Hamas Celebrates AKP Win; Relies on Turkish Support

Erdogan’s AKP Party Rocked By Scandal: Who’s Behind It?

Edogan

Some analysts are saying that, because of this corruption scandal, either Erdogan or what remains of democracy will exit from Turkey.

BY LONNA LISA WILLIAMS:

No one is sure who is behind the corruption inquiries that have been rocking Turkey the past week and upsetting Prime Minister Erdogan’s AKP Party, but there are several theories.

Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan of the AKP (“white”) Party closed down the private language schools of powerful exiled Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen. Then, to everyone’s surprise (even Erdogan’s), top leaders in the AKP Party found their families being investigated.

Erdogan called this an attack against his government and implicated Fetullah Gulen as being behind the sudden corruption inquiries that landed top government officials, bank presidents, and even billionaire builders in jail.

Gulen denied involvement in the “operation” (as it’s being called in the Turkish news).

No one really knows what is happening right now in Turkey. The U.S. is calling this “a family fight” and doesn’t want to be dragged into it. Whoever is behind this scandal, the fact remains that lots of money is involved.

Photos of cash, huge safes and even ATM machines stashed in the houses of top Turkish leaders have circulated the internet. Erdogan struck back by firing dozens of police officers and even police chiefs across Turkey, including the one in charge of Istanbul.

Gulen cursed this act of firing police officers (and, it seems, in doing so cursed the one responsible for the acts—Erdogan himself). On one of his websites Gulen wrote, ” . . . Those who don’t see the thief but go after those trying to catch the thief, who don’t see the murder but try to defame others by accusing innocent people—let God bring fire to their houses, ruin their homes, break their unities.”

“Maybe the CHP [the main opposition party] is at least partly behind this,” one Turkish man told me. “They are Ataturk’s party and don’t want to see his ideals of secular democracy betrayed. They also want closer ties to Europe and the human rights it offers. Too many Turks now sit in prison simply for speaking or writing what Erdogan doesn’t like. They don’t want to see Turkey become an Islamic state like Erdogan envisions. They don’t want to be dragged back to the time of the sultans.”

Read more at Clarion Project

Guest Column: Turkey’s Democratic Reforms Aren’t All That Democratic

by Abigail R. Esman:

 

More Dangerous than bin Laden? Protestors to Descend on Gulen’s Mountain Fortress in Pennsylvania

20100406_PaulWilliamsGulenCompoundby PAUL L. WILLIAMS, PHD:

A protest against Fethullah Gulen and his movement will take place on Saturday, August 31, at Logging Road in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. The rally is set to start at 2 p.m. and hundreds of Turkish Americans are expected to be in attendance.

The purpose of the event, according to organizer Armagan Yilmaz, is “to warn the American people” about Gulen, “a man even more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden.”

This description, Mr. Yilmaz insists, is not hyperbole. Gulen has been responsible for the transformation of secular Turkey into an Islamic state with 85,000 active mosques – - one for every 350- citizens – - the highest number per capita in the world, 90,000 imams, more imams than teachers and physicians – - and thousands of state-run Islamic schools.

Gulen accomplished this through the creation of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma, AKP) which now controls the Turkish government.

Within the past ten years, Mr. Yilmaz says, everyone who has opposed the militant Islamization of Turkey has been murdered or tossed into prison. Several Turks who escaped from the oppression are scheduled to speak at the gathering, including former Tirkish Admiral Turker Erturk and noted journalists and authors Baris Terkoglu and Baris Pehlivan.

20130828_FethullahGulenKuranYetimFethullah Gulen came to the United States in 1998 and settled in Saylorsburg after an arrest warrant on the charge of sedition was issued in his native Turkey.

Court records from his hearing for permanent U.S. residency show that his financial holdings are enormous, exceeding $25 billion. With these funds, he has established schools throughout Turkey and Central Asia to bring about his dream of “a New Islamic World Order.”

Several countries have outlawed the establishment of Gulen schools within their borders – - including Russia and Uzbekistan. Even the Netherlands, a nation that embraces pluralism and tolerance, has opted to cut funding to the Gulen schools because of their threat to the social order.

In recent years, Gulen has established over 140 charter schools – - all fully funded by U.S. taxpayers allegedly as a means of indoctrinating American students in his militant ideology.

“Under the pretext of being qualified teachers hundreds of unqualified disciples are brought from Turkey to the United States with an H1B visa to work at these schools,” Mr. Yilmaz says. “These teachers are to return 40% of their salaries to the movement in cash which then funds the movement. This way not only is the funding of the movement illegal but also tax fraud is committed.”

The thirty-four “Gulen-inspired” Harmony Schools throughout the Lone Star State have been established at an annual expense to Texas taxpayers of $68 million. The schools are operated by the Cosmos Foundation, a mysterious non-profit corporation with headquarters in Houston. In an interview with this reporter, Sonar Tarim, the superintendent of the schools and a member of the Cosmos Foundation, said: “We have no ties to Fethullah Gulen or his movement.” While Mr. Tarim admitted that the schools participate in the Turkish Olympiad, an event organized by Gulen, he expressed surprise that all of his schools were constructed by Turkish construction companies that reportedly are affiliated with Gulen and his movement.

*****

Osman Nori, the retired head of Turkish intelligence, recently alleged that the Gulen movement has served as a front for US intelligence by sheltering 130 CIA agents in its schools throughout Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

This claim collaborates the testimony of Sybil Edmonds, a former FBI translator and celebrated whistleblower. Ms. Edmonds says that Gulen and his movement began to receive vast sums of money from the CIA in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, when US officials realized that they could not obtain control of the massive energy resources of the newly created Russian republics because of a deep-seated suspicion of American motives.

The CIA, Ms. Edmonds maintains, came to view Turkey as a perfect “proxy” for US interests since it was a NATO ally that shared the same language, culture, and religion as the other Central Asian countries. But centralized control of these republics, she points out, could only be actualized by the creation of the Pan-Turkish nationalism and religion, envisioned by Gulen and his followers. And so, according to Ms. Edmonds, the CIA became Gulen’s partner in the creation of the New Islamic World Order. The money for the pasha’s schools and settlements, she says, came not from congressionally-approved funding but rather from covert CIA operations, including narcotics trafficking, nuclear black market, weapons smuggling, and terrorist activities.

Although Gulen and his defenders have refuted this testimony, a Department of Justice inspector general’s report called Ms. Edmond’s allegations “credible,” “serious,” and warranting a full and complete review. Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee members Pat Leahy (D-Vermont) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have offered her public backing. “60 Minutes,” the CBS news program, launched an investigation of her statements only to find them truthful and substantial. No one has ever disputed any of Ms. Edmonds’ revelations which she says can be verified by FBI investigative files.

Despite Gulen’s global ambitions, he continues to be presented as a moderate Muslim, who champions the causes of tolerance, peace, and good-will. Dalia Mogahed, the first Muslim woman to serve as a member of the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, says that the Gulen movement “offers people a model of what is possible if a dedicated group of people work together for the good of society.”

Read more: Family Security Matters

Paul L. Williams is the author of Crescent Moon Rising: The Islamic Transformation of AmericaThe Day of Islam: The Annihilation of America and the Western World, The Al Qaeda Connection, and other best-selling books. He is a frequent guest on such national news networks as ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR.

Also see:

Erdogan’s Ergenekon Farce Draws to a Close

20111004_ErdoganMapby ANDREW C. MCCARTHY:

The five-year farce known as the “Ergenekon” trial – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s purge of military and political opponents under the cloak of an “anti-terrorism” prosecution – is now completed. On Monday, a special court pronounced the convictions and harsh sentences – ranging from decades of incarceration to life-imprisonment – for dozens of the 275 defendants (66 of whom have already been languishing in prison for some time).

As expected, Erdogan’s ruling Islamic-supremacist party (the AKP) is hailing the trumped-up result as a triumph for “democracy” that strengthens civilian control of the military – many of the accused, including former army chief of staff General Ilker Basbug (sentenced to life imprisonment), having allegedly plotted to overthrow Erdogan’s government. But, asDer Spiegel reports,

[T]he evidence was questionable, and in some cases non-existent. The government hasn’t targeted a small, secret group of conspirators but half the military leadership. Many author, journalists, lawyers, businesspeople and opposition politicians are in jail. Erdogan, many critics are convinced, is waging a witchhunt against his political opponents….

The story that Ergenekon was part of an even greater conspiracy called “Deep State”- aimed at bringing the generals back to power – has become steadily less credible. Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003 and who won a third term in july 2011, increasingly resembles a power-obsessed ruler bent on silencing all opposition. Critics say his aim isn’t to submit the military to democratic rule but simply to cement his own grip on power.

The intimidation and the number of arrests has steadily risen in the last 10 years. Many journalists no longer dare to report what’s really happening, authors avoid making public appearances and government critics need bodyguards. The anti-terrorism law is an effective instrument of power for the government as the supposed terrorist threat is an accusation that’s hard to disprove.

Nor do Monday’s verdicts come in a vacuum. As the Guardian notes, last year more than 300 military officers were sentenced to jail in a case dubbed “Sledgehammer,” involving similar charges of plotting to overthrow Erdogan a decade ago.

My book Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy examines Erdogan’s Turkey at some length, making the case that Islamic supremacists regard “democracy” merely as a method to impose sharia on Muslim majority countries without violence. Ergenekon and Sledgehammer are classic examples of why, for all their “democracy” bluster, Erdogan and his ilk are anti-democrats who regard their police power not as the guarantee of the rule of law necessary for a free society to thrive but as a truncheon for oppressing dissenters into silence and submission.

Read more: Family Security Matters 

Brutality in Turkey

taksim-2By :

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has created his own private army: the country’s police forces.

When the protest in Gezi Parki first started, many Turks and commentators thought it would soon go away. After all, it was organized by a couple of treehuggers, who refused to let some trees be demolished in order for a new mosque and mall to be built. It is difficult to take something like that all too seriously.

However, after only a day or two, the protests suddenly exploded. Tens of thousands of Istanbullians joined, protests were organized in as many as 79 other cities, and entire families took to the streets.

The reason “the resistance” suddenly became so popular was Prime Minister Erdogan’s and the police’s reaction to the protesters. Instead of trying argue with them and perhaps reaching a compromise, they were brutally attacked by the police and insulted by Erdogan, who called them “terrorists” and “looters.” Secularists and other opponents of the prime minister saw what happened and decided to step in. “Enough already,” they said, “it’s time to take action against this man who wants to Islamize the country and who refuses to accept any limits on his power.”

Next Erdogan set his own personal army – the police – loose on all his critics. The results are shocking: at least four people have been killed and as many as 5,000 have been wounded. Additionally, many others have been detained and interrogated – even people who didn’t participate in the protests themselves, but who simply reported about them on Twitter.

Only a few years ago, this scenario would have been considered impossible. Now, however, it sadly is Turkey’s new reality.

How is that possible?

In the years leading up to the protests, the AK Parti has increased the size of the country’s police forces significantly since 2003. Not suprisingly, many new officers are AKP-supporters. Those who didn’t already support the Islamists have been dragged into their camp by receiving significant pay raises and by receiving more powers and responsibilities than they could have dreamed of when the country was still ruled by its old secular elite.  At the same time, the army has been systematically overlooked (with soldiers now being seriously underpaid) and its power dismantled.

The result is that the police now know that they are in charge and have no one to fear … except the man to whom they own their money and influence: the prime minister. When he gives them an order, therefore, they will obey. Yes, even if that means that they have to use their weapons against their own countrymen, who are simply excercising their right to the freedom of speech.

In exchange for their unquestioned support, Erdogan has embarked on a grand publicity tour in which he tries to improve not only his own, but also the police’s image. This weekend he said for instance that the police have “succesfully passed the test of democracy” because of the way they handled the protests.

Read more at Front Page

Tayyip Erdoğan, “God’s Gift to Turkey”

turkey-silent-protests-7by Robert Ellis:

“In the Islamic world, democratization has led to an increasing role for theocratic politics.” — Fareed Zakaria

The Turkish Minister for EU Affairs, Egemen Bağış, has declared that Prime Minister Erdoğan is a gift sent by God to Turkey and to humanity. But what do half the Turkish electorate do – as well as the rest of humanity – when the gift is unwanted?

There is no doubt that the Almighty has bestowed upon the world a special gift.

We have ex-Libyan leader Colonel Mohammed Gaddafi’s word for that: in November 2010 the Turkish prime minister was awarded with the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights for “distinguished service to humanity.”

During the award ceremony Prime Minister Erdoğan declared that Islamophobia was a crime against humanity and that Muslims come from a tradition that also regards anti-Semitism as a crime against humanity. At a meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations in March, however, he added Zionism to the list, together with fascism.

To cap it all, when Erdoğan was in Algeria during his recent North Africa tour, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Algiers, also for his contribution to humanity. On his return, Erdoğan was given a rapturous welcome by his supporters and saluted not only his brothers in Istanbul and Turkey but also those in Sarajevo, Baku, Beirut, Skopje, Damascus, Gaza, Mecca and Medina. There was no mention of Europe or elsewhere.

The crowd shouted, “Let’s go to Taksim and crush them,” but the Prime Minister preferred to quote the Turkish poet Yunus Emre: “I don’t come to fight, my job is for love. The friend’s home is in hearts, I come to build hearts.” In the meantime, the police in Taksim Square in Istanbul and Kuğulu Park in Ankara got on with the business of winning hearts and minds.

In his speech Erdoğan rejected the notion that he was only prime minister for the 50% and claimed he was the servant of Turkey’s 76 million. The great leap forward for the Turkish economy under the AKP that he mentioned is undoubtedly true, but it has come at the expense of civil liberties and a growing division in Turkish society.

Last November, celebrating the AKP’s 10 years of government, Prime Minister Erdoğan spoke of a mental revolution; this, again, is true. Religion has played a leading role in Turkish society, both with regard to public appointments and in awarding public contracts, and in the whole conduct of society. Shortly after the AKP came into power, one wag at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs changed his out-of-office reply to, “Gone to namaz[prayer].”

*******

Tayyip Erdoğan has apparently stepped back from the brink and agreed to abide by the court decision to suspend the Gezi Park project and later hold a plebiscite on its future. At the same time, the Prime Minister has declared his patience has come to an end and Taksim Square and Gezi Park have been cleared by the police. His Minister for EU Affairs, Egemen Bağış, has also stated that anyone who enters Taksim Square will be considered a terrorist. Woe betide the visitor to Istanbul who loses his way.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

What Turkey’s Riots Mean

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
June 19, 2013

Rebellion has shaken Turkey since May 31: Is it comparable to the Arab upheavals that overthrew four rulers since 2011, to Iran’s Green Movement of 2009 that led to an apparent reformer being elected president last week, or perhaps to Occupy Wall Street, which had negligible consequences?

 

The government of Istanbul told mothers to “bring their children home” but instead they joined the protests in Taksim Square.

The unrest marks a deeply important development with permanent implications. Turkey has become a more open and liberal country, one in which leaders face democratic constraints as never before. But how much it changes the role of Islam in Turkey depends primarily on the economy.

China-like material growth has been the main achievement of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the party he heads, the AKP. Personal income has more than doubled in the decade that he has been in power, changing the face of the country. As a visitor to Turkey since 1972, I have seen the impact of this growth in almost every area of life, from what people eat to their sense of Turkish identity.

That impressive growth explains the AKP’s increased share of the national vote in its three elections, from 34 percent in 2002 to 46 percent in 2007 to a shade under 50 percent in 2011. It also explains how, after 90 years of the military serving as the ultimate political power, the party was able to bring the armed forces to heel.

At the same time, two vulnerabilities have become more evident, especially since the June 2011 elections, jeopardizing Erdoğan’s continued domination of the government.

Dependence on foreign credit. To sustain consumer spending, Turkish banks have borrowed heavily abroad, and especially from supportive Sunni Muslim sources. The resulting current account deficit creates so great a need for credit that the private sector alone needs to borrow US$221 billion in 2013, or nearly 30 percent of the country’s $775 billion GDP. Should the money stop flowing into Turkey, the party (pun intended) is over, possibly leading the stock market to collapse, the currency to plunge, and the economic miracle to come to a screeching halt.

 

Erdoğan instructs parents, “I am watching you. You will make at least three children.”

Erdoğan’s sultan-like understanding of his democratic mandate. The prime minister sees his election – and especially the one in 2011, when the AKP won half the popular vote – as a carte blanche to do whatever he pleases until the next vote. He indulges his personal emotions (recall his confrontation with Shimon Peres in 2009), meddles in the tiniest matters (his deciding the use of a city park prompted the current turmoil), social engineers (telling married couples to bear three or more children), involves Turkey in an unpopular foreign adventure (Syria), and demonizes the half of the electorate that did not vote for him (calling them beer-guzzlers who copulate in a mosque). This attitude has won the fervent support of his once-downtrodden constituency, but also has wrought the fury of the growing numbers of Turks who resent his authoritarianism, as well as the criticism of Europe leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pronounced herself “appalled” by the recent police crackdown.

These two weaknesses point to the importance of the economy for the future of Erdoğan, the AKP, and the country. Should Turkey’s finances weather the demonstrations, the Islamist program that lies at the heart of the AKP’s platform will continue to advance, if more cautiously. Perhaps Erdoğan himself will remain leader, becoming the country’s president with newly enhanced powers next year; or perhaps his party will tire of him and – as happened to Margaret Thatcher in 1990 – push him aside in favor of someone who can carry out the same program without provoking so much hostility.

 

After two weeks of demonstrations, the Istanbul stock exchange lost nearly 10 percent of its value.

But if “hot money” flees Turkey, if foreign investors go elsewhere, and if Persian Gulf patrons cool on the AKP, then the demonstrations could end AKP rule and rupture the drive toward Islamism and the application of Islamic law. Infighting within the party, especially between Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, or within the Islamist movement, especially between the AKP and Fethullah Gülen‘s powerful movement, could weaken the Islamists. More profoundly, the many non-Islamist voters who voted for the AKP’s sound economic stewardship might abandon the party.

Payroll employment is down by 5 percent. Real consumer spending in first quarter 2013 fell by 2 percent over 2012. Since the demonstrations started, the Istanbul stock market is down 10 percent and interest rates are up about 50 percent. To assess the future of Islamism in Turkey, watch these and other economic indicators.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Turkey: Artists, Free Press Under Fire

Turkish PM Erdogan greets Syrian refugees with his wife Emine on the Turkish/ Syrian border near Akcakale. (Photo: Reuters)

Turkish PM Erdogan greets Syrian refugees with his wife Emine on the Turkish/ Syrian border near Akcakale. (Photo: Reuters)

by: Abigail R. Esman

Islamofascism, a controversial buzzword among the pundits and commentators since the attacks of 9/11. The term poses any number of questions, particularly for governments of Muslim countries: Is Political Islam a fascist ideology? Can Islam coexist with democracy? What is the difference between Nationalism and Islamism in an Islamic state?

