Is Turkey returning to Islam?

Published by Saqib Akbar on

Syed Saqib Akbar

Many analysts believe that Erdogan’s Turkey is very different from Ataturk’s Turkey. The latest evidence of this is the conversion of the historic Aya Sofia Museum of Istanbul into a mosque. This was decided by a Turkish court last Friday. This court is called the Council of State.It has the status of a high administrative court. According to this court, it was illegal in 1934 to remove the status of the Sofia Mosque and turn it into a museum.

In the settlement document this place was specified for the mosque. Therefore, legally it cannot be used for any other purpose. Following the court’s decision, Aya Sofia was converted into a mosque by presidential decree.On this occasion; President Erdogan said that re birth of Aya Sofia heralds the liberation of Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is worth mentioning that a church was established at this place about one and a half thousand years ago, which was later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman period.

Erdogan’s Turkey presents Ottoman period for its bright past. In this era, the Ottoman Empire is being presented as a golden past, in this regard, dramas and films coming from Turkey, reveals the new aspirations of the new Turkish leadership. In 2015, the subjects of religious culture and ethics were included in the curriculum of Turkish educational institutions. After that Arabic alphabet teaching was also started. This was the script of the Turkish language in the Ottoman era. The alphabets were changed to Latin by the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk. Erdogan said that whether opponents like it or not, Ottomani language will be taught in Turkey.

Erdogan is said to be a proponent of political Islam, while Fethullah Gulen’s movement, in contrast, is based on Islamic humanism and is opposed to political Islam. This is said to be the main reason for the feud between Fethullah Gulen and Erdogan. United States and Europe support Fethullah Gulen for this reason, and for the same reason the United States has so far granted him refuge. In 2010 Israeli commandos attacked the Freedom Flotilla en route to Gaza from Turkey during Gaza blockade. At that time, Turkey emerged as a major supporter of the Palestinians, and it was said that long-standing Israeli-Turkish relations would end in the same way Iran’s relations with Israel ended after imam Khomeini came to power, which had existed since the Shah’s time.

Apparently, President Erdogan is still a flag bearer of Palestinian rights. His statement on the occasion of the restoration of Aya Sofia as a mosque is reminiscent of this background. It’s all in place, but is this one side of the picture or something else? which needs to be examined. It is possible to say that Turkey is slowly emerging from Ataturk’s era, so there are still some remnants of the past. However, it is also important to look at the other side, so that the whole picture becomes clear.

Turkey has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, commonly known as NATO, a US-led political and military alliance since 1949. The coalition currently has 29 members. As a member of this coalition, Turkish troops have also been fulfilling their responsibilities in Afghanistan. NATO bases are in Turkey. Turkey has allowed US forces to establish a missile defense shield on Turkish soil. Turkey’s operations in Syria have the verbal support of NATO, however Turkey demands that NATO should cooperate militarily, but in view of the public resