— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for March, 2016

Erdoğan vs Gülen: Behind Turkey’s Media Crackdown

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‘As the government tightens its grip on the critical press, we explore the issues behind Turkey’s media takeover and the future of journalism in Turkey. Published on Mar 14, 2016’.

As I wrote some days ago: “The day prior to the government takeover, the daily Today’s Zaman issued a statement expressing concern over “Turkey’s democratic performance” and urging a “return to democracy and the rule of law.” These sentiments may very well have been disingenuous or true-and-heartfelt, but they nevertheless appear to have come just a little too late. One could argue that Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP would never have never reached their current lofty status without the Gülen Movement’s willing help and cooperation . . . As put by Şeyma Gelen, a headscarfed feminist and researcher at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, “[n]ot everyone [in Turkey] is concerned with issues concerning freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the status of women or the concentration of power.” Both Islamist factions were happy to cooperate in previous years, and now that the happy union of yesteryear is no more, the AKP is consolidating its firm grip over the country, while its supporters welcome such actions as appropriate measures that safeguard the country and its traditions . . . or rather its one tradition of authoritarianism that has now seen its full culmination in the figure of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the one and only politician to have successfully [re-]introduced Islam into the body politic of Turkey”.[1]

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[1] C. Erimtan, “Islamic Authoritarianism and Freedom of the Press in Turkey” NEO (12 March 2016). http://journal-neo.org/2016/03/12/islamic-authoritarianism-and-freedom-of-the-press-in-turkey/.

ISIS Timeline, 2004-2016

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The CNN website provides this handy timeline of the development of the Islamic State.[1]

2004 – Abu Musab al-Zarqawi establishes al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

2006 – Under al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda in Iraq tries to ignite a sectarian war against the majority Shia community.

June 7, 2006 – Al-Zarqawi is killed in a U.S. strike. Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, takes his place as leader of AQI.

October 2006 – AQI leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri announces the creation of Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), and establishes Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as its leader.

April 2010 – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi becomes leader of ISI after Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri are killed in a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation.

April 2013 – ISI declares its absorption of an al Qaeda-backed militant group in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front. Al-Baghdadi says that his group will now be known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Al-Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani rejects ISIS’s attempt to merge with the group.

February 3, 2014 – Al Qaeda renounces ties to ISIS after months of infighting between al-Nusra Front and ISIS.

May 2014 – ISIS kidnaps more than 140 Kurdish schoolboys in Syria, forcing them to take lessons in radical Islamic theology, according to London-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

June 9-10, 2014 – Monday night into Tuesday, militants seize Mosul’s airport, its TV stations and the governor’s office. ISIS frees up to 1,000 prisoners.

June 10-11, 2014 – ISIS takes control of Mosul and Tikrit.

June 20, 2014 – The United Nations announces that more than one million Iraqis have been displaced.

June 21, 2014 – ISIS takes control of Al-Qaim, a town on the border with Syria, as well as three other Iraqi towns.

June 28, 2014 – Iraqi Kurdistan restricts border crossings into the region for refugees.

June 29, 2014 – ISIS announces the creation of a caliphate (Islamic state) that erases all state borders, making al-Baghdadi the self-declared authority over the world’s estimated 1.5 billion Muslims. The group also announces a name change to the Islamic State (IS).

June 30, 2014 – The United Nations announces that an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have been forced from their homes.

June 30, 2014 – The Pentagon announces the United States is sending an additional 300 troops to Iraq, bringing the total U.S. forces in Iraq to nearly 800. Troops and military advisers are sent to Iraq to support Iraqi security forces and help protect the U.S. Embassy and the airport in Baghdad.

July 2014 – ISIS takes control of Syria’s largest oilfield and seizes a gas field in the Homs Province, storming the facility and killing dozens of workers. Militants conquer a 90-mile stretch of Syrian towns, from Deir Ezzor to the Iraq border. In Mosul, they blow up Jonah’s tomb, a holy site dating back to the 8th century B.C.

August 6, 2014 – ISIS fighters attack the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, home of a religious minority group called the Yazidis. A Yazidi lawmaker says that 500 men have been killed, 70 children have died of thirst and women are being sold into slavery. More than 30,000 families are stranded in the Sinjar Mountains.

August 8, 2014 – Two U.S. F/A-18 jet fighters bomb ISIS artillery units in Iraq. President Barack Obama has authorized “targeted airstrikes” if needed to protect U.S. personnel from fighters with ISIS. The U.S. military also could use airstrikes to prevent what officials warn could be a genocide of minority groups by the ISIS fighters.

August 19, 2014 – In a video posted on YouTube, U.S. journalist James Foley, missing in Syria since 2012, is decapitated by ISIS militants. The militants then threaten the life of another captured U.S. journalist, believed to be Steven Sotloff.

September 2, 2014 – ISIS releases a video showing the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff. Sotloff’s apparent executioner speaks in the same British accent as the man who purportedly killed Foley.

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September 11, 2014 – The CIA announces that the number of people fighting for ISIS may be more than three times the previous estimates.

September 13, 2014 – ISIS militants post video on a website associated with the group, showing the apparent execution of British aid worker David Haines. This makes him the third Western captive to be killed by the Islamist extremist group in a single month. At the end of the video, another British captive, Alan Henning, is shown and apparently threatened.

September 23, 2014 – The United States carries out airstrikes against ISIS.

October 3, 2014 – ISIS releases a video showing the apparent beheading of hostage Alan Henning. In the same video, the group threatens the life of American aid worker Peter Kassig, also known as Abdul-Rahman Kassig.

November 3, 2014 – The Iraqi government announces ISIS militants have killed 322 members of the Albu Minr tribe in a recent series of executions.

November 14, 2014 – The U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria concludes that ISIS has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

November 16, 2014 – ISIS militants claim to have beheaded American hostage Peter Kassig in a video published to the Internet. Peter Kassig, also known as Abdul-Rahman Kassig, is the fifth Westerner whom ISIS claims to have beheaded via video messages.

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 January 17, 2015 – According to an Iraqi Kurdistan official, ISIS has released about 250 Yazidis. Many are children and the elderly.

January 20, 2015 – ISIS demands $200 million from Japan in exchange for the lives of two Japanese hostages, Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa.

January 22, 2015 – U.S. diplomatic officials say that coalition airstrikes have killed an estimated 6,000 ISIS fighters to date, including half of the top command of the terror group. U.S. intelligence officials estimate that ISIS still has 9,000 to 18,000 fighters and thousands of sympathizers.

January 24, 2015 – An ISIS supporter posts an online video of hostage Kenji Goto, holding a photo of beheaded hostage Haruna Yukawa. The video includes a demand for the release of terror suspect Sajida al-Rishawi, from Jordan, in exchange for Kenji Goto.

January 31, 2015 – ISIS releases a video online showing the decapitated body of journalist Kenji Goto.

February 3, 2015 – Video and still images posted online by ISIS supporters apparently show Jordanian military pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh being burned alive while confined in a cage.

February 5, 2015 – Jordanian fighter jets carry out airstrikes over Syria, reportedly hitting ISIS training centers and arms and ammunition depots in ISIS’s de facto capital, Raqqa.

February 6, 2015 – In an online post, ISIS claims that Jordanian airstrikes killed American hostage Kayla Jean Mueller. The post contains a picture of a collapsed building, which ISIS claims Mueller was buried beneath. There is no proof of her death.

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February 10, 2015 – Kayla Jean Mueller’s family announces she is dead, after receiving confirmation from ISIS, including a photo of her wrapped in a burial shroud.

February 11, 2015 – U.S. President Barack Obama asks Congress to formally authorize use of military force against ISIS.

February 15, 2015 – In an ISIS video, militants appear to behead 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach. On February 16, Egyptian warplanes stage airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya in retaliation.

