A primary school in Istanbul’s Umraniye neighborhood has recently prepared a “corner” remembering those who lost their lives during the abortive coup on July 15. A model of Sergeant Omer Halisdemir (who died that day), photos of armed soldiers describing the coup night, as well as models of tanks and people standing in front of tanks were put in the corner, with a caption that reads:
Whatever you do, you will not stop the rise of the Turkish nation. Whatever you do, the victory will be of Islam.
Journalists with the Turkish newspaper Evrensel called the principal of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce Primary School (Istanbul Ticaret Odasý Ilkokulu) to ask about the banner. The principal hung up the phone after saying they “do not give information to journalists.”
Ironically, the Gulen movement — which the Turkish government now calls the “Fethullah Gulen Terror Organization” and accuses of masterminding the attempted coup on July 15 — is also an Islamic movement.
Even if the accusations by the government against Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen were correct, it would not be rational to claim that it was the defeat or weakening of Islam that the Islamic Gulen movement targeted by organizing the coup attempt.
Evrensel also reported that last year the board in one of the classrooms of the same school was filled with Koranic verses and hadith — sayings attributed to Islam’s founder, Muhammad, which encouraged dying, killing, and jihad in the name of Islam.
One was the Turkish version of the Koran’s verse 4 of “Surah Muhammad,” which reads:
So when you meet those who disbelieve in battle, strike their necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either confer favor afterwards or ransom them until the war lays down its burdens. That is the command. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them Himself, but He ordered armed struggle to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah — never will He waste their deeds.
Anti-IS students attacked at university campus in Istanbul
A group at Istanbul University attacked a group of secular students who were protesting the Islamic State presence at the faculty of letters of the university, and were disseminating anti-IS leaflets titled “murderous IS.” The attackers tried to destroy the leaflets, according to the Turkish newspaper Birgun.
IS has threatened Istanbul University on social media. In one of the photos IS supporters disseminated on social media, an armed IS militant is standing before the entrance of the university’s campus.
In another photo, an armed IS militant is seen before the Bosphorus Bridge, where the Reina night club, site of a mass shooting on January 1st, is located. At least 39 people were killed and at least 70 were injured in the terror attack. IS officially claimed responsibility, and released a statement claiming the attacker was a soldier of IS who had “struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday.”
See both photos here.
Secular university students arrested in Izmir
Seven members of the secular “Student Collectives” (Ogrenci Kolektifleri) at Izmir ‘s Dokuz Eylul University were detained on January 4 by Turkish police while they were trying to protest the detention of their friends, Aysegul Basar and Hamit Diskaya, members of the secular group “People’s Houses” (Halk Evleri). The two students were arrested as they attempted to read what they called “a declaration of secularism” at university’s cafeteria on January 3.
Turkish school principal: “Caliphate will be reintroduced in 2024”
On the night of the terror attack at Reina night club in Istanbul, Iskender Cinar, the principal of the Yunus Emre Imam Hatip Middle School in the city of Nevsehir, declared on his social media account:
The first secularist is Satan. Secularism is saying that “I accept the existence of Allah but I reject his laws”. Secularism is being a kafir. All of the thieves and pimps in the world are secular.
According to the newspaper Cumhuriyet, Cinar also claimed that a caliphate, an Islamic state ruled according to the Islamic law, will be established in 2024.
Secularists attacked, detained over call to protect secularism
Three people from the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) youth branch in Sakarya’s Serdivan district were battered by an angry mob that chanted “La Ilaha Illallah” (There is no God but Allah) near banners they hung inside a shopping mall on January 9. The banners reportedly read: “Turkey is secular and will remain secular.”
Security guards at the mall rounded up the three CHP members and handed them over to the police. They were later detained, according to media.
Meanwhile, an AKP mayor declared that defending secularism is supporting terrorism.
Yusuf Alemdar, the mayor of the district, referred to the incident from his Twitter account, writing:
Nobody has the right to spoil the peace of our citizens. Saying things like Turkey is secular and will remain secular only supports terrorism.
The successor of the Ottoman Empire, which was also the last Sunni Islamic caliphate from the 14th century to 1924, Turkey already has a great potential for radical Islamization and jihad. The history textbooks at Turkish schools have for decades glorified the history of the Ottoman Empire, including all of its wars and conquests.
Islam also plays a large role in the sociology of Turkish society, even though the country’s constitution is officially secular. According to a 2014 survey, for example, 89% of the Turkish population said that what defines a nation is belonging to a certain religion. Among the 38 countries that participated in the question, Turkey ranked number one in the world.
“So according to [Turkish] citizens in the streets, a Turk is the one who is a Muslim,” said Professor Ersin Kalaycioglu of Sabanci University, one of the academics who conducted the survey.
Moreover, as a result of Turkey’s several massacres, pogroms, and threats against Christians and Jews — such as the 1915 Armenian genocide and the 1934 anti-Jewish pogrom in eastern Thrace — less than 0.2 percent of the country’s current population is now Christian and Jewish.
There is no strong political opposition to stop or at least effectively challenge the authoritarian policies of the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) government.
Sadly, the situation appears to be getting grimmer by the day. Further Islamization of the Turkish educational system, proud declarations of sympathy for jihad and the caliphate, as well as increasing pressures against secularists and dissidents do not provide one with a bright and promising picture about the future of the country.