Labour Party (EMEP)

Turkey and Islamic terrorism in Paris

The attack on Charlie Hebdo and the murder of 12 caricaturists shook the whole of Europe – starting with France – and had a powerful affect on Europe’s link to the Middle East, Turkey, the ‘Muslim country’.

The European states moved quickly to take ‘prohibitive measures’ to limit freedoms, especially of Muslim citizens with ‘foreign roots’. Turkey, where political Islam is in power, reacted by defending itself and Islam.

Unsettled by the prospect of criticism due to its support for Islamic terrorist groups, Turkey condemned the attack on Charlie Hebdo; “Terror has no religion or nationality”, “Turkey is against all forms of terrorism”! It was as if the terrorists had targeted Turkey itself; it argued that this was “an operation targeting the Islamic world through Turkey”, that “this is an attempt to associate Turkey with terrorism and hold it responsible” but terror “cannot be associated with Islam” or Turkey.

Within a few days, the Hebdo attack was completely forgotten and an offensive to clear Islam had started; the references to Islamophobia and attacks in Europe on sacred Muslim places such as mosques followed.

Al-Qaida... IS... Boko Haram

However, the Kouachi brothers* had stated that they staged the attacks in the name of the ‘Yemeni Al-Qaida’. There were attempts to nullify this statement by saying that “this isn’t the real Islam”, “Islam is a religion of love and peace”; but there was no escaping reality.

* Apparently they said they were the authors of the assault on Charlie Hebdo.

Amedy Coulibaly, who had attacked the Jewish market, had also stated that he was linked with IS and there was a video recording to prove it.

Furthermore, Al-Qaida, IS (Islamic State) and Boko Haram based all their murders and massacres and their own existence on Islam; in stating that others do not represent Islam – just like Erdogan and other prominent Muslims – they claim to be the ‘real Muslims ‘. There was an ‘inter-Islamic ‘ debate between Erdogan and for example the Mufti of Paris and terrorist organisations such as IS; certain Islamic circles and their spokespersons were in disagreement about which was the true Islam. Furthermore, there was no ‘higher knowledge ‘or ‘decree ‘ to decide which sector organisation was right; Iran had the Shiite Sharia* ‘guide’ Ali Khamanei, Sunni Islamic State had the ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Wahhabi Saudi Arabia had King Salman – following the deceased Abdullah – and Al-Qaida had Ayman Al-Zawahiri! Furthermore, the Sunni Al-Azhar was a ‘sacred heart’ in Egypt.

* Muslim Law

In Turkey, following the ‘cracks in the government’ and the elimination of Fethullah Gulen – a Turkish Muslim cleric who lives in the US, who was once Erdogan’s ally and is now his arch enemy- the religious leadership lied with the Director of Religious Affairs and his puppet-master, the real Caliph – Sultan Erdogan. No one was in a position to impose their decree or judge one another. It was known that the inter-Islamic wars and conflicts of more than a thousand years were caused by the question of which ‘path/interpretation/ word is superior’ and which is the ‘real Islam ‘; the answer eluded people even after the attempted impositions and wars.

Who is to say that Al-Qaida does not have an Islamic perception, attitude and practice? It could be criticised and even blamed but its Muslim origin and the association between its activity based on the concept of jihad – also covered in the Qur’an – and Islam cannot be denied.

However, just because someone says that IS ‘is not Muslim’ does not make it non-Muslim. As the name suggests it is an ‘Islamic State’; one might not like it, or one could be at war with it but one cannot claim a complete disassociation with Islam. Without argument, they are both ‘Islamic terrorist organisations’.

Both IS and Al-Qaida effect politics through Islam. Politics in the name of Islam should not surprise anyone; it has been a political religion from the beginning; it always adopted an attitude of resolving world issues and ruling the world – hence the name Sharia – and it has been an expression of the unity of religion and governance. Islam has always been overly involved with politics. Islam as a belief and Islam as a definitive world order are different. Both IS and Al-Qaida, just like the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkish Muslim Brotherhood and its organisation AKP, are involved in religious politics; within the realm of political Islam.