These are precisely the issues that now rear their heads in the face of a series of arrests, lawsuits, and most recently, allegations of a state-sponsored assassination in Turkey over the past several months, and which have captured the attentions not only of the international media, but of human rights organizations worldwide.

Fazil Say

Fazil Say

Moves that elicit accusations of Islamism and fascist dictatorships are not new to the governing style of Turkey’s current government, led by the Islamist AKP, or Freedom and Development party.   Ongoing imprisonment of journalists, coupled with the arrest of world renowned pianist/composer Fazil Say last April on charges of insulting Islam, as well as the filing of charges earlier this month against the Turkish chapter of PEN for their defense of Mr. Say and “denigration of the state,” have particularly alarmed human rights activists abroad and pro democracy advocates at home.The charges against Say were brought after the 42-year-old musician joked on Twitter about a call to prayer lasting less than a minute. Sending out the message to his thousands of subscribers, the openly atheist Say wrote, “Why such haste? Have you got a mistress waiting or a raki on the table?”

Fundamentalist Muslims were not amused. The references to a mistress and to raki, an alcoholic drink, were inappropriate and insulting, they said, leading prosecutors to charge him with “public enmity” and “denigration of Islam.” If found guilty when his case comes to trial next month, Say could face a prison term of 18 months.

But the joke was not Say’s only misdeed.  Charges were also brought against him for another tweet, in which he quoted Omar Khayyam: “You say rivers of wine flow in heaven, is heaven a tavern for you? You say two houris [virgins] await each believer there, is heaven a brothel to you?”

What is significant about this is that Say’s tweet was, in fact, a “retweet” – the reposting of a twitter comment someone else had initiated. Moreover, hundreds, if not thousands, of others had also tweeted the same text.  Why, then, was Say singled out?

The case made headlines worldwide.  In an interview with Newsweek last June, Say defended himself, saying, “I did not insult Islam. I just retweeted a verse that I thought was funny. One hundred and 65 others retweeted that verse the same night, but I am the only one being tried.”

Neither Say and nor his manager responded to my requests for further comment on the case. It is said that he is no longer speaking to the press on this issue – an understandable position, if true.

But supporters of the 42-year-old pianist – who has performed with the New York Philharmonic, among others – continue to speak out. In June, the Turkish chapter of PEN issued a statement condemning the prosecution of Say: “The international community has been put on alert in the face of fascist developments in Turkey,”

Read more at Radical Islam

Abigail R. Esman, an award-winning writer based in New York and the Netherlands, is the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West

Turkey, Closest to Leading the Middle East

by Şenay Yıldız Akşam January 7, 2013

http://www.danielpipes.org/12459/turkey-leading-middle-east

Translation of the original text: Ortadoğu liderliğine en yakın ülke Türkiye Translated by Elif S. Gürbey

N.B.: This translation from Turkish includes numerous changes in the text by Daniel Pipes to improve the presentation and to make it more accurate.

Founder and president of the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes is well known for his work on the Middle East and political Islam. Pipes, an award-winning columnist for the National Review and Jerusalem Post, writes commentaries and articles about the Middle East in leading media organizations such as the BBC, Al Jazeera, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. After visiting Turkey last month, Pipes, who has 12 books and numerous articles on Islam, Syria, and the Middle East, published an article in National Review Online titled “Talking Turkey.” We talked with him [in mid-December] about his impressions of Turkey and his expectations from the Middle East.

- When were you in Turkey the last time? I was in Turkey two weeks ago. I visited in 2007 as well. My first visit to Turkey was in 1972. I spent the summer of 1973 trying to learn Turkish while living in Istanbul’s Üsküdar quarter … but I was not very successful at it.

- How long did you stay in Turkey before writing your last article, “Talking Turkey”? Did you meet anyone from the government? I stayed in Turkey for 5 days. My request to meet members of the AKP did not succeed. However, I was able to meet with representatives of the CHP (Republican People’s Party) and the Gülen movement.

- Considering your visits to Turkey, what kind of difference do you see between now and then? Two major changes occurred in the last 40 years. First, economic development, especially in Istanbul: there are so many new buildings, businesses, and global brands. This differs completely from the Turkey I saw 40 years ago, which was quite separated from international business. Second, Islam. The religiosity of people in Turkey was semi-visible then. If it was necessary to go to mosques or other places to see them, now they are everywhere.

- Do you mean women who wear headscarf? Yes, the turban [headscarf] symbolizes this phenomenon. Many observers used to see Turkey as a European country with a different language. As someone interested in the history of Muslims, I always saw Turkey as a Muslim Middle Eastern country. The Atatürk revolution impressed me and I began writing a book comparing it with the Meiji transformation in Japan. I find it strange to see Turkey as European just because a small part of its territory is in Europe. Would Morocco controlling Gibraltar make it a European country? I think not.

2055- Does Turkey fit exactly into the Middle East? Yes, Turkey is historically, culturally, religiously, commercially, and politically a part of the Middle East.

- Do you think Islam’s visibility is negative? I have no opinion if people want to pray, fast, and on pilgrimage to Mecca. I do, however, have an opinion on attempts to implement the Shari’a. The Shari’a causes great suffering, sorrow, and pain. In the past [Necmettin] Erbakan and now [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is moving toward Islamic law and I think this a terrible development.

- Do you really think Erdoğan is heading toward Sharia? Almost everybody I spoke to in Turkey told me, “Turkey will never be a country where hands are cut off, of burqas or jihad. Erdoğan, Gül, Davutoğlu, Arınç, and Gülen all know that and accept the order Ataturk implemented 80-90 years ago. They are only trying to create a more religious environment within that order.” Among those I spoke to, only an Alevi person did not subscribe to this opinion. According to him, Erdoğan and Gül aspire to apply Islamic law. “It will take a very long time,” he noted, “but it is their objective.” I agree with this view.

