RECOMMENDED READING: “Islamization of Istanbul Continues”


A Middle Eastern news portal has published a report titled “Islamization of Istanbul Continues” that looks at what is calls the  “religious and political battles embedded” in the ongoing Turkish protests which started over construction at a small park in Istanbul. The Al-Monitor report begins:

May 29, 2013, was the 560th anniversary of Istanbul’s conquest. One of Al-Monitor’s contributors, Kadri Gursel, tweeted, ‘If you were a real Istanbulian, you would not be celebrating the city’s conquest.’ While his tweet generated polarized reactions from all political fronts, another diplomatic pundit told Al-Monitor, ‘The Islamization of Istanbul is not yet complete, a la neo-Ottoman style.’ 

On Conquest Day, there were two other battles in this ever-growing city. The first was the beginning of the construction of the third bridge over the Bosporus. Second, a small recreational area, Gezi Park in Taksim district, was scheduled to be demolished to build a shopping strip. Both of these events may seem rather normal and not political to the unsuspecting eye, but not in Istanbul. Both of these ‘modernization’ projects of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have several religious and political battles embedded in them.

The third bridge has long been a contentious issue. Although everyone agrees Istanbul needs a better transportation system, there are multiple concerns about the cost-benefit analysis of how this third bridge was designed. The focus of this piece, however, is not about city planning details.

Going with the neo-Ottoman spirit, the bridge construction started on the anniversary of the conquest, and it was named after an Ottoman Sultan, Yavuz Sultan Selim or Selim the Grim, as he is mostly known in the West. As Al-Monitor contributor Tulin Daloglu explains in a piece dated Dec. 27, 2012, Selim the Grim is not a ‘favorite’ sultan for Turkish Alevis. Hence, when Turkish President Abdullah Gul, announced the name of the new bridge, it created an uproar among some Turks. Those daring to openly criticize the government argued that it was offensive to use the name Selim the Grim for this bridge because Sultan Selim was known for the massacres of Alevis during his reign. Needless to say, many pro-AKP supporters promptly outlawed such a narrative and blamed ‘these foreign agents’ for not knowing Ottoman history adequately. While Turkish Alevis claimed that this is offensive, many of the pro-AKP pundits were confident the name was a felicitous choice.  “

Read the rest here.

In January 2011, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) published a report authored by the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch Editor and titled “Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla.” The report abstract states:

There is strong evidence for Turkish governmental involvement in the Gaza flotilla incident, with Turkish government support channeled through the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network. Since 2006, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The IHH was not acting alone but rather was an integral part of a Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network.

With respect to the Global Muslim Brotherhood, report’s second conclusion states:

The Gaza flotilla incident brought into sharp focus an even more significant long- term development: the growing relationship between the Erdogan government and the Global Muslim Brotherhood, which has given rise to some of the most notorious Islamist terrorist groups – from al-Qaeda to Hamas. Since 2006, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood, while the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip acted as the main axis for this activity

Read the rest here.

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