Counter-Terrorism: Turks Rebel Against Their Islamic Politicians


June 17, 2015: A recent opinion poll in Turkey about which countries were most of a threat to Turkey revealed that 42.6 percent of Turks saw Israel as the biggest threat followed by America (35.5 percent) and Syria (22.1 percent). When it comes to Islamic terrorism 85 percent regarded ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) as a terrorist organization but only 65.4 percent believed ISIL was a threat to Turkey while 24 percent believed ISIL was not a threat to Turkey. To Westerners this may seem odd but for over a decade Turks have been exposed to more and more government sponsored anti-U.S., anti-Israel and pro-Islam propaganda. This was part of an deliberate effort to return Turkey to its virtuous Islamic roots and undo nearly a century of efforts to “westernize Turkey”. As a result Turkey has become a growing problem when it comes to dealing with Islamic terrorists. Despite groups like al Qaeda and ISIL considering Turkey an enemy, the Islamic party that has run the Turk government since 2003 has become increasingly paranoid about religion and anyone not Moslem. The Turkish president has been openly accusing the non-Moslem world of making war on Islam. This is the same attitude Islamic terrorists use to justify their attacks on non-Moslem targets. Yet Turkey has remained a member of NATO and taken strong measures to shut down Islamic terrorist groups inside Turkey.

The Islamic politicians running Turkey also alarm a lot of Turks with this pro-Islam talk. Since the 1920s Turkey has kept church and state separate but the current government wants to change that and is gradually doing so. One threat involved a proposal to undo the 1928 law that made the Roman alphabet the standard. This would be done by again teaching the Arabic alphabet in schools and eventually dropping the Roman alphabet completely. This proposal was defeated but the government did make it legal to teach the old Turkish documents using Arabic script in religious schools. In 1928 the adoption of the Roman alphabet linked Turkey more closely, culturally and economically, with the West and those connections are proving difficult to undo. Going back to Arabic alphabet was very unpopular and the government quickly discovered that most Turks opposed this change. In response to this defeat the government added more mandatory religious instruction (Islam only) in schools.

To make matter worse, the Islamic politicians got elected to power on the promise of cleaning up the corruption that was increasingly hurting the economy as well as politics and life in general. For nearly a decade the Islamic politicians did reduce the corruption, but then evidence began to appear that many of the Islamic politicians had themselves had become corrupt in addition to threatening to end the separation of church and state as well. The Islamic government sought to silence those who were openly criticizing bad behavior by pro-Islam politicians. This despite the fact that ISIL considers the current Turkish government un-Islamic and wants to replace it, by force if necessary, and make largely secular Turkey part of the new caliphate. Most Turks oppose ISIL, but most Turks don’t want a civil war over the issue and are trying to settle the matter via with elections. That may or may not work depending on how many Islamic politicians agree to respect the democratic process.

Recent elections saw the AKP Islamic party lose its majority in parliament, mainly because Turks unhappy with the pro-Islamic AKP policies turned to other parties. AKP is still the largest party in parliament with 40 percent of the seats but this was a clear signal to AKP that their policies were unpopular. AKP is apparently still playing by the book but many Turks are still uneasy about the impact this Islamic propaganda has had. For example over a decade of pro-Islam government propaganda has convinced a lot of Turks to adopt Arab fantasies that Israel and the United States are waging war on all Moslems and are responsible for the appearance of ISIL. A government working under assumptions like that are not a useful ally in an effort to deal with Islamic terrorism. It remains to be seen if anything will change in Turkey because of an electoral setback.






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