- As someone who lives in Turkey, I am having hard time to understand how you can see implementation of Shari’a. What makes you so skeptical about the AK Party’s goals? Gül and Erdoğan were members of Erbakan’s Virtue Party in the 1990s; and although he failed to achieve his objectives because he was removed from power by the military, Erbakan clearly intended to apply the Shari’a. The question now is: Did Gül and Erdoğan only change their tactics to maneuver better than him – or did they really abandon his objectives? I do not believe they altered their goals. I grant that I am speculating here because I cannot read their minds but it makes more sense to conclude that they only changed tactics.

As I see it, these lieutenants of Erbakan learned a lesson from his mistakes and are now implementing his policies more intelligently. Erdoğan is a more capable and sophisticated version of Erbakan. Should the AKP stay in power, the implementation of Islamic law will begin. The result will not look like Afghanistan under the Taliban, the Islamic Republic of Iran, or Saudi Arabia but the Shari’a will give direction to the social order.

I expect the AKP to rule for a long time, in part because the opposition in Turkey is so weak. It is reduced to hoping for divisions between Gül and Erdoğan, or Gülen and the AKP. The intellectual base of the CHP and the other parties is weak.

- Can you clarify your comment in your last article, that you heard that the AKP aspires “to create a post-Atatürk order more than an anti-Atatürk order”? Does the AKP leadership really accept the order established by Atatürk? I have my doubts. I think, deep in the leaders’ hearts, they want step by step to erase Ataturk’s accomplishments. In this sense, Erdoğan is the anti-Atatürk. Let me add that I have no problem with the removal of Atatürk from walls, quotations, and celebrations. It seems odd that a person who died 75 years ago remains ubiquitous. In the United States, I would not welcome seeing George Washington everywhere.

- Turkey is in leadership struggle for the Middle East. Do you think that Turkey can be the greatest power in the Middle East? Turkey absolutely is the best candidate right now for Middle East leadership. Given its population, the ruling party’s vision, its economic strength, and its intellectual capacity, Turkey is the country closest to leading the Middle East.

- What do you think of highly controversial Gülen movement? I never met Gülen, though he lives near me in Philadelphia. I know a number of people from the movement. It is highly sophisticated, intellectual, and impressive, especially the hundreds of schools. In my opinion, its objective is to make Islam the primary component that regulates people’s lives, and it works for this very carefully and cleverly.

Islamism in Turkey is far more intellectual than, for example, in Egypt. Take a look at Mohamed Morsi: in a few months, he tried to do more than the AKP has attempted in ten years, and for that reason, he is in great danger. Egypt faces so many problems, from a sinking economy to violent protests on the streets. In contrast, Gülen builds schools and has a media empire, which is much more impressive than Muslim Brotherhood, Khomeini, or the Taliban. For me, the most powerful feature that separates Islam in Turkey from other countries is capable leadership.

- The Arab Spring began with high hopes; at this point, do you think it brought spring to the Arabs? I never call it “Arab Spring”; the term Arab uprising is much more accurate. The Arab Middle East was surprisingly stable between 1970 and 2010, with little change of the dictators in charge. These regimes lacked an ideology or vision, so they—except for Syria—established good relations with the U.S. government. Following the incident in Tunisia in December 2010, the Islamists have increased their power. I believe this worsens things for the people of the region: dictators are bad enough but Islamists are even worse. Dictators kill tens of people; Islamists kill hundreds or thousands.

- Why are you contrasting Islamists and Americans? Islamism is the third totalitarian movement. We beat the fascist and communist threats; now we have to defeat the Islamists.

- Saudi Arabia is very close partner of the United States. No, Canada is a close partner. Saudi Arabia is only a tactical partner. The U.S. and Saudi governments work together but differ in everything from ways of life to long-term ambitions.

- Do you criticize Saudi Arabia? Yes, the government in Saudi Arabia is horrible. I am uncomfortable with the extent of privileges given to Saudi Arabia in Washington.

- You have a very negative, inflexible position about Islam? No, I am not negative about Islam, but I am negative about Islamism. A government, a movement, or a people who seek ways to implement Islamic law fully are rather a small minority in nearly every country. They are not the majority, and yes, I am negative about them. My motto is; radical Islam is a problem moderate Islam is the solution.

- Which countries you can think of in the Middle East that can implement a moderate version of Islam? Governments such as Iran, Turkey, and Tunisia that followed a moderate version of Islam are gone. Nowadays, the closest example is Algeria. The AKP and Gülen movement try to look like moderate, but they are not because both want to implement Shari’a.

- In the mission statement of the Middle East Forum’s Legal Project, of which you are the founder, it says, you “work to protect the right in the West to freely discuss Islam, radical Islam, terrorism, and terrorist funding..” But Islam is not the only religion in the Middle East, so why do you not show same concern about Christianity and Judaism? I do not see Islamism is comparable to anything in Judaism or Christianity. As I mentioned earlier, I see it comparable to Communism and Fascism. I see Islamism as far more a bigger threat than Jewish nationalism or a fundamentalist Christianity. You can criticize Jews and Judaism, Christians and Christianity without facing danger. However, you risk your life criticizing Islam.

Talking Turkey: As Turkey’s “chief social engineer,” Erdogan talks up secularism and prepares the way for sharia

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

by Daniel Pipes, December 26, 2012

The menu for meals on my Turkish Airlines flight earlier this month assured passengers that food selections “do not contain pork.” The menu also offered a serious selection of alcoholic drinks, including champagne, whiskey, gin, vodka, rakı, wine, beer, liqueur, and cognac. This oddity of simultaneously adhering to and ignoring Islamic law, the Shari’a, symbolizes the uniquely complex public role of Islam in today’s Turkey, as well as the challenge of understanding the Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish abbreviation, AKP) which has dominated the country’s national government since 2002.

Political discussions about Turkey tend to dwell on whether the AKP is Islamist or not: In 2007, for example, I asked “what are the AKP leadership’s intentions? Did it … retain a secret Islamist program and simply learn to disguise its Islamist goals? Or did it actually give up on those goals and accept secularism?”

During recent discussions in Istanbul, I learned that Turks of many viewpoints have reached a consensus about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: they worry less about his Islamic aspirations than his nationalist and dictatorial tendencies.