February 20, 2015 – Three simultaneous suicide car bomb blasts kill at least 30 and injure more than 40 in Gobba, Libya. Wilayat al-Barqa, the Libyan branch of ISIS, claims responsibility for the explosions.

February 22, 2015 – ISIS releases a video that appears to show at least 21 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in cages paraded down Iraqi streets. The last scene of the video shows them alive.

February 26, 2015 – Jihadi John, the disguised man with a British accent who appears in ISIS videos as the executioner of Western hostages, is identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born Londoner. On the same day, ISIS releases a video of its fighters destroying antiquities at the Mosul Museum.

March 1, 2015 – ISIS releases 19 Christian prisoners from a group of 220 Assyrians captured in northern Syria.

March 4, 2015 – ISIS releases images of a man being thrown off a building in Raqqa, Syria. This is one in at least half a dozen cases in which ISIS has killed a man for allegedly being homosexual.

March 7, 2015 – In an audio message purportedly from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, the Nigeria-based radical Islamic group pledges allegiance to ISIS.

March 12, 2015 – In an audio message, a speaker identified as an ISIS spokesman claims the caliphate has expanded to western Africa and that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has accepted Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance. On the same day, Iraqi forces retake most of Tikrit from ISIS, and ISIS blows up the Iraqi army headquarters north of Ramadi, killing at least 40 Iraqi soldiers.

April 8, 2015 – According to Iraqi Kurdistan officials, ISIS releases more than 200 Yazidi women and children, as well as the ill or elderly.

April 19, 2015 – The terror network’s media arm releases a video of ISIS operatives beheading two groups of prisoners, including 30 Ethiopian citizens, at different locations in Libya.

May 16, 2015 – A U.S. Special Operations raid in Syria results in the killing of a key ISIS figure and the capture of his wife. U.S. officials say the raid yields significant intelligence on ISIS’s structure and communications.

May 17, 2015 – ISIS seizes control of Ramadi, the largest city in western Iraq, after government security forces pull out of a military base.

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May 21, 2015 – ISIS takes control of Palmyra, a 2,000-year old city in the Syrian desert. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, it was the last Syria-Iraq border crossing under control of Syrian troops.

June 1, 2015 – During a speech, Gen. Hawk Carlisle describes how the U.S. military uses social media as a tool to track militants. Carlisle says that an ISIS member posted a “selfie” on social media, revealing a command post. Within 22 hours, the U.S. military was able to identify the target and perform airstrikes, destroying the compound.

June 14, 2015 – A British teen, Talha Asmal, is reportedly one of four ISIS suicide bombers who attack the headquarters of a Shia militia group in Iraq, killing at least 11. Before the bombing, ISIS posted photos of Asmal, 17, posing next to their black flag on social media. According to the BBC, Asmal left England in March to join the Islamic fundamentalists.

June 19, 2015 – The State Department issues its annual terrorism report, declaring that ISIS is becoming a greater threat than al Qaeda. The frequency and savagery of ISIS attacks are alarming, according to the report.

June 24, 2015 – The Syrian government reports that ISIS militants have destroyed two Muslim holy sites in Palmyra. The group attacked a 500-year-old shrine and a tomb where a descendent of the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin was reportedly buried.

June 26, 2015 – A gunman kills at least 38 people at a beachfront Tunisian hotel, and a bomb kills at least 27 people at a mosque in Kuwait. ISIS claims responsibility for the attacks.

July 1, 2015 – ISIS launches simultaneous attacks on five Egyptian military checkpoints, reportedly killing 17 Egyptian soldiers and injuring 30 others. According to the Egyptian military, 100 terrorists are killed in the fighting.

July 4, 2015 – The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports it has received a video showing ISIS militants executing 25 captives in the Syrian city of Palmyra.