The only difference is that a number of Islamic sects and cults and especially Sunni Islam, supported for a while now by the US, have been subjected to another division: ‘radical’ or ‘fundamentalist’ Islam and ‘moderate’ Islam! This division has been created through compliance or not of political Islam with imperialist capitalism – with the US at the helm as its ‘lead performer’ – and an outlook and actions that see the world from the perspective of capitalist interests that Islam is subservient to or mainly from a perspective of ‘Allah and Islam’. Of course, as in all social phenomena and events, it is hard to argue how ‘radical’ and ‘moderate’ Islam differ or can be clearly and distinctly differentiated from each other.

Primarily, in the age of capitalism which also is the age of proletarian revolutions, leaving aside objective social contradictions that are expressions of the irreconcilable contradiction that capitalism is built upon, it is not possible to create an alternative to capitalism with approaches based on and limited by ethnicity, religious/sectarian or purely ideological beliefs. If you are not on the side of the socialisation of labour and production – in ever deeper contradiction with capitalism – no matter how dissident your tendencies may be, you might be able to stretch but never break free from the framework created by capitalist production relations.

This means that, it does not matter if you are not fully adapted or have protests; your ‘reaction’ leads to a longing for the old, that is, the Middle Ages, and its ideological-cultural forms and due to your beliefs you only feel ‘at ease’ when you get as close to it as you can; you cannot create an ‘oasis’ within the conditions of capitalism. Not because of your inability to create an opposition to the elimination of capitalist relations that you are surrounded by, but because you exist within the framework of those relations. The fabric of your existence is based on commodity-market relations that make up the foundations of the tribes, clans and the international community that you see as your organisation – regardless of the levels of progress – and hence in this situation, even if you have contradictions with capitalist imperialism, you have inevitable ties with it and will never have the opportunity to ‘break them!

Once it had grown fat and as a pre-condition to this, well-versed in the process of neoliberal adjustment – due to the economic, political and undoubtedly ideological conditions preventing Mursi (President of Egypt) from such an alignment – even the Muslim Brotherhood with its rich proliferation tried and failed to reach the necessary level of ‘moderation’ and was made redundant by imperialist capital. Commodity production and exchange (trade) filtered into tribal and clan relations, even in the most deprived areas of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and despite being primitive they are linked to capitalism through their trade relations. It should be expected of the groups based on tribes/clans in these countries, such as IS, Al-Qaida, Al-Nusra* and Boko Haram, despite their negligible differences and together with those from other countries, to have less capacity for ‘alignment/moderation towards capitalism’ and a greater capacity for ‘religious adherence and radicalism’. The lack of their capacity for alignment with capitalism is directly proportional to the lack of development in their capitalism and its basis of commodity production and exchange.

* Terrorist organization allied to Al-Qaida

Yes, IS and Al-Qaida are less moderate ‘radical Islamist’ terrorist organisations; but their pan-Islamism cannot be doubted. They live by Ottoman rules of Mehmet the Conqueror and Suleiman the Magnificent circa 600-700 AD; they build harems, buy and sell slaves, and use beheadings as spiritual punishments. But it is also known that stoning is popular in Saudi Arabia and Iran – as seen in an example last month in Saudi Arabia of a woman who was stoned in public – beheading and cutting of hands, harems and ‘polygamy’ are still in practice, and that slave trade and slave labour was legal in the US as late as the second half of the 19th century.

The ‘reality’ of religion

Addressing the poor and the slaves and claiming an understanding of their suffering, all religions preach that ‘the creator’ wants them to give up their old beliefs (religions) and embrace this new religion in order to be redeemed; that they should be ‘patient’ in the face of the suffering in this world and they are offered ‘redemption’ (heaven) in the other world; and hence this is the aim to be adopted by the poor, who make up the great masses of people in society.

On the other hand, religions came on to the stage of history as the ‘property’ of a very small minority and hence the early prophets and religious leaders, faced with oppression by the rulers and the groups under their control, called on all religions to practice their beliefs in a world of peace.

However in the long or relatively short term, as they spread and become the dominant belief systems, religions were adopted by these rulers and became an effective tool of public governance; despite minimal changes in praying, description of the creator, design of the world and rituals and the sayings about the poor were preserved for appeasement; they adopted forms/attitudes that justify the rule and governance of the rulers. All religions have gone through a similar transition, becoming a tool of domination for the exploiting classes and their politics, a weapon to persuade society to submit to the cruelty of tyrants and, if that fails, sanctifying the use of the sword ‘as the right of the ruler’ to bring into line those who resist. Through this transition, once it becomes the dominant religion, the ‘new’ religion that claimed to be the redeemer of the poor and the defender of freedom of belief gained new attributes; the restriction and ban of beliefs that came before it and naming those who believe in an alternative religion as ‘infidels’ and ‘sinners to be eliminated’.

And in the hands of the ruling classes, religion has become the basis to take over and pillage of other countries, as in the examples of the Crusades and the conquest of Europe by the Ottomans; the destitute, the faithful masses had been dragged onto battlefields in the name of religion, to serve the greed of the rulers to exploit and plunder; people of the same class slaughtered each other ‘in the name of religion’.

Religious violence

Begun underground as the religion of small groups, illegal associations, slaves and the oppressed poor, Christianity, after becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire, became the ‘divine power’ that blessed the rule of Rome over the slaves and other nations; after the collapse of the Romans, it adopted as its own the rule of feudal monarchies and feudalism over the serfs and other oppressed masses and subjected them to feudal oppression as a necessity of Christianity right in the heart of Christian ethics.

Despite what seemed to be religious wars organised by the Popes, Cardinals and priests, with their calls to destitute Christians to redeem their souls by becoming ‘martyrs and veterans in the name of religion’, the Crusades were in reality the fight of the kings with empty safes and wars to ‘plunder the riches of the East by the feudal lords, for whom it seemed as if the earth was slipping from under their feet.

Just as the Inquisition and burning of witches have come and gone, the exploiting systems and classes have changed; as religion took a step backward due to the bourgeois revolutions, Christianity continued to be the most effective and favourite weapon in the exploitation and plunder of the world by capital, colonialism, and the imperialist countries. It continues to serve this purpose both by preaching submission to the working classes and peoples dissenting against oppression and tyranny and by finding a place in the ‘book’ to the tyranny of capital and imperialist exploitation.

Perhaps, some Christians, both then and now, have claimed that ‘this is not Christianity’, but the type of Christianity promoted first by the feudal and then the capitalist system, the Pope and the Cardinals is still prevalent today.

Islam and violence

Despite the significant role played by trade and traders at the beginning of Islam, it has followed a similar line. The difference is, fighting an armed struggle started within a few years in Islam – primarily against the slave owners of Mecca – a religion almost born with a sword in hand.

The fact that first converts to Islam were members of prominent trading families of Mecca, along with slaves, meant that Islam very quickly became the religion of the rulers; Mohammed became the head of the new state as well as the prophet and led the fight against the pagans.

The 2nd Caliph Omar, the 3rd Caliph Osman and the 4th Caliph Ali (3 of the first four Caliphs) were slaughtered; the messengers of bloody changes in leadership.

Later, Muawiyah and his successors were also slaughtered; first the prophet’s grandchildren Hasan and Husayn and all the supporters of Ali, the Umayyad Dynasty was established, and moved the capital from Mecca to the city of Damascus, the crossroads of trade and ancient civilisations.

On the other hand, during the rule of the second Caliph, the Islamic State took the city of Jerusalem, sacred to both Jews and Christians, and in less than 100 years of Islam’s emergence in history its armies reached the borders of China in Central Asia and took the whole of North Africa and half of Spain.

Without a doubt, the bloody armed conquests of those times and the fact that Islamic States took over majority of the lands where Christianity started, are the causes of the fear and resistance defined as Islamophobia.

In Islam, the violence practiced by the state; beheading, strangulation, stoning, lashing, cutting of hands, etc. are based on Sharia and are still implemented in some Middle Eastern countries today. Leaving non-Muslims aside, the legalisation of the ‘Son of the Sultan’ and the strangulation of his siblings during the time of Mehmed the Conqueror was done in the name of the ‘perpetuity of the Ottoman Empire’ and the ‘sublimity of Islam’ with the Sultan as its ‘shadow on earth’! After all, the prophet Mohammed himself, of course ‘in the name of Islam’, went to war/jihad* 25 times during his 10 years of life in Medina.

* Holy War

Therefore, the cries after the Charlie Hebdo attacks that ‘this is not the real Islam’ and the attempts to defend Islam by disassociating it from terror are indeed baseless. One arrives at the same result not only through the history of Islam but also through logic: religion is not a science; hence we can neither say “that religion is right and this one is wrong” or “that religion is not real but this one is”, nor can we say “this is not Islam”. Religion based on faith will be practiced as such and one cannot look for proof in faith. If it were a science, the proof of the ‘right religion’ would be presented, and those that are not real would be labelled ‘non- scientific’ and the problem would be solved!

Today, when the ulema* of the Muslim Brotherhood say “this is not the real Islam” after the violent political massacres and the bombing of places of worship of other religions and sects, the ulema of the IS come up with more proof and say “on the contrary, our practice is the real Islam”. Besides, the ‘spiritual leaders’ of Islamic terrorist groups are known ‘men of cloth’ and most of the religious circles cannot oppose IS and Al-Qaida on the basis of ‘religious texts’. To this day, no Sunni ulema group or religious authority has declared IS or Al-Qaida as ‘un-Islamic’.

* Community of students of Islamic law

There is a religious tradition of 1500 years, and it is clear that those who act through this culture and make it the striking power of their politics cannot disassociate themselves from ‘terror’. Thus the only difference between the logic and ambition of the ruling party and its spokespersons in Turkey and the spokespersons of Al-Qaida and IS is one of ‘style’!

The debate over the ‘real Islam’ and the relationship between IS and Turkey

Why has the 1500 year old argument from antiquity of ‘what is the real Islam?’ and ‘who is the real Muslim?’ re-surfaced after the Paris attacks? Why has it been focused on the representatives of the Turkish-Islamic synthesis of the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood government?

Following the ‘New World Order’, a debate within Islam was put on the agenda, first within the ‘Great’ and later the ‘Broad Middle-East Project’, instigated by the US and with clear imperialist goals. The US imperialists were looking for a footing for themselves within the predominantly Muslim region; those Muslims who listen to and act in line with US interests and strategy, and those that show a tendency to do so, were called ‘moderate Islam’ and brought it into line. ‘The kind of Islam’ it is and should be was clear; ‘moderate Islam’ was determined not by its Islamic roots and debate based on the Qur’an but in accordance with US interests and strategies. Of course they had ideas on the roots of Islam, the Qur’an and the Hadith*, they were would be connected with religion and based their theories on the Qur’an and the prophet; but they were never going to be characterised by anything other than identity with US interests and strategies!

* Anything related to the life of Muhammed

This was the Islam imposed by US interests and strategies and its ‘reality’ could be defined by it. But the US and the West had no interest in the latest debates on the ‘real Islam”; the debaters were Islamists and primarily the Turkish-Islamic synthesisers. This time, the need was their interest and ‘strategic needs’.

The issue? The fact that under the rule of the AKP*, Turkey has long supported IS and its notorious terrorist actions that received widespread support among Islamists, but left a mark in the memory of the world population. Descending from and competing with Al-Qaida, earning a reputation with their recordings of beheadings in Syria and Iraq and forcing women in the territories they swept over to be part of their harems; the terror of IS is so repulsive and any support given to it is so vehemently condemned – especially in Western public opinion – that to be regarded as being on the same ground in the Islamic division as IS is not good for anybody, including Turkey.

