Friday, April 15, 2016

15-Apr-16: Stand by for a united Islamic assault on terror... and possibly some other things as well

Erdogan addresses Muslim kings and prime ministers yesterday in Istanbul [Image Source]
Almost entirely unreported at this early stage, might it be that the Islamic world has decided, finally, to do something serious to curb terrorism? Perhaps, but in the circumstances (which we're about to describe) it would be wise to suspend judgment for a while. That's because it's not that clear what sort of steps they are planning to take. Or against whom exactly. Or frankly for what purpose.

It stems from a major announcement by Turkey's most powerful politician.

Today, Friday, is the second day of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) 13th Islamic Summit Conference. Held once every three years, the event is hosted this time by Turkey in Istanbul with the attendance of "prime ministers and presidents from over 30 countries".

The OIC, about which we have posted several times in the past [click], was formed in 1969 and is made up of 57 member states. It calls itself "the collective voice of the Muslim world" working to "safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony".

Peace and harmony, let's concede, are in notably short supply these days, and strikingly so in a significant number of the Muslim countries and even at the summit itself (see "OIC conference begins with Iran-Saudi spat"). Indeed Turkey's foreign minister, quoted today by Aljazeera ["Islamic world leaders seek to bridge differences"], reveals that
"the Islamic world is experiencing many disputes within itself. Fratricidal conflict causes great pain. Sectarianism divides the ummah," he told OIC foreign ministers on Tuesday, using the Arabic world for the Muslim community. "Hopefully, this summit will pave the way for healing some wounds." [Aljazeera, April 14, 2016]
Healing wounds? The Russian RT news outlet helps us understand how they are going about that. It reports this morning that terrorism (and not violent extremism, please note) has emerged as a core feature of this OIC summit:
Turkey is trying to unite the Islamic world and lead it in the fight against terror with a new Istanbul-based police force tasked with tackling extremism in the region... Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has accepted his proposal to create a multinational police center based in Istanbul to battle international terrorism. The new structure is to be called the OIC Center for Police Cooperation and Coordination... “It would be helpful to establish a structure among member states that will strengthen and institutionalize cooperation against terror and other crimes,” he said, during a speech... The aim, according to Erdogan, is to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq, Syria and Libya and Boko Haram and Al Shabaab in Africa, as “all these terror organizations oppress and harm all Muslims."
Turkey's Davutoglu and PA's Abbas yesterday at OIC summit.
Probably preparing their attack on terrorists [Image Source]
However, and it's a rather big but, that's not all they want to fight. RT explains that
While the details of the new Islamic anti-terror police force yet to be made public, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is already calling to “liberate all Islamic lands under occupation.”
The Turkish daily Hurriyet expands: 
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has put forth a call to “liberate all Islamic lands under occupation,” while also asking for a common and broader view of Muslims in order to discuss the problems of the Muslim world with maturity. “We need a common stance for the liberation of all the Islamic lands that are under occupation, especially Palestine,” said Davutoğlu April 14, while delivering an opening speech... “The most important indicator which would show the effectiveness of the OIC is protecting Muslim minorities and liberating occupied lands such as Palestine, Karabakh and Crimea,” Davutoğlu said... [explaining that in these places] the Islamic identity is under threat of being demolished... “Despite differences of opinion, we need to maximize political relations and improve bilateral contacts in maturity so we can discuss all problems in the Muslim world,” he said. ["Turkish PM calls for broader view of Muslims", Hurriyet, April 15, 2016]
(In passing, we will mention that the editorial offices of Hurriyet, whose line is considered liberal and secular, were sacked by pro-Erdogan mobs screaming Islamist slogans several times in the past year. Still, they managed to escape the fate of their larger competitor Zaman, Turkey's biggest-circulating newspaper; it was shut down by court order last month and placed under state control. BBC says "no reason was given by the court for the decision", and quotes Davutoglu as cryptically explaining the takeover was "legal, not political".)

We have found relatively few mentions in online news channels today of the two-pronged strategy announced by the Turks. This report ["Muslim countries have agreed to work together to fight terrorism: Turkey President Erdogan"] for instance, from a respected Mumbai-based news service seems to have been written by someone who was out of the room when Palestine came up. The same with yesterday morning's Reuters despatch ["Muslim nations agree to work closely to fight terrorism: Turkey's Erdogan"] The Gulf News editors saw fit [here] to report how Erdogan "noted that the majority of the victims of terrorism are Muslims and called it a “source of shame” that most of those who risk their lives at sea to reach Europe are Muslims." But didn't mention the Palestine angle either.

Perhaps we'll be seeing some more-comprehensive news reporting later today. But it seems an odd dropping of the ball.

Being opposed to terror is one of those abstractions that tend to have more to do with prevailing cultural values than with the plain meaning of the words. Sometimes, too, the results of attitude polls into such matters as how people feel about terror and human bomb attacks just don't make sense without drilling down into how they understand some of the basic words.

To illustrate, this might be a good time to review how "terror" seems to mean radically different things at different times and in different contexts. For instance, "03-Nov-15: What do they mean when the Palestinian Arabs say they oppose terror?" And for a specifically-Turkish context, "6-Jun-10: It's not that complicated: Is IHH a humanitarian group or a terrorist group?"

Finally a reminder of how the juxtaposition of the words victimterror and Israel tends to make some people loses their moral compass completely: "03-Mar-16: When the UN responds to terrorism, which victims does it entirely ignore?"

1 comment:

rlandes said...

when people's moral compass passes over Israel, it tends to spin wildly.