Sunday, July 07, 2013

Q&A: The Continuing Protests in Turkey | Sheikh Ata’ Abu Rashtah

The protests are still continuing in Turkey, but not with the momentum as the first days of 31/5/2013 in Taksim square in Gazi Garden. People were protesting against the uprooting of the park's trees, executing government plans to transform the barracks to the Ottoman era into a commercial and residential area, so protests ensued the next day not less than 67 cities. The clashes took place between protesters and security forces who wanted to end their protests. Several people were killed and hundreds of protesters and police were injured, and hundreds of protesters were arrested, and arrests are continuing even today in search for the instigators. What are the causes of these protests and who were behind them and what is their aim?
There is something that brings about attention and that is the protesters' laid-back attitude towards President Abdullah Gül and the harsh attitude towards Erdogan. The protesters are more satisfied with Abdullah Gül, more than with Erdogan. Does it mean that America has started to advance Abdullah Gül over Erdogan in the administration of the country's affairs, to absorb the indignation of the protesters? And is that expected in the future?
Answer: To clarify the answer, we present the following points:
1. The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan accused the internal and external forces and international media of inciting these events. He mobilized hundreds of thousands of supporters in Kazlicesme Square in Istanbul on 17/6/2013 in response to the protesters demonstrations as a display of people's support. He attacked the European Union on their position towards the events. He was nervous and worried in his statements, and he was sarcastic and aggressive. He described the protesters as a bunch of miserable and rubbish people. They are under the commands of a lobby which is only concerned about money, and they are a tool exploited in the hands of the foreign powers. Along with other accusations, this amplified the reaction and inflamed anger against him. He conveyed his anger towards everything that has happened and towards the perpetrators. He did not expect this situation to happen, the events were a surprise for him and he was afraid that it would take the same form as the uprisings in the Arab countries. It shook his reputation and the reputation of the secular democratic model which America marketed to the Arab world in his (Erdogan) name.
2. With regards to the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, Bakr Bozdag, he as well called and attacked the protesters and the forces of the political opposition, saying: " The participants in the protests in Gezi Park are the same ones who participated in the 2007 protests and they called on " the army to do its task" which was to carry out a coup. Most of them are members of the People's Party, Peace and Democracy Party and the Labor Party and they use the mask of the left wing. He denied that the protests were a popular movement. He said that behind this are internal and external forces. He wondered how they say that they are against capitalism and in the same time benefit from global capital institutions and works for them. He said that the Alawites were officially addressed for the first time in the era of his government, and their religious manifestation and houses of worship were banned at the time of the Republican People's Party due to the application of the laws of the Revolution (Kemalism). (Radikal Page 21/6/2013) it was stated that the participants in these protests are those who participated in the protests in 2007, but he did not say that they had knowingly planned for this arrangement. His accusation against every opposition party with tendencies towards the left, liberal and socialist is in order to limit the official political opposition and further it from the public character. The Turkish Interior Minister Muamer Guler stated: "There is a will to push people to spill onto the streets through illegal acts, such as stopping work and strike." He also said: "It is impossible to understand the insistence on the continuing demonstrations," (AFP 17/6/2013) after he called for a union gathering, uniting two central major unions for workers and state employees that contain hundreds of thousands of members. He invited them to a general protest in every public place in Turkey to condemn the acts of violence committed by the police against the demonstrators. Therefore the Interior Minister believes that there is a force who wants to continue the events so it can exploit it for certain goals.
3. It appears that the government feared the escalation of events in a serious manner, compelling the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinc to announce: "The police will use all its forces to end the protest, and if that is not enough we may even use Turkish armed forces in the cities." (Reuters 17/6/2013) At the same time, Erdogan threatened the protesters, saying: "Our patience is starting to run out, and I warn you for the last time" (official Turkish television, 13/6/2013) and the Liberties site has reported on 21/6/2013 that the Prime Minister Erdogan has met with the President Abdullah Gül and then met with the head of Turkey's Intelligence Services, Hakan Fidan, and then had an emergency meeting with the Chief of Staff Necdet Ozeln and all those meetings took place on the day of 21/6/2013 discussing the protests in his meetings. This indicates his fear of negative repercussions in the long term if it is not treated once and for all. Three weeks have passed and it has yet to end completely, and there will be a National Security Council gathering on the 25/6/2013 to discuss how to confront the protesters.
4. Despite this, the position of the Turkish President Abdullah Gül was lenient to show his understanding, which brought him support. Abdullah Gül stated, after praising "democracy" and considered it "the greatest wealth for the community", he expressed his regret towards the Taksim events, and said, "it is to the extent of worrying and we all have to be mature so that the protests that have reached alarming level have to subside." It was also stated, "This morning he met with the Prime Minister and other officials in the governments and the state, and discussed how to calm this situation, with a manner fitting for us" (Journal Star 1/6/2012) in this statement he indicates the government and its president. That is he calls the government and its President to demonstrate maturity so they can calm the protesters. After these events, it has been observed that Erdogan is trying to draw closer to the President of the Republic after the aloofness between them during the last period. During his visit to the city of Kayseri in 21/6/2012 where his Party organized a large gathering to renew the support from his people, he praised the people, saying: "Kayseri is the town of my brother Abdullah Gül." It was interpreted that it was an attempt to reconcile with Abdullah Gül, whose statements steered in another direction contrary to Erdogan's statements.
5. As for the Republican People's Party's stance, they have announced that they have nothing to do with the events. The MP of the Republican People's Party Erdal Oxngar confirmed that: "his party does not regulate these protests, rather the Turkish youth are the ones who hold them because they are tired of Erdogan's decisions which infringe on their personal freedom" (Sky News Arabia 4/6/2013). The People's Party did not adopt protests, neither did they lead them, they also prevented raising their flags in fear of being held responsible for the violence, as its officials announced. However, the party worked on exploiting these events in its own favor as an opposition party.
6. The American stance: Jennifer Bsaki, the spokeswoman for the U.S. Secretary of State stated: "That the best way to ensure stability, security and prosperity in Turkey is to support the freedoms of expression, assembly and association that these people used to apparently practice" and she expressed her concern about the people who were injured in the protests (Aljazeera 1/6/2013). The U.S. Ambassador in Turkey, Francis Richardony expressed after his visit to the Party of Justice and Development headquarters in Ankara, saying: "Turkey is a friend and an ally to the U.S., even in times of hardship and in critical situations." He also added: "There is no difference between Turkey's and America's democratic principles". (The Process 20/6/2013). By this, the Americans demonstrated their support for Erdogan with their claim that they support freedom of expression and the formation of associations that desire to express their views. But the American Christian Science Monitor Newspaper commented on the events on 4/6/2013 saying: "Peaceful protests in Turkey against the increasingly authoritarian rule of Erdogan's Islamic-based party are a needed corrective, not a revolution. They show a fearless, tweet-oiled, even leaderless uprising to save democracy". So the U.S. sought a containment of any movement taking place in Turkey, as they did in other coutries across the world, so that they do not lose control of it. Hence they adopt anti-democratic antics, criticizing those who do not abide by it even if they were of their agents, in order to prove their leadership to the world and prevent losing control of the situations by working on containing any opposition. Especially that there are groups and individuals in Turkey, of writers and journalists, who are in favor of the U.S. politics, were supporters of Erdogan, but a while ago they criticized him and described him as a dictator.
7. As for the European stance; all the European nations, without exception, led by Britain and its official news agency BBC (which Erdogan criticized by name), including all the European media, even the local media which has nothing to do with news related to foreign policy, followed these events carefully and took a position that is counter to Erdogan and his government and in favor of the protestors. The European Union announced in Brussels regarding "their deep concern about the use of excessive violence and violent police intervention against the people protesting in a peaceful and ligitimate manner, and they warned Turkey from adopting harsh measures against the peaceful demonstrators" (World Bulletin Turkey 20/6/2013) The Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu criticized the EU's statement saying: "When we receieve it, we will reject it immediately" (same source). On 21/6/2013, Germany summoned the Turkish ambassador, seeking clarifications regarding the repression of Turkish police towards the protestors, this move was a diplomatic expression showing Germany's stance alongside the protestors against the Turkish government. The German PM described this repression as very harsh, hence Turkey reacted to that by summoning the German ambassador. Germany and Holland also opposed the opening of a new chapter in the negotiations regarding Turkey's accession to the EU because of that repression, allowing the conduct of protests in Germany organised by Allawites; this proves that Europe wanted to exploit the events and the Allawites against Turkey because of Turkey's link with the U.S. politics, and to justify its rejection to Turkey's accession to the EU, setting new obstacles its way.