Applying the Shari’a in full, they say, is not a feasible goal in Turkey because of the country’s secular and democratic nature, something distinguishing it from other Muslim-majority countries (except Albania, Kosovo, and Kyrgyzia). Accepting this reality, the AKP wins ever-greater electoral support by softly coercing the population to be more virtuous, traditional, pious, religious, conservative, and moral. Thus, it encourages fasting during Ramadan and female modesty, discourages alcohol consumption, attempted to criminalize adultery, indicted an anti-Islamist artist, increased the number of religious schools, added Islam to the public school curriculum, and introduced questions about Islam to university entrance exams. Put in terms of Turkish Airlines, pork is already gone and it’s a matter of time until the alcohol also disappears.

Islamic practice, not Islamic law, is the goal, my interlocutors told me. Hand chopping, burqas, slavery, and jihad are not in the picture, and all the less so after the past decade’s economic growth which empowered an Islamically-oriented middle class that rejects Saudi-style Islam. An opposition leader noted that five districts of Istanbul “look like Afghanistan,” but these are the exception. I heard that the AKP seeks to reverse the anti-religiousness of Atatürk’s state without undermining that state, aspiring to create a post-Atatürk order more than an anti-Atatürk order. It seeks, for example, to dominate the existing legal system rather than create an Islamic one. The columnist Mustafa Akyol even holds the AKP is not trying to abolish secularism but that it “argues for a more liberal interpretation of secularism.” The AKP, they say, emulates the 623-year-old Ottoman state Atatürk terminated in 1922, admiring both its Islamic orientation and its dominance of the Balkans and the Middle East.

Mohamed Morsi could learn a thing or two from Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Read more at National Review Online

Daniel Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum

 

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Pushing Back Against Stealth Jihad Charter Schools

By Arnold Ahlert

Americans may not realize it yet, but Turkey’s regression from a secular democracy into an Islamic state may be based on an educational movement that has also taken root in America. Imam Fethullah Gülen and his Gülen Movement (GM) have had enormousinfluence in setting the increasingly Islamist agenda of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Much of this is due to GM’s vast empire of media entities, financial institutions, banks and business organizations. But the most critical component of this empire is educational institutions. In Turkey, 75 percent of the nation’s two million preparatory school students are enrolled in Gülen institutions. In America, GM runs the largest charter school network in the nation. Such an empire is slowly receiving the kind of scrutiny–and pushback from concerned Americans–that it deserves.

The principals and school board members of GM charter schools are primarily Turkish men. Hundreds of Turkish teachers have been admitted to the United States using H-1B visas, because the schools claim qualified Americans cannot be found. Moreover, an examination of federal tax forms and school documents reveals that GM charter schools tend to purchase a substantial portion of their goods and services from Gülenist businesses.

This symbiotic relationship is occurring in many areas around the nation. For example, a trio of GM schools in Georgia are currently in the spotlight because they defaulted on a $19 million bond issue. An audit revealed the schools improperly granted hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts for purchases like T-shirts, teacher training, and video production services from organizations with connections to school officials, or Gülen followers, or to businesses and groups with ties to the Gülen Movement. In some cases, bidding requirements were ignored. “I would just question how those vendors were selected when price in many instances wasn’t part of the decision making,” said Fulton County superintendent Robert Avossa.

In Texas, similar allegations have been aimed at the Cosmos Foundation, a charter school operator founded a decade ago by a group of professors and businessmen from Turkey. The group, currently using the name Harmony Schools, has become the biggest charter operation in the state, and while its primary mission is educating schoolchildren, it has forged ongoing relationships with a close-knit network of businesses and organizations run by Turkish immigrants. Some of those founders, as well as school operators, and many of their business suppliers, are followers of Fethullah Gülen.

Harmony receives more than $100 million a year in taxpayer funds. When questioned how that money was spent with regards to awarding contracts, Harmony produced a list showing that local American companies had been awarded only 13 construction and renovation jobs over several years. On the other hand, a New York Times review of contracts since January 2009, totaling 35 contracts and $82 million worth of work, revealed that all but 3 jobs worth about $1.5 million went to Turkish-owned businesses. Such contracts included an $8.2 million deal awarded to TDM Contracting to build the Harmony School of Innovation during the company’s very first month in business. Such “good fortune” is in direct contrast to established local companies that claimed they weren’t awarded contracts, despite bidding several hundred thousand dollars lower.

One of those companies is Atlas Texas Construction and Trading, a Houston-based contractor with offices in Texas and Turkey. Atlas was awarded two contracts by Cosmos in Texas, the fairness of which was questioned by local contractors, who wondered why the company got both jobs when it was underbid by one company on one job, and four on the other.  Atlas showed up on a list of Gülen-affiliated companies in a 2006 cable from the American Consul General in Istanbul, released by WikiLeaks. In Louisiana, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Abramson Science & Technology Charter School in eastern New Orleans is linked to a bribe offer allegedly made by Inci Akpinar — the vice president of Atlas.

Other possible sources of income for the GM movement were revealed in a 2011 report by the Philadelphia Inquirer. They revealed that the FBI is investigating a GM charter school employee kickback scheme, aimed at funding the larger GM movement.

Operators of Gülen-based charter schools stress over and over that their charters hew to state-mandated curriculums. Yet in Inver Grove Heights, MN, a substitute teacher named Amanda Getz claims the Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) maintained no separation between academics studied during school and Islamic studies afterward. She also claims she was instructed to take students in fours to the bathroom for “ritual washing” before lunch on Fridays (the Muslim holy day), after which, “teachers led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap” led the students in Muslim prayers. She further revealed that while religious instruction is not part of the “school day,” most students stay after — perhaps because school buses don’t leave until the Islamic studies are over.

Concerned Americans have begun to push back. In Austin, Texas, a protest rally was organized in August 2011 against the Harmony School of Political Science in that city. Rally organizer Donna Garner cited Fethullah Gülen’s influence in changing Turkey from pro- to anti-American, the link between Cosmos/Harmony/Atlas Construction in Texas and Louisiana’s Pelican schools, as well as concerns regarding how “teachers who can hardly speak English and are fresh from Turkey will present such historically significant elements as the Holocaust, the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.”

In Tennessee last May, Gov. Bill Haslam allowed a bill that limits the number of foreign workers at charter schools to become law without his signature. According to the bill, if a school wants 3.5 percent or more of its staff to be hired from among the foreign workers in the H1B or J-1 visa programs (with an exception for language teachers), it can now be refused a charter to operate by chartering authorities. American Muslim Advisory Council board member Sabina Mohyuddin from Tullahoma, labeled it “an anti-Muslim bill shrouded in anti-immigrant language.”