* Justice and Development Party

Turkey is internally in denial, by removing the attorneys and passing new laws and through the courts it has managed to prevent a debate on its support, but it is also well aware that it cannot prevent this abroad and that the Western media and intelligence agencies are sharing this information with Western public opinion.

How many MIT [Turkey’s national intelligence service – translator’s note] lorries have been caught and released repeatedly? Despite this, only once has a lorry stopped by the gendarme been searched and recorded by lawyers; a great number of rockets, bombs, etc. were found and the driver’s statement that there were other dispatches across the border was recorded by government agencies.

And the West is aware that the Syrian ‘civil war’ started and spread due mostly to Turkey’s expansionist drive; initially the Free Syrian Army (FSA)* – mainly driven by the Muslim Brotherhood and later by the Al-Nusra front, tied to Al-Qaida – were supported by Jordan and Qatar, but mostly by Turkey; they were provided with quarters on the Turkish borders, they received training, weapons and ammunition and their financial needs were met.

* Reactionary force behind the civil war

IS received its share of this support in two ways. First, the weapons and ammunitions provided to FSA and Al-Nusra were transferred to IS as these groups lost their grip and were absorbed by IS. Second, initially they were supported by the US but gradually it changed its tactics of going further, Turkey saw no harm in supporting IS directly to serve its sectarian policy on Syria; for a long time it refused to name IS as a ‘terrorist organisation’ and continued its open support until the US led the ‘Coalition against IS’.

It was only the Kurdish national movement that could resist the IS regime, which was condemned by the world, the AKP government initially and for a long time supported the IS offensive on the Kurdish canton of Kobani; it tried to eliminate the Kurdish canton states in Rojava, Northern Syria that it called ‘our red line’ by using IS; and furthermore IS gangs have even attacked Kobani from the Turkish side of the border.

The attitude of the AKP government towards IS is still different from that of the West or the US led ‘Coalition against IS’. Turkey takes no part in the military operations as a member of the ‘Coalition’, and it still insists on ‘targeting Assad’ despite the fact that the US apparently abandoned its demands for a ‘solution without Assad’.

Aware of its culpability in an open relationship and support that it shared with IS, trying to guard itself from a counter-attack, it is understandable that Turkey acted with a view to prevent a likely reaction from the West after the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Is AKP’s Turkey against all kinds of terrorism?

Following the Islamist terror in Paris, Erdogan claimed “... terror has no religion or nationality and cannot be justified by any means’’ and that Turkey will “continue its determined fight against all forms of terrorism”.

Aside from a ‘fight against all forms of terrorism1, despite the fact that it blatantly supported IS, Turkey tried to conceal itself by accusing the Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu, and especially the ‘state terror’ inflicted on Gaza by the Israeli state.

How could they join the march, ‘how could they have the nerve to go to Paris?’

There is no doubt that the Zionist leader is a bloody murderer. He is the butcher not only of Gaza but of the whole of Palestine. What is arguable is that Erdogan, having served as Prime Minister for many years and now in charge of the armies of the Republic as President, is probably the last person who can blame Netanyahu for his massacres!

Terrorising its own peoples with boasts of ‘ancestral conquests’ – leaving aside the fascist coups oppressing the population in the history of the Republic – the number of Kurds massacred in Turkey is surely no less than of Palestinians massacred by Israel! If Netanyahu is responsible for the massacres of Palestinians then it is clear who is responsible for the massacre of Kurds in Turkey!

The number of massacred Kurds is said to be in the tens of thousands and the real number must be closer to 100 thousand. And then there are those murdered in the Gezi Resistance and those who are proud to have given the orders for their murder! All the attempts in Turkey to exercise freedom of opinion, to gather or protest are at best met with tear gas, water cannons and plastic bullets. They even have the blood of 12, 13, 14 year olds on their hands.

It is not a correct notion, because without exception every state is an instrument of violence or ‘terror’, they exist for terror and a tautology is not necessary; but if it is a matter of ‘state terror’ then here is the ‘state terror’!

March 2015
Labour Party (EMEP) – Turkey

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