Yusuf Kanli, a secularist columnist for the English edition of one of Turkey’s largest newspapers (Hurriyet), is fed up with his government’s insistence on not using the words “terror” and “Islam” in the same sentence. The threat posed by radical Muslims, he argues, is real. There’s no use in denying it or pretending that their many crimes have nothing to do with their hate-filled ideology:
Indeed, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan conceded a while ago, this country has been in a “war atmosphere” for a long time. No one would perhaps like to use the words “Islam” and “terrorism” together. Yet the radical Islamist threat this country – and the world – has been facing for the past decade, has been so brutal and disgusting that no one can any longer describe it as an organization of disgruntled and angry Muslim young men. Refusing to refer to the group with its Turkish or English names because people would establish a connotation between it and the “good name of Islam” cannot solve the problem. If the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were being referred to with its Arabic acronyms “Daesh,” would it make any difference other than fooling ourselves? These men are Islamist terrorists and they are so brutal, that they behead people, burn them alive and even worse, they film such brutal executions and use them as propaganda.
In Europe and the United States, most people have no problem with calling ISIS the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” or the “Islamic State in Syria.” That’s obviously because that’s what they call (albeit in Arabic) and how they see themselves. Jihadists are driven by a radical, extremist version of Islam. We in the West get that and are honest about it. Sadly, that’s not necessarily the same in majority-Muslim countries. All too often, both citizens and governments pretend that radical Muslims’ crimes against humanity have nothing whatsoever to do with their religious views. It’s all because of poverty. Or it’s an American conspiracy. Or a British conspiracy. Or a German conspiracy. Or a Mossad conspiracy. In other words, everything and everybody but Islam and (radical) Muslims are supposedly involved.
That’s why it’s so brave for Kanli to speak out against that sentiment.
Let’s hope that his countrymen take his column to heart and start calling this particular beast by its name: radical Islam. Not just Islam — most Muslims aren’t radical or violent or even fundamentalist — but radical Islam.