Last month in Loudoun, VA, applicants behind the proposed Loudoun Math and IT Academy in that city were peppered with questions from residents who were concerned that the proposed charter has ties to the Gülen Movement. Access Point Public Affairs’ Mindy Williams, who serves as the spokeswoman for the charter school applicants, along with School Board Vice Chairman Jill Turgeon and Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Janet Clarke, were met with a great amount of skepticism when they said they believed the school was not tied to Gülen or his movement. “I do think it’s very important that we’re absolutely sure there is no connection,” Clarke said, “but in all fairness, we can’t draw that connection when we don’t know quite yet.”

Perhaps they’re not looking hard enough. At an earlier meeting, it was pointed out that Ali Bicak is one of the founding members of Chesapeake Science Point in Maryland, which has alleged ties to the Gülen Movement and is ostensibly the school after which the Loudoun Math and IT Academy is modeled. Fatih Kandil, listed as an applicant for the Loudoun charter school, is a former principal of Chesapeake Science Point and was the director of the Horizon Science Academy in Ohio, which has also been accused of ties with Gülen. “There’s a trend here I’m hoping you see,” said meeting attendee Rachel Sargent.

Read more at Front Page

Stunner: Turkey Infiltrating Native American Tribes — and May Get Congressional Help

by Marc J. Fink:

Recently, Native American Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK, member of the Chickasaw Nation) introduced H.R. 2362, the Indian Trade and Investment Demonstration Project. The bill singles out Turkish-owned companies for exclusive investment preferences and special rights in Native American tribal area projects.

Congressman Cole freely admitted the following on the House floor:

There’s no question that I was approached by the Turkish American Coalition (properly the Turkish Coalition of America), who have a deep interest in Turkey and American Indians.

“Deep interest” indeed. The bill was the culmination of a multi-year effort by Turkey to ingratiate itself with Native American tribes: tribal students now study in Turkey with full scholarships; Turkish officials regularly appear at Native American economic summits; and dozens of tribal leaders have gone to Turkey on lavish all-expense-paid trips.

Why the intense interest in business and cultural ties with Native American tribes now, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development party (AKP) have taken Turkey down a path of aggressive and dangerous Islamism?

Evidence from Uzbekistan points to a possible motive: infiltration and Islamization. The government of Uzbekistan is claiming that private Turkish business interests in the Central Asian country have been acting as a front for banned Islamist extremists. According to Agence France-Presse:

[The Uzbek government has accused] Turkish companies of creating a shadow economy, using double accounting and propagating nationalistic and extremist ideology. … Long wary of the influence of Islamic fundamentalism … secular authorities appear to be linking Turkish private business to the activities of the Nurcus, an Islamic group that is banned in the country.

Nurcus is also banned in Russia.

Is it in America’s national security interests to have Turkish contractors and their families flooding into America’s heartland and settling in semi-autonomous zones out of the reach of American authorities? Especially if their intent is to form intimate business and social ties with a long-aggrieved minority group?

H.R. 2362 was narrowly defeated on July 23, when a “suspension of the rules” vote (usually reserved for non-controversial votes with limited debate) failed to attain the required two-thirds majority. But troublingly, 220 representatives voted in favor — representing both parties and all ideological strains — with 160 opposed and 49 abstaining.

The bill could come up for a vote again at any time.

In the original version of H.R. 2362, the stated purpose was:

[To] encourage increased levels of commerce and economic investment [with Native American tribes] by private entities incorporated in or emanating from the Republic of Turkey.

It allowed for select Native American tribes to lease land held in trust by the United States:

… [for] a project or activity … in furtherance of a commercial partnership involving one or more private entities incorporated in or emanating from the Republic of Turkey.

When the bill came up for a vote, its backers were forced to offer an amended version. The phrase “or other World Trade Organization (WTO) member nations” was placed after “Republic of Turkey” in the passages above. The amended version still maintains:

[Congress] finds that the public and private sectors in the Republic of Turkey have demonstrated a unique interest in bolstering cultural, political, and economic relationships with Indian tribes and tribal members.

Also: removing “barriers” and encouraging a “more robust relationship” between “Turkish and Indian tribal communities” is “in the interest” of “the United States-Turkey relationship.” The “interest” is not defined.

The bill, in both its forms, severely limits federal oversight of the investment projects, and does not even require the Department of the Interior to approve the leases. The term of the leases could stretch 75 years, effectively tying the hands of future administrations: presidents would come and go, but Turkey would have a semi-permanent foothold in America’s heartland.

The amended version of H.R. 2362 continues to single out Turkey for special treatment, and if passed would serve as an official U.S. government endorsement of Ankara.

In the past, special considerations by the U.S. for Turkey were well-deserved. Hill staffers grew accustomed to doing favors for a secular, pro-Western Ankara that was a key strategic ally to Washington and its allies in the region. But all that changed with the ascension of Erdogan’s AKP party in 2002. A small sampling of recent events:

  • Turkey refused to allow U.S. troops to reach Iraq via Turkish territory in 2003.
  • Turkey refused to back UN sanctions on Iran, meant to halt its nuclear weapons program.
  • Prime Minister Erdogan has said “Iran is our friend,” and “I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization.”
  • Erdogan invited the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite warload Muqtada al-Sadr to Turkey for “political discussions.” Sadr, whose militia is believed to be responsible for the deaths of countless American soldiers in Iraq, stopped in Iran on his way to Turkey.
  • The Turkish government supported a flotilla of ships that violently attempted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, ruled by the terrorist group Hamas. Israel’s blockade was declared legal by the United Nations.
  • Erdogan halted trade with Israel and threatened to invade Cyprus after an American-based company partnered with Israel to begin gas exploration in Cypriot territorial waters, which is adjacent to Israeli gas fields. Turkey then initiated military exercises aimed at threatening both Israel and Cyprus.
  • Erdogan defended Sudanese President Bashir, who faced worldwide condemnation for the genocide in Darfur. Erdogan’s rationale: “A Muslim can never commit genocide. It’s not possible.”
  • According to Middle East expert Barry Rubin, the “AKP has repressed opposition in Turkey, arrested hundreds of critics, bought up 40 percent of the media, and installed its people in the bureaucracy.” Very recently, 326 military officers were convicted of conspiracy to overthrow Erdogan’s Islamist government.

Perhaps most troubling — even if other WTO member nations have the same rights in the amended version of H.R. 2362 — Turkey is poised to infiltrate Native American tribal areas immediately upon passage due to the Islamist country’s intense cultivation of ties with Native American tribes through the Turkish Coalition of America. John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Tribe (Oklahoma), claims:

The Turkish and Native American peoples are beginning to come together under their own momentum to develop broader and deeper economic and cultural ties.

But the “momentum” is coming from only one direction: Turkey, through the TCA. Indeed, according to the Indian Country Today Media Network:

  • In November 2010, the TCA organized and led the first Native American Business Cooperation Trip to Turkey, attracting 20 leaders from 17 Native American tribes. The tribal leaders met with Turkish high officials, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. “The meeting in Turkey marked the tribal leaders’ first significant overseas trade meeting,” reported the Associated Press.
  • In March 2011, the TCA engineered the appearance of the Turkish deputy minister for foreign trade at the Reservation Economic Summit (RES) and American Indian Business Trade Fair in Las Vegas. The Turkish minister was the “first foreign government official to ever deliver remarks” in the event’s history.
  • In February 2012, the Turkish deputy economy minister and the Turkish ambassador to Washington joined the TCA at the RES.
  • Since 2008, the TCA has offered scholarships to Native American students interested in studying abroad in Turkey. The TCA also co-sponsored two Native American conferences at a Turkish university.

Read more at PJMedia

The Islamist Tsunami and Arab Society

by Najat Fawzy AlSaied

Whenever the Muslim Brotherhood are asked if Sharia law will be imposed, the response is that their intention is to build “a democratic and civil state” that guarantees freedom of religion and the right to peaceful protest. But anyone who traces the actions of the Muslim Brotherhood — in Egypt, Tunisia or anywhere else in the Arab world, will see that their intention is to further Islamize their societies, not to create civil alternatives.

When the news came that Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) had been declared Egypt’s President, the immediate concern was about what kind of society the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists would want to create, and how this election would affect society in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world. Would they want to establish a robust civil society or a pious Islamic one, and would it be tolerant and respectful towards women and religious minority rights?

Whenever the Muslim Brotherhood are asked if Sharia law will be imposed, the response is that their intention is to build a “democratic and civil state” that guarantees freedom of religion and the right to peaceful protest, as has been stated by Mursi himself on several occasions. But anyone who traces the actions of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists over the past decades — in Egypt, Tunisia or anywhere else in the Arab world — will see that their intention is to further Islamize their societies, not to create civil alternatives. Before they gained power, their approach was from the bottom up, but now that they have the reins of power; they might instead approach their task from the top down.

If the MB’s intention is to build a democratic and civil state, what explains Tunisian MB mentor Rachid Ghannouchi’s obsessive criticism of Habib Bourguiba, the father of modern Tunisia? If Ghannouchi were scathing toward the corrupt regime of the overthrown Zine El Abedine Ben Ali, that would be understandable; but why against Bourguiba, who was the liberator of women and cultivator of modernism in Tunisia? Ghannouchi always rejects parallels drawn with Khomeini, insisting that he is more like Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and that the Tunisian MB party, known as Ennahda or Rebirth, is closer to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey.

But, unlike the AKP, Ennahda has neither an obvious economic program nor a political program — omissions which suggest that Ennahda will instead pursue a social agenda of rapidly Islamizing Tunisian society, as revealed in Ghannouchi’s writing about the history of women in the Arab world: “Before the emergence of the Islamist movement, woman found herself in an unstable and decaying society whose liberation was purely superficial: nudity, eroticism, leaving the house and the intermingling of the sexes.”

Ghannouchi has also highlighted the importance of “tradition” in art: “Art is linked to the values and traditions of society, and no one should take away freedom of expression through art, as long as it reflects those traditions.” According to these comments Ennahda’s true goal is not, as the title of his party would suggest, a Rebirth or a program of development, but rather the fuller Islamization of society, making it more “traditional;” that is, backward-looking. In mid-June, during Tunisia’s annual spring art fair, Tunisian Islamists threw rocks and petrol bombs at modernist works they deemed offensive to religious sensibilities. One person was killed, hundreds of people were injured and arrested, and riots lasted for two days This is the extremism that Ghannouchi’s “tradition” defends.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, established in 1928 with the aim of Islamizing Egyptian society from the bottom up, saw, under Mubarak’s corrupt regime, a social decay set in that strongly increased the Islamists’ appeal. The Brotherhood, with its battle cry of “Islam is the Solution,” greatly benefitted from this erosion; it was not surprising that they were able to and gain the support of the majority and win elections.

In the short run, the Mubarak Government also benefited – in addition to marginalizing liberals and pro-democracy forces, it could also present the rise of Islamists as an implicit threat to the West as “It is either us or the Islamists” – but eventually, primarily with Mubarak’s insistence that his son, Gamal, succeed him, that strategy failed.

Although Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood claims a likeness to the Turkish AKP, when Erdogan suggested, perhaps ambiguously, that Egypt guarantee a secular state in its new constitution, the MB became angry with him. The MB will campaign against any secular party that seeks to revise Article 2 of Egypt’s constitution, which states that “the principle source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence [Sharia law].” The MB also claims that anyone who challenges Article 2 is somehow facilitating an American and Israeli plot against Egypt.

The main difference between the constitution in Turkey and the one in Egypt is that in Turkey, the constitution was protected historically by the military which defended the secular state against Islamization – until recently it has been undermined by pseudo-judicial persecution – while the Egyptian military has no guiding political or religious principles. The Egyptian military will accept whatever deal allows them to maintain their rule. It matters little to them whether women’s faces are covered or not; whether Christians will enjoy full citizenship or not, or whether liberals are free to express themselves or not – without the restrictions that all Islamists long to impose.

Islamists’ supporters in the Arab revolution should learn from history and particularly from that of the Iranian Revolution, in which the liberals similarly formed an alliance with the Islamists, only to be slaughtered by them afterward. Once the Iranian clerics came to power; they focused on Islamizing society, not on building democracy and striving for social justice – both of which had been promised during the revolution.

Within months of the founding of the Islamic Republic, female government workers were forced to wear head coverings, women were barred from becoming judges, gender segregation laws were promulgated, and the age of marriage for girls was lowered to 13.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Read Najat AlSaied is a Saudi PhD researcher in media and development at University of Westminster in London. She can be reached at: najwasaied@hotmail.com