Wednesday, January 14, 2015

14-Jan-15: A reminder that hateful conspiracy theories are not only found in dark corners

The mayor of Turkey's capital city: Dangerous and offensive
conspiratorial views that ought to be more widely recognized [Image Source]
It's too easy for Westerners to skim an article mentioning a man called Melih Gökçek and to ignore what it says.

But for those prepared to drill down a little and to try to understand the non-English-language viewpoints on offer in the world of ideas, what he has been saying is worthy of urgent attention.

The man in the photo on the right is a Turkish lawyer and journalist who been mayor of Turkey's capital city Ankara (population: 4.6 million) for more than two decades, having won municipal elections in 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. For the three years before that term began, he was an elected member of the Turkish parliament. Politically, he is aligned with Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP, which "developed from the tradition of Islamism, but has officially abandoned this ideology in favour of "conservative democracy"" [Wikipedia]. That's the political home (and creation) of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey's former prime minister and current president, Gökçek has more than two million Twitter followers.

Plainly no fool and by no means an underachiever, the signs are he is a man of considerable malevolence. Consider this for instance:
In early July 2014 Gökçek supported the antisemitic tweet made by Turkish singer Yıldız Tilbe: "God bless Hitler, it was even too few what he did to the Jews, he was right" and "The Jews will be destroyed by Muslims, in the name of Allah, not much time left for it be done". [Wikipedia]
He has our attention today because of something new:
Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek has alleged that last week's deadly attacks on a French satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris that left 17 people dead are the result of France expressing support for Palestine, and that Israeli intelligence is behind the attacks, the semi-official Anadolu news agency reported.
According to a report from Anadolu circulating in the Turkish media, Gökçek attended the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Gölbaşı youth branch fourth ordinary district congress on Sunday and mentioned the terrorist attacks in France. He said Israel was annoyed with the lower house of French parliament for voting for the recognition of a Palestinian state and with France's vote in favor of a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for the same recognition.
“Israel certainly doesn't want this sentiment to expand in Europe. That's why it is certain that Mossad is behind these kinds of incidents. Mossad enflames Islamophobia by causing such incidents,” Gökçek said.
He claimed that after the Paris attacks, around 50 mosques and some Muslim individuals had been targeted but such incidents were not reported on by the international media. “Palestine being recognized as a state is why these [attacks] have taken place,” he concluded. [Today's Zaman, a major Turkish newspaper, January 12, 2015]
ANZAC legend, Simpson and his donkey: A special
place in Australian affections and history
[Image Source]
For blog readers in Australia, keep this dangerous rabble-rouser's words in mind as the centenary commemoration of Australia's baptism under fire at Gallipoli gets closer:
In memory of the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I, on the occasion of which Australians and Turks first met, fighting on opposing sides, Turkey and Australia are preparing to jointly celebrate, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of this encounter, the year 2015 as a year of culture. “Cultural, academic, musical, artistic and sporting events in both countries are being organized,” Ian Biggs, Australian ambassador to Ankara, told Today's Zaman in an exclusive interview. In the years following World War I, the two countries established closer relations. Around 150,000 Turks now live in Australia, having migrated there in search of a better life. Every year, thousands of Australians come to Çanakkale (Gallipoli) to commemorate their ancestors who fought there on April 25, the day the Allied forces landed in Gallipoli in 1915. This year, around 8,000 Australians arrived in Çanakkale for the ceremonies, including Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. [Today's Zaman, August 23, 2012]
This coming Anzac Day, April 25, "probably Australia's most important national occasion", is certain to see an even larger Australian presence than previous years' at the centennial commemoration in Turkey. It's still some months off, which means there's time to ensure no invitation reaches the hands of the hateful Mr Gökçek. Or for him to issue a public retraction.

No comments: