Milliyet)

“You are saying that Armenians encounter the most serious problems during their military service; why is that?

‘The 1915 incidents become a matter of discussion every year; Armenians experience serious problems in their military service because of this. The difficulties that the Jews encounter because of the ongoing row with Israel are not comparable to the troubles that Armenians experience.’” (Agos)

“What changed after the 1990s, and have things gotten better?

Non-Muslims were viewed as dangerous through the late 1970s. They were considered dangerous particularly because of their commercial activities. But this changed in the 80s. Now the shrunken non-Muslim population is enjoying the benefits of affirmative action, which has been in place for over the last 15 years.” (Radikal)

Below are excerpts from a former non-Muslims soldiers’ memories related in Balcı’s book:

Yosi Kastoryano says: “When they separated the illiterates, former convicts and non-Muslims from the rest in the selection of staff for different positions, I wondered why I was being considered together with the illiterate and the former cons…”

Arsen Yarman says: “A high-ranking military officer came in, with a list on his hand. He said: ‘Those whose names I call, take one step forward.” Then, he called out: ‘Garo Halepli, Agop Yeşil, Ardaş Altınay.’ We were nine soldiers, all Armenian. He said: ‘You others go get your equipment.’ We were looking at each other, afraid for our lives. We thought they were going take us to another place and kill us. It turned out that they had chosen us for appointment as sergeants. But we were thinking that we were going to be deported.”

I hope that Turkey will someday fully confront its discriminatory and racist practices, and that this valuable work by Rıfat Bali is used as a textbook in out children’s history classes.
Source: Today's Zaman

Turkish Association Made Bizarre Claims About Christian Symbols Embedded in the Design of Cologne Mosque

The Cologne mosque has always been controversial. While it was till at the planning stage, it inspired the anti-mosque, anti-Islam Pro-Cologne movement which later blossomed nationwide as the Pro-Deutschland movement, one of the main Counterjihad movements and political parties in Germany.

Now that much of the mosque has been built, it is still generating controversy. A few weeks ago the Turkish association (DITIB) behind the mosque construction dismissed the company responsible for designing and building it, on the grounds of time and cost overruns and failures in the design.

The architect, Paul Böhm, is now hitting back, claiming that the time and cost overruns were due to DITIB continually insisting on changes in the design. Bizarrely, it seems many of these changes were due to DITIB's belief that the architect had embedded secret Christian symbols in the original plans.

DITIB claimed the three-part dome was a reference to the Christian concept of the Trinity. So Böhm changed it to a four-part dome instead. After extensive computer graphics processing, DITIB claimed this was a cross. So he changed it again.

Next DITIB claimed to have found an interwoven P and X symbol in the blueprints. This is a Christian symbol, the Chi Ro, constituting the first letters of Christ's name in Greek. Of course this was entirely imaginary, but the architects were constantly having to adapt the design in response to nonsensical claims like this.

Böhm ultimately blames the Turkish government for the dispute. DITIB is controlled by the Turkish government and the analysis behind the claims of Christian symbolism was apparently done in Turkey itself. Böhm claims DITIB has become increasingly conservative in recent years in keeping with the politics of Ankara. He also says he chose to keep quiet about all of these strange goings-on before so as not to provide fodder for "right-wing populists".

Billed originally as a symbol of "open and transparent" Islam, the mosque has instead become the exact opposite.

Sources: Köln Nachrichten Sueddeutsche Zeitung KSTA

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Turk vs. Kurd Violence in Antwerp at Weekend

I posted about this incident before but this video has more detail in it.
Police officers did their best to separate the two groups and prevent further fighting. At one point the rioters hurled street paving stones at the police that responded with tear gas. Calm returned around 1:30 AM.

The rioting has caused considerable material damage. Shop windows were shattered, cars were trashed and bus shelters damaged. A number of people had to be taken to hospital for treatment, but all have now been discharged. The police also report one stabbing in which one person was injured, but the exact circumstances have not yet been established.
Source: Flanders News

See earlier post about same incident here.

Turkey Accused of Using Chemical Weapons Against Kurds Again

The activists are circulating gruesome pictures of some of the 24 rebels, from the PKK guerrilla group, killed in the Kazan Valley in air raids that began on October 19. Blackened and dismembered, the corpses lie in a morgue in a nearby town with weeping relatives nearby.

Their allegations have forced their way into the open in Turkey, which is usually fiercely nationalist when it comes to accusations of abuse by the Kurds, whose campaign for autonomy is a long-running sore. The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, made a public denial of them as a "slander" while on his recent trip to the G20 summit in Cannes.

