Democracy reinforced under Turkey’s Erdogan
My column this week in the Arab News speaks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, truly one of the few real Democratic leaders in the Middle East standing up to rising religious extremism from Muslims in the Arab World, Christians in the West and Jews in radical Israel. A referendum he advocated won by a comfortable margin that critics claim is a weak mandate. Although winning by 51 percent may be considered weak among the unDemocratic fanatics and extremists of the Middle East, it’s a solid victory in a true Democracy
By Ray Hanania
My column at the Arab News this week showcases the efforts by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to build a secular Democracy in his country, a country ravaged by religious fanaticism for centuries.
Erdogan was the only person to standup to the Israeli atrocities in the murder of nine civilians aboard the Mavi Marmara ship participating in the peaceful Freedom Flotilla protest. A 10th civilian died later as a result of the Israel military assault on the civilian ship in International waters.
Not even Americans would stand up and defend the American who was murdered, Furkan Doğan, a Turkish American citizen. But Erdogan did not hesitate.
The former Ottoman Empire was once powerful but towards the 19th Century began to decay and collapse. World War I brought the Caliphates of the Ottoman Sultans to an end, dividing Turkey and creating turmoil and change. But a succession of leaders including Mustapha Kamel Ataturk to Erdogan have been waging a societal war to suppress the pressures of rising Islamic extremism and radicalism, and build a Democracy similar to those in the West.
Erdogan’s history is a story of a typical activist who rose in the wake of rising religious fervor but quickly adjusted to a more secular political life.
Erdogan, truly one of the few real Democratic leaders in the Middle East standing up to rising religious extremism from Muslims in the Arab World, Christians in the West and Jews in radical Israel.
A referendum he advocated won by a comfortable margin that critics claim is a weak mandate.
Although winning by 51 percent may be considered weak among the unDemocratic fanatics and extremists of the Middle East, it’s a solid victory in a true Democracy.
Under Erdogan, Turkey can grow to become a major player in the Middle East, holding back the religious fanaticism that has corrupted Iran, Iraq and Syria, and preventing its spread to the moderate heart of the Middle East.
You can click here to read the column, published Tuesday April 18, 2017 in the Arab News Newspaper, the leading English language newspaper in the Middle East.
Despite his faults, Erdogan is one of the most moderate Muslim leaders in the Middle East. He has the courage to stand up to Israel’s atrocities against civilians. In fact, Erdogan is more courageous than many Americans.
In 2010 Israel attack against the civilian peaceful protest ship the Mavi Marmara, Israel murdered 9 civilians including a Turkish American aboard the Freedom Flotilla to help the besieged civilians of the Gaza Strip. Not even one American official would standup to Israel’s murder of the American in another shameful display of how American politicians are under Israel’s political lobby thumb.
Israel bullies American politicians to not speak out when Americans are murdered by Israeli soldiers. The murder of Americans is often buried under pro-Israel propaganda, ridiculous attacks involving “Holocaust denial” and accusations of “anti-Semitism.”
Even sites like WIkipedia has been overrun by pro-Israel fanatics who twist and distort the truth to protect Israel.
The Israeli raid that Erdogan denounced resulted in the deaths of ten activists. Nine were killed during the raid: Cengiz Akyüz (42), Ali Haydar Bengi (39), İbrahim Bilgen (61), Furkan Doğan (18), Cevdet Kılıçlar (38), Cengiz Songür (47), Çetin Topçuoğlu (54), Fahri Yaldız (43), and Necdet Yıldırım (32). The tenth to die, Ugur Süleyman Söylemez, (51), died 23 May 2014, in hospital, after having been in a coma for four years.
Most Americans who claim to stand up for the rights of Americans don’t even know the name of the American whom Israel murdered in the military assault ont he Mavi Marmara ship during the 2010 Freedom Flotilla to help the people of the besieged Gaza Strip.
His name is Furkan Doğan and he was a Turkish American who was residing in Turkey permanently. He was the youngest person killed by the IDF on the MV Mavi Marmara, in the Gaza flotilla raid and became a political symbol after his death.
Erdogan knew his name, and the names of 9 others who were Turkish citizens.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)