July 17, 2015 – As Iraqi civilians celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of the fast for Ramadan, ISIS detonates an ice truck in a crowded marketplace in Khan Bani Saad, killing at least 120 people and wounding at least 160 more.

July 2015 – According to IHS Jane’s, the territory controlled by ISIS saw a 9.4% reduction in the first six months of 2015, and is now approximately 32,000 square miles.

August 2015 – ISIS destroys antiquities in the historic city of Palmyra in Syria, including the nearly 2,000-year-old Temple of Baalshami. UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural organization, calls the destruction of the temple a “war crime.”

November 12, 2015 – The Pentagon announces that a remote control drone strike targeting Islamist militant Mohammed Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John,” struck a vehicle that Emwazi was seen getting into. The strike took place in Raqqa, Syria, the defacto ISIS capital. ISIS later confirms the death of “Jihadi John.”

November 12, 2015 – Two suicide bombs hit the Bourj al-Barajneh district of southern Beirut, killing over 40 people and wounding hundreds. ISIS claims responsibility for the attack stating that the attackers had arrived in Lebanon from Syria two days before.

November 13, 2015 – After a two-day battle, the Peshmerga Iraqi Kurdish military force declares victory in liberating the Iraqi town of Sinjar from ISIS. The battle was backed by the U.S. coalition air power.

November 13, 2015 – Three teams of gun-wielding ISIS suicide bombers hit six locations around Paris, killing at least 129 people and wounding hundreds.

December 10, 2015 – A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition comfirms that ISIS Finance Minister Abu Saleh was killed in an airstrike in late November in Iraq.

December 28, 2015 – Iraqi troops retake the city of Ramadi from ISIS and raise the Iraqi flag on top of the government compound in the city’s center, according to an Iraqi military spokesman.

January 24, 2016 – ISIS releases a video that purports to show final messages from the Paris attackers.

February 21, 2016 – Multiple attacks in Homs and southern Damascus kill at least 122 and injure scores, according to Syria’s state-run SANA news agency. ISIS claims responsibility for the attacks.

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[1] “ISIS Fast Facts” CNN (27 Feb 2016). http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/08/world/isis-fast-facts/.

Another Ankara Blast: Sunday, 13 March 2016

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 “A blast caused by a suicide car bombing hit the center of Ankara on Sunday evening. The explosion resulted in over a hundred casualties. At least 34 people were killed and 125 injured in the explosion, according to the Turkish health ministry, as cited by Sputnik news agency. “It’s a car bomb, [it happened] in the heart of Ankara. . . and today is Sunday, many people may be outside,” Turkish journalist Onur Burcak Belli told RT by phone, adding that the scene of the blast is “very close to a shopping mall” and that “many cars are on fire and apparently a public bus is also on fire. I was nearby when I heard the explosion, and there were casualties all around. . . the numbers of dead are increasing,” an eyewitness told RT by phone, adding that “the explosion was actually bigger than the last one in Ankara.”.[1]

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“No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. A security official said that initial findings suggest the attack was carried out by Kurdish PKK fighters or a group affiliated with them, Reuters reported”.[2]

The following day: “Turkish warplanes bombed camps belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the north of Iraq early on Monday [, 14 March], Turkey’s army has confirmed. The strikes come less than 24 hours after a car bomb in Ankara killed at least 37 people. A total of 11 fighter jets were involved in the bombardment of the PKK positions. Eighteen targets were hit, including ammunition depots and shelters, the Turkish military said in a statement, as cited by Reuters. Turkey believes the PKK is a terrorist organization and Ankara has blamed the Kurdish separatist group for a number of recent terrorist attacks in the country, including Sunday’s car bomb at a transport hub in the Turkish capital, which killed at least 37 people and injured dozens more”.[3] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (aka the Prez) said he would bring terrorism “to its knees,” and that the Turkish state would “never give up using its right of self-defense . . . All of our security forces, with its soldiers, police and village guards, have been conducting a determined struggle against terror organizations at the cost of their lives,” Erdogan said in a written statement, as cited by the Hurriyet Daily News. “These attacks, which threaten our country’s integrity and our nation’s unity and solidarity, do not weaken our resolve in fighting terrorism but bolster our determination,” he added.[4]

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[1] “Car bombing rocks Turkish capital Ankara, 34 dead, 125 injured” RT (13/14 March 2016). https://www.rt.com/news/335463-central-ankara-blast-sunday/?utm_source=browser&utm_medium=aplication_chrome&utm_campaign=chrome.