8. The topic of the so-called "Allawites" has appeared, most of whom are involved in leftist or communist or liberal or democratic or Kemalist organisations, as well as the People's Kemali Party which is headed by one of them, i.e. they engage themselves in any anti-Islam movement and take any opportunity to protest against anything related to Islam or the the Ottoman State. They are also standing against naming the third suspension bridge as the Bridge of Sultan Salim I, which the government is working to build over Bosphurous in the pretext that this Sultan had persecuted them when they wanted to go against the Islamic State. President Abdullah Gul noted: "He sensed some sensitivity towards launching the name of Sultan Salim I to the third linking bridge in Istanbul" he also pointed out that "they (i.e. the state) will name some future projects in Turkey by the names of Pil Sultan Abdal and Haji Piktash Wali, who are considered of the leading Alawite sect" (Turkish Ceyhan agency 19/6/2013). By this, he tried to show a lenient attitude towards the protesting movements.
9. Some pointed their fingers at Iran, that it had played a role in fueling the events, hence the state began to search for Iranians accused of taking part in fueling events. There are also Alawites who are anti-Iran, Ozdemir Ozdemir the head of the Alawite Bektashi Turkmen Turkish Movement said: "Iran has stepped up its efforts, especially during the last three years to bring about a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Alawites in Turkey." He considered the Taksim demonstrations as part of the events aimed at achieving this scenario. He also said that "Tehran is implementing the subversive plan across four Alawite associations in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir." (Ceyhan agency 20/6/2013) Erdogan referred to this issue in his speech in Kayseri in front of his supporters, saying: "There is someone who seeks to play a dangerous game on the Alawites." The People's Party plays the main role in moving this dirty game. The president of the People's Party and some members of the parliament belonging to the party are playing the main role in this game. As well as some spots outside of Turkey are taking part in this game dirty. He also stated that "there are those who want to sabotage the solution we reached to settle the events of Gezi Garden, hence they want to continuously ignite the events, and open fire on the police." He addressed the People's Party and leftists that they provoke the situation and follow terrorist and extremist movements, and the outlawed "(Milliyet Turkish Newspaper 21/6/2013). A leftist organizations calling itself the Red Hack / Red Pirates claimed responsibility for sending the tweets on Twitter. Police have investigated the 5 million Tweets. The Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, commented, "social media platforms are used to promote crime and violence, and that deterrent measures will be taken." (UBI 20/6/2013). Iran has an interest in exploiting these events, thus it is in contact with the Alawites, working on containing them; as it is also in contact with other forces, working on attracting them to its side in order to achieve its interests and build up followers and supporters, but this will not reach to it playing the role of the President to drop the Turkish government, neither perform any serious work. Keeping in mind that their relationship with the Turkish government did not deteriorate, the relations between them are still ongoing and are not bad and trade relations between them are strong. Also noting that Turkey and Iran are both hand in hand within the U.S. circle.
10. Criticisms of Erdogan emerged from some of the groups that consider themselves Islamic yet support American policy, and they wrote about Erdogan describing him as conceited and saying that he should heed the advice, meaning the advice of their group, and that he should not deceive himself, and they praised Abdullah Gul saying that he is democratic and humble. And it appears that this group, which is a specific group that is known on the Turkish street as the Fathullah Gulen group, wants to maintain and increase the great interests that it achieved under this government, and its cause does not lie except with that. Two years ago it sought to nominate individuals affiliated or close it to the electoral lists in the June 12, 2011 elections, and when it was unable to succeed; it began to criticize Erdogan's policies, and in fact began to threaten to withdraw its support of the ruling party. Erdogan deposed some of the security officials affiliated with this group, because he did not want this group to penetrate and gain more control of state institutions, which would make him under the group's mercy and be weakened and controlled by it, so he began to clip their wings. This group is not of major political significance, even though it has many members, because it is not a political movement and does not undertake political action, but it does take advantage of political action and its support of parties to achieve its own interests of attaining monetary benefits and increasing its membership and seating the largest number of its members to positions in state institutions. Nevertheless, Erdogan's party won the majority in those elections, with his votes reaching 50%. And when the latest events took place this group and its leaders directly and indirectly expressed criticism of the Prime Minister, as if they were waiting for an opportunity for revenge. Erdogan mentioned to the press during his visit to America last month that his "Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç met with the leader of this group who lives in America in order to eliminate some circles' negative rumors and speculations about the relationship of brotherhood and friendship that is based in the past." (Turkish webnews Aktaal 19 \ 5 \ 2013), and when he was asked the following question: "Mr. Abdullah Gul said that he has lost hope in issuing a new constitution, so have you lost hope in that?" He replied: "I answer frankly that likewise I have lost hope." And he said that "we hope to open the door to discussion on the subject of the presidential system." He attacked the opposition and described it as running away from discussing this subject and he asked, "Why is the opposition running away from this discussion and saying that there will be liquidation?" He said, "If that does not happen then we have the draft constitution and we will resort to Plan C" which means to suffice with the votes from his party and search for some additional votes to complement the quorum, and he said "He needs 330 votes in Parliament to go to national referendum on the constitution but his party has 226 seats in Parliament" and expressed his concern that the members would not vote for that because the voting would be secret. He mentioned that if the needed number of votes was obtained then he would go to three elections in 2014 – local elections and elections for the Presidency of the Republic and a national referendum on the constitution. It appears that America is not very concerned with the amendments to the constitution that deal with the presidential system because it has achieved the control of military leaders that it had dreamed of, along with that fact that the presidency of the republic is in its hand, as well as the government and the head of the government, and it has began to control the judiciary, not to mention the police and state institutions. Therefore, it is not putting its weight behind the new constitution and does not pressure its agents to stand behind it.