The activists say the only explanation for the type of burns exhibited is that some chemical agent was used. Their claims has now been raised by MPs from the legal pro-Kurdish party, the BDP, and taken up by the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD).
"One of our branches in the area has acted to investigate whether chemical weapons were used or not," a spokesman said from IHD headquarters in Ankara. He said chemical samples had been taken from plants in the area, as well as from clothes from the bodies of 13 of those killed.

The PKK has led a long struggle for recognition for the Kurdish people, who have no state of their own but also inhabit large areas of Syria, Iran and Iraq. In Turkey alone more than 40,000 people have died.

The moderate Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has granted Kurds more rights, particularly over the use of language, but the PKK have resumed their campaign, including suicide bombing, in recent months.

The government attack in October followed a series of coordinated raids by the PKK which killed more than 20 soldiers. Retaliation, including over the border into the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq, began immediately.

According to a local news website, IHD investigators, who were admitted to the region only after intervention by the local governor, found body parts scattered across the valley.

"The statements of both the relatives and eyewitnesses imply the use of chemical weapons. The bodies were completely burned," the local IHD branch chairman, Ismail Akbulut, said. "This allegation definitely has to be investigated." He said villagers had been told not to drink local water for two to three days.

It would not be the first time the Turkish authorities had been accused of resorting to chemical weapons – a particularly sensitive issue because of the massacre of thousands of Kurds with mustard gas by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in the late 1980s.

Last year, the German magazine Der Spiegel said experts at Hamburg University Hospital shown photographs of similarly scorched and burned bodies from a strike in September 2009 also attributed the deaths to the "highly probable" use of "chemical substances".

Ruwaydah Mustafah, a London-based activist and editor of the website, said that the Turkish authorities had ordered an autopsy on that occasion but had never released any results. "That's what makes us very curious and very worried," she said.

She said such allegations tended not to be widely taken up for fear of being seen to support the PKK, which is condemned as a terrorist organisation by most western governments. "I don't support the PKK but everyone has a right to die in a dignified way," she said.

The PKK attacks have also been followed a series of arrests of Kurdish intellectuals and BDP members across the country.

Mr Erdogan was asked about the claims by reporters travelling with him to Cannes. "This is slander," he said. "The operations in the Kazan Valley were carried out by our Air Force. The [bodies of] PKK members who were killed in the caves are currently in the Forensic Medicine Institute in Malatya, where everything is proceeding according to the law, down to the DNA tests."

A spokesman for the Turkish foreign ministry also said: "We reject these claims."
Source: Daily Telegraph

Video from:

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Turkish Genocide Denial Continues

Turkey has doubled its efforts of distorting the historic facts ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Young Turkish historian Mehmed Perincek has published his recurrent masterpiece, where he presents his views on the Armenian Genocide.

In” The Armenian Cause in 120 documents of Russian state archives” book published in Moscow the author tries to persuade that massacres were perpetrated by both sides, and blames the imperialistic powers and Russia for this.

The Turkish historian tries to prove the authenticity of his doctrine, saying it is based on 120 Russian archive documents. “When you look through the book, it becomes clear that the author has used only 63 documents, the rest are different Soviet-era publications against the Armenian Revolutionary Federation,” Director of the Armenian National Archive Amatuni Virabyan told a press conference today.

According to him, the Genocide-related materials kept in Russia archives are rather modest. There are more documents in the archives of the countries, which had diplomatic representatives in Turkey at the turn of the century. In particular, the German, American, Austrian, and even Spanish diplomats were reporting to their respective governments about the brutalities against Armenians of Turkey.

Director of the National Archive has prepared an article to be translated into Russian in the near future. This is a response to Mehmer Perencek’s book, where Amatuni Virabyan has enlisted all of the above-mentioned documents.

Ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide the National Archive is preparing to publish “Vshtapatum” (The Story of Sorrow) - a 1 500-page work, which presents the Armenian Genocide by the eyes of eyewitnesses, in Armenian, English and Russian, and possibly French.

In the near future the National Archive will publish about 1 200 documents on the massacre of the Armenian population of Kars in 1918-1920. The documents were collected by the commission set up by Hovhannes Tumanyan in 1919 and were to be presented at the Paris Peace Conference.
Source: Public Radio of Armenia

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Turkish Hacker Group Threatens to Attack Libération if it Continues to Publish Charlie Hebdo Cartoons

In an interview with the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche, a member of the Turkish hacker group Alcincilar has threatened to attack the website of the newspaper Libération if it continues to republish Charlie Hebdo cartoons. After the firebombing of the Charlie Hebdo building last week, Libération allowed Charlie Hebdo's staff to work from its offices and republished some of Charlie Hebdo's cartoons in a gesture of solidarity.

A journalist from Le Journal du Dimanche interviewed a member of the group in an Istanbul cafe. The 20-year-old, an IT student, who is referred to in the article as "Ekber" but uses the pseudonym "Black Apple" online, claimed to be the one responsible for the hack on the Charlie Hebdo website.
"We don't think we have done anything wrong. It's not as if we were siphoning bank accounts. It's a protest against an insult to our values and our beliefs." But the young hacker immediately insists on dissociating himself from the Molotov cocktail attack that ravaged the newspaper. "Of course not, we don't support violence. Islam is a religion of peace..."

Akincilar claims to have hacked more than 6000 sites, including that of Penguen, a kind of Turkish equivalent of Charlie Hebdo, which published a cartoon deemed disrespectful of Islam. The artist who drew that cartoon is now being prosecuted.
But the majority of Akincilar's targets are more political than religious. Thus, hundreds of Israeli sites, especially those of Mossad, were captured after the Israeli attack on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in May 2010. Armenian sites, Kurdish media favourable to the rebellion of the PKK of Kurdistan… Or more recently the site of the American petroleum company Noble Energy, which is carrying out gas explorations off the coast of Cyprus, in a territorial zone that is disputed by Turkey.

"We are defending our country and our institutions", says Ekber. After Charlie Hebdo, the hacker promises they will keep an eye on the French press. "If Libération continues to publish these drawings, we will deal with them too," he promises.
Source: Le Journal du Dimanche

Turks and Kurds Bring Their Quarrels to Belgium

Hundreds of Turks and Kurds fought one another in the Belgian city of Antwerp last night. A massive police intervention was required to contain the disorder. The fighting lasted from 10 pm till 1.30 am. In total, 5 people were slightly injured. This is the third time this week a fight like this has broken out in Antwerp. Ah ... Anatolian enrichment! Don't you just love it, Europe?


The video is a Turkish news clip about a Molotov cocktail attack (supposedly by Kurds) on a Turkish cultural centre in Antwerp on 2 November.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Turkish Hacking Group Admits Responsibility for Charlie Hebdo Website Attack

A few days ago I posted about speculation that the Turkish hacking group AKINCILAR (means 'Ottoman raiders' in Turkish) may have been behind the hack of Charlie Hebdo's website. Yesterday the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur received a communication (in English) apparently from the hacking group group, declaring its responsibility. Besides acknowledging involvement in the Charlie Hebdo incident, it claims to have attacked many other websites, including American and Israeli ones, to avenge various perceived slights to Turkey or Islam. It denies any connection to the physical attack on the premises, however.

The statement is reproduced in full below:

First of all we are appreciated for giving us the opportunity to explain the reason to perform this attack. has been one of the best security platform in Turkey since 2001. Our platform has almost everything about informatics and security topics. We have an active attacking group named "AKINCILAR" that attacks other websites which is not suitable for our mission to protest them.

Our mission is that;

# Struggling the publications that attack our beliefs and moral values, contain pornographic and satanist materials which perplex innocent people.

# The publications that are opponent to Turkey, our religion, and the situations which influence society conscience (This is in the direction of our mission's general principle) are within the scope of the attacks.

# We provide consultancy about security and other technical details to the organizations, sites and groups that are broadcasting within the context of our mission without expecting any benefit. (This is valid for only Turkish websites for now.)

You can find other detailed information about our mission by visiting the link below;

The website named "" became our target because of its materials that affront our religious values. Because of the fact that it disregards our prophet, we put our protesting content on the website's homepage successfully. This is not the first attack for our AKINCILAR group. In the past we hacked many websites that target our religious values. To set some examples about the previous attacks made by AKINCILAR which have appeared in media;

- You may remember that there was a website named "" which was insulting our prophet by its comics. We hacked that website's domain, and you can still see our protest context on its homepage.

- We have hacked 1500 USA websites to protest the situation in which gunny bags were put on 11 Turkish soldiers' head in Iraq on July 4th 2003 by USA soldiers.

- Many popular websites that attack our religious values have seen our protest texts on their homepages.

- Thousands of pornographic and satanist websites were hacked by us.

- We hacked hundreds of Israel websites contain Israel navy ministry to protest the situation in which Israel soldiers have attacked Turkish aid vessel named "Mavi Marmara".

- After popular hacker group named "Anonymous" have attacked Turkish websites, we hacked their social sharing platform named " and many other websites that support this group.

- You can find some of the information about our attacks by visiting the link below;

All things considered it can be concluded that it is unthinkable that we are attacking the websites randomly. Many people think that hackers are bad people since they destroy other websites and platforms. However, we try not to harm the database of the websites that we hacked, and only put our protest context on their homepages. On the other hand, we as a security platform, censure harming innocent websites and other hacking attempts that are malevolent. We have never thought to attack other religions' values and will never think. There is a tolerance and respect to other religions in our religious principles. “And we always consider expressing our protest and anger about disrespectfulness to our sacred values on the relevant websites' homepages as a rightful and a good cause.”

NOTE: There is nothing to do with AKINCILAR about the assault with molotov coctail to the Charlie Hebdo Magazine building. We do not support any kind of attack that is performed such a violence.

Sources :,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=ae347da71d3ff224&biw=1280&bih=670,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=ae347da71d3ff224&biw=1280&bih=670

Thank you for the opportunity of the explanation.
Greetings from Turkey

AKINCILAR Group Leader
Web Security Expert
Sources: Le Nouvel Observateur AKINCILAR Statement

Friday, 4 November 2011

Child Rape Scandal in Turkey

Pressure mounted yesterday on the Supreme Court of Appeals over a ruling that upheld reduced sentences for the abuse of a 13-year-old girl on grounds that she consented to sex, as Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin said the court was yet to pronounce its final word.

“The Supreme Court of Appeals is saying that the case is not yet over and that the media have distorted the issue. Let’s wait and see their decision,” Şahin told reporters in Parliament.

The minister said she had spoken with the victim, identified only as N.Ç., and her lawyers, pledging “all support” on issues the government might help with.

“N.Ç. is our daughter and Turkey is a state based on the rule of law. We will follow up this issue together,” she said.

The Supreme Court of Appeals said Wednesday that “not all aspects of the judicial process have been completed yet,” pointing out that the case covered offenses committed in 2002 and 2003, and that the suspects were indicted in six separate charge-sheets.

In 2002, N.Ç. met female suspects T. and E., identified only by their initials, who cajoled her into sexual intercourse with 26 individuals in exchange for money. The men included soldiers, civil servants, shopkeepers and teachers.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said the controversy arose from the fact that the case pertained to offenses committed before a penal code reform introduced tougher provisions in 2005.

The Turkish Bar Association, however, said yesterday that even the implementation of old provisions could not justify the ruling.

“To consider and accept that N.Ç. willingly allowed herself to be raped is against the realities of life, and also against the letter and spirit of the law that was in effect when the offenses were committed,” the association said in a statement.

Women’s rights activist Leman Yurtsever, who has acted as foster mother to N.Ç., now 20, said they were planning to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

A last recourse of appeal is also possible at the Supreme Court of Appeal’s general assembly chamber, which makes definitive rulings.

In a separate development, Minister Şahin visited Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel to ask for the Army’s support in efforts to stamp out violence against women.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Şahin said the military was a key venue to reach out to adult men and she would discuss how to streamline education for soldiers to raise awareness of women’s rights.

Turlish President Abdullah Gül also commented on the scandal, stating that he was "deeply disturbed" by the reduction of sentences.

"As far as I know, the judiciary process isn't over yet," Gül said via his Twitter account. "I hope that a decision will be made that would coincide with the public conscience."
Source: Hurriyet

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Another Gaza Flotilla on the Way from Turkey

Note this report is from Press TV, which is controlled by the Iranian government.

There is more information about Turkish complicity in this flotilla here.

95% of Turks Born in Germany Feel Turkish First

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Turkish Group Behind Hack of Charlie Hebdo Website?

Last night the Charlie Hebdo website was hacked into, and their offices burned. The hackers left messages in English and Turkish. The French newspaper Le Point suggest a Turkish hacking group may be responsible. :
The cyber-attack which affected the Charlie Hebdo site last night, adding the slogan "Be God's curse on you! We will be your curse in Cyberworld!", was signed Cyber-Warrior TIM, a group close to Akincilar, an association of pirates based in Turkey and known for their "defacements", that is to say inserting images on websites to communicate a message. On, the group lists its own record of interventions: there are many Israeli sites there, like the Israel Wander Tour travel agency or Noble Energy, a petroleum investment company.
Source: Le Point

Noble Energy, of course, is the company involved in oil exploration off the coast of Cyprus.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Front National Posters in France

The image shows posters for the Front National that are going up around France. They say "Turkey - Sarkozy Lied". Before becoming French president, Sarkozy threatened to block Turkey's accession to the EU, which has nonetheless remained on track.

Source: Vlad Tepes