[2] Car bombing rocks Turkish capital Ankara, 34 dead, 125 injured”.

[3] “Turkey warplanes hit Kurdish PKK camps in northern Iraq – Turkish army” RT (14 March 2016). https://www.rt.com/news/335484-turkey-hits-kurds-iraq/.

[4] “Turkey warplanes hit Kurdish PKK camps in northern Iraq – Turkish army”.

Hüsnü Mahalli ve Ayşenur Arslan ile Medya Mahallesi, 11 Mart 2016

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11.03.2016 – Medya Mahallesi – 1. Bölüm. Konuk: Hüsnü Mahalli / Yurt Gazetesi Yazarı.

11.03.2016 – Medya Mahallesi – 2. Bölüm. Konuk: Hüsnü Mahalli / Yurt Gazetesi Yazarı.

 

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Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs in Years to Come: Mehmet Görmez

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As I have written quite some time ago, when “the Turkish state abolished the Caliphate and the Ministry of Pious Endowments in 1924, the Turkish Republic [started] regulat[ing] its citizens’ religious life through the Religious Affairs Directorate, or Diyanet, a branch of government attached to the office of the prime minister”.[1] And currently, the Directorate is run by Mehmet Görmez, who took over the job from Ali Bardakoğlu on 11 November 2010, after the latter had “publicly called for the establishment of an independent religious authority in Turkey in an interview he gave to the self-avowed atheist Ahmet İnsel of daily Radikal (Oct. 23-24, 2010)”.[2] Since then, Görmez has basically been acting like the AKP’s very own Şeyhülislâm (or Grand Mufti, if you will), publishing edicts left and right to do with a whole host of social and sexual issues, while being driven around in a controversial Mercedes, courtesy of the Prez himself, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

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Being the AKP’s Grand Mufti, Görmez also made sure that his Diyanet also disposed of a virtual presence on the interwebz. A decision that has led to quite a bit of controversy: the “newspaper Birgun shared a screen grab of a Diyanet Q&A in which an anonymous visitor to the interactive site had posed the question, ‘Would my marriage be void if I lust for my own daughter?’ The Quran (4:23) prohibits incest, as does Turkish law, making the answer of an unidentified ulama [actually âlim as the former is the plural form] (religious scholar) to this question all the more shocking. He stated, ‘There is a difference of opinion on the matter among Islam’s different schools of thought. For some, a father kissing his daughter with lust or caressing her with desire has no effect on the man’s marriage.’ He went on to assert that according to the Hanafi school of Islamic thought, the mother would be ‘forbidden’ to such a man. After elaborating in graphic and disturbing detail about girls’ attire, he suggested, ‘The girl should be over nine years of age.’ He also referred to writings by particular religious scholars and gave a concluding explanation about differences in sexual arousal between males and females. Although the religious ruling, or fatwa, appeared on Diyanet’s own website for all to read, the directorate appeared to be more upset at the press for publicizing it and the people who shared it on social media. The reactions by those trying to defend Diyanet were as mind-boggling as the fatwa itself, which was removed from the website Jan. 8 [2016] . . . [while] on Jan. 4 [the Turkish press] reported that [the] Diyanet had declared marriage to Alevis impermissible. ‘According to Islam, a Muslim woman can only wed a Muslim man,’ [the] Diyanet responded to a question on the matter. A week later, on Jan. 10, [the] Diyanet was reported to have announced that anyone having an abortion should donate 5 camels or 221 grams of gold”, as recounted by Pinar Tremblay”.[3] The Research Associate at UCLA Tremblay goes on to detail the following spicy anecdote as well: “On Dec. 31, [2015,] the directorate made the news with its ‘engaged couples fatwa,’ warning that couples should not be left alone, nor should they hold hands, during their engagement. When Al-Monitor asked a prominent imam about the rationale behind the fatwa, he replied on the condition of anonymity, ‘We are under pressure from young couples and their parents to perform religious weddings [which are not legally binding]. Once they get the religious approval, if the marriage is consummated and the couple breaks up [before their civil ceremony], then the young women become victims.’ [The] Diyanet is well aware that the demand for religious marriage comes with a cost, and it is therefore trying to persuade couples to refrain from sex prior to officially being married in the eyes of the state”.[4]

AKP Şeyhülislâm

Now that the county is in the grip of presidential fever, the AKP Şeyhülislâm (or Grand Mufti) has taken it upon himself to spread the word, talking to the press and pontificating about a whole host of subjects: “During debates on the new constitution, [the] Diyanet should definitely be restructured. In my opinion, getting [the] Diyanet completely out of politics and turning it into an entirely autonomous institution has become an obligation . . . I believe that [for the Diyanet] to resume its presence as an autonomous institution in administrative, scientific and religious [terms] which has [a] public corporate identity and which can stand on its own feet but which is a constitutional institution will be useful . . . At the moment, looking at our region, religious services are a matter of security. In a world like this, the presence of [the] Diyanet, which fulfils its services in 85,000 mosques in Turkey five times a day and every Friday and conducts all other work, has gradually become more important. Five years later, it will become [even] more important. If we take [the] developments in the region into consideration, 10 years later, we will be in [greater] need of this institution as the country and as the geography. Taking all of these [developments] into consideration, I believe that it will be more useful to have the institution able to stand on its own feet and proceed on its way with a more uniting and more [comprehensive] mission by leaving aside suspicions, anxieties and fears. We want the [illegal] madrasas [effectively abolished in 1924] in the region to have a certain structure with its curriculum, exams and instructors in a legal environment where their inspection would be possible. We witness that otherwise these structures are being exploited by [the] terror organization [referring to the PKK]. This should also be [expressed] very clearly and transparently and should be pondered. It should not be understood as paving the way for a new institution alternative to formal education”.[5]

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For one thing, Görmez seems to regard the existence of illegal institutions of religious learning in the South-East of the country as permissible. This in spite of the fact that the proclamation of the so-called Tevhid-i Tedrisat Kanunu or the Law on the Unification of Instruction on 3 March 1924 abolished religious instruction in madrasas (spelt as medrese, in Turkish) and made the issue of education the sole prerogative of the Maarif Vekaleti (Ministry of Education), later renamed the Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı).

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[1] C. Erimtan, “Secularism, beer and bikinis” Hürriyet Daily News (10 March 2011). http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=secularism-beer-and-bikinis-2011-03-09.

[2] C. Erimtan, “Secularism, beer and bikinis”.

[3] Pinar Tremblay, ” Incest fatwa lands Turkish religious directorate in hot water” Al-Monitor (15 Jan 2016). http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/01/turkey-religious-affairs-directorate-fatwa.html#ixzz42OlhBqfY.

[4] Pinar Tremblay, ” Incest fatwa lands Turkish religious directorate in hot water”.

[5] “Turkey’s top cleric calls for autonomous religious directorate” Hürriyet Daily News (08 March 2016). http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-top-cleric-calls-for-autonomous-religious-directorate-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=96170&NewsCatID=393.

Eğrisi Doğrusu, 29 Ocak 2016: Bülent Arınç

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‘Eski Başbakan Yardımcısı Bülent Arınç, Eğrisi Doğrusu‘nda Taha Akyol’un sorularını cevaplandırdı. Arınç, çözüm sürecinde yaşanılanları anlattı, terör sorununun bitmesi için “adı ne olursa olsun yeni bir sürecin başlaması” gerektiğini ifade etti (1 Şubat 2016)’.

 

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Make Donald Drumpf Again, #2

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Gwenda Blair wrote the 2001 book that gave John Oliver the impetus to start his online campaign to help the American (and world) public see Donald Trump through the prism of his ancestor, his grandfather Friedrich Drumpf. Last year, Deutsche Welle published an interview with the author that quite naturally managed to escape everyone’s attention. But now that Mister Oliver has put her book on the table again, here is Gwenda Blair talking to Michael Knigge.

The Trumps (2001)

Blair said that Trump’s “grandfather Friedrich Drumpf came to the United States in 1885 which was the height of German immigration to the United States when he was 16. His family was from Kallstadt, winegrowers. The first step to the Donald Trump we know today is that his grandfather did not want to be a vintner, nor did he want to be a barber which is what he was trained to do when he first said he did not want to be involved in growing grapes. He came to New York and, after he learnt English, he went to the West Coast, ran restaurants, amassed a nest egg, then went back to Kallstadt, married the girl next door and brought her to New York. But she was extremely homesick, so they went back to Kallstadt and he tried to repatriate because he had become an American citizen. But whether on purpose or not, he had managed to miss military service – when he left he was too young and after he came back he was just a couple of months too old, which he said was absolutely coincidental. German authorities however thought this was not coincidental at all and refused to let him repatriate. They said he was a draft-dodger, expelled and deported him to the place he came from – the United States – which is how the Trumps ended up as Americans after all instead of simply being a family in Germany that had a grandfather who had spent some years in the United States””.[1]

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Turns out, both Trump and Drumpf are basically shysters . . . as in a persons who use unscrupulous, fraudulent, or deceptive methods in business. Anyways, Blair continued that “Grandpa Trump built his restaurants on land that he did not own. In that time of the Gold Rush in the Klondike, it was the Wild West period. It was wide open, very raw, lots of single men desperately trying to find gold – and prostitutes. And Grandpa Trump’s restaurants had liquor, food and access to women. His restaurants had little cubicles off to the sides with heavy curtains – so called private rooms for ladies – which was absolutely understood to mean prostitutes. His establishment was not the exception there, but he certainly did well by that. And after that he went back to Germany and claimed that he was quiet man who avoided bars in his petition to repatriate. His son Fred, who made his money in real estate in the outer boroughs of New York City, was very good at finding loopholes. When he was building state-financed housing he set up shell equipment companies and then rented bulldozers and trucks from himself at very high and inflated prices. It was not illegal, but he was pushing the edge and bending the rules. He was very good at that. Donald in turn has been very good at finding loopholes and bending rules when he built Trump Towers for example. He hired undocumented Polish workers to do the demolition of the building that had been there before, paid them very low wages and had them sleep on the building site, because they were on such a rushed schedule. Later on he said he had not noticed that they were undocumented which he could not have missed. He is very good at that”.[2]

trumpsr1 Talking about the Donald specifically, Blair argues that she does not think that “contradictions have ever bothered him, which has been confounding obviously to people observing the primary race. He is all over the map politically and I don’t think it matters to him. He used to be a Democrat, but now he’ll be a Republican. Now he is conservative, but he used to be liberal. He used to be for the right for an abortion, now he is hedging back on that. He used to be for immigration reform, now he is against. He moves back and forth very fluidly. I think that is the least bit of concern”.[3]

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[1] “What Donald Trump learned from his German grandpa Friedrich Drumpf” DW (09 Sep 2015). http://www.dw.com/en/what-donald-trump-learned-from-his-german-grandpa-friedrich-drumpf/a-18701551.

[2] “What Donald Trump learned from his German grandpa Friedrich Drumpf”.

[3] What Donald Trump learned from his German grandpa Friedrich Drumpf”.