11. From all this it is clear that the protests erupted spontaneously and were then exploited by the opposition to Erdogan and those with different political orientations. It does not appear that there was a plan or prior preparations for the protests. There are many who were waiting to ambush Erdogan and for an opportunity to overthrow him and take revenge from him, especially followers of the British camp, as they were harmed by the liquidations and the throwing of many of them in prison. Except that there are individuals of the secular orientation who have the illusion that Erdogan is an Islamist and that he works to return Islam, and they consider his secularism as a kind of hypocrisy that he used to come to power. Especially that those do not understand Islam, and they think that Erdogan's government's legalization of some expressions of religion is proof for their claims, and they do not realize that Erdogan fights the callers to Khilafah and the rule of Islam, and he does not permit religion except to the extent allowed by secularism.
12. And it is doubtful that these protests will evolve into a revolution that will change the regime because the protestors belong to small sectors of a particular orientation. Half of the population supports Erdogan, and it is doubtful that half of the opposition will join the protestors because it does not belong to the left. Instead it is at heads with the left and is considered from the right in relation to the divisions of the democrats. The parties of the leftist opposition did not claim the protests and did not work to conduct them but only worked to exploit them to win votes. The protests remain confined to a small strip and do not exceed that strip. The media, especially the European media and its affiliates, has overblown these protests. The aim of the Europeans in this was to justify their opposition to Turkey being admitted to the European Union and to hamper the process of admission. In addition, the British work to exploit these kinds of movements to undermine Erdogan's position because he worked to liquidate their agents and threw many of them in prison distancing them from the military leadership. Whatever the case is, these events, and the actions of Erdogan and his government concerning these events, shook the reputation of the Turkish secular democratic model that Erdogan had boasted about and worked to market to the Islamic world on America's behalf and to appease America and to blank without the return of Islam to power, for it is has been shown to be a false reputation and that this secular democratic regime is in reality a tyrannical regime that is prepared to oppress the opposition to it. With the knowledge that this regime brutalizes the callers to the return of the Khilafah and the rule of Shariah that carry the Dawah politically and intellectually and do not resort to violence whatsoever, so he throws them in prison and sentences them with severe punishments, more severe than the punishments sentenced to those who carry out violence in the streets and squares. However, the local and international media outlets carry out a blackout policy because it is not in their interest to point it out, and because this is related to Islam so the matter is dealt with two faces, and it does not appear that America has abandoned Erdogan, even if it expressed some criticism, so that any movement could arise, and maintain its influence in the country, rather it has expressed its support for him.
13. However, the idea that America is going to present Abdullah Gul over Erdogan in managing the affairs of the country to absorb the resentment of the protesters, this is incorrect, because Erdogan is carrying out America's interests with power that Gul cannot undertake, even though both of them are agents to America, and it uses both in the situation suitable for it. Likewise America's policy in treating the issue of the protests leans toward firmness more than softness because of "American arrogance", except if the issue becomes completely out of America's hands, and the issue has not reached that point up until now, and therefore Erodogan and Abdullah Gul are still in the proper place for America's interests, at least for the foreseeable future. But as for what can be expected in the future, we will follow the issue and Allah willing if anything new emerges then there will be talks.
We ask Allah Almighty to entitle the right and invalidate falsehood in Turkey, and to give victory to the dawah carriers, and to join the Ummah's hearts with them, so that the Khilafah will rise anew, and return to the land that it had left more than ninety years ago. When this Khilafah rises the influence of the Imperial Kafir will end, and its agents will end with the end of this influence, and "Islamabul" will once again be blessed with the Khilafah, and this is not difficult for Allah.
12 Sha'ban 1434 AH
21/06/2013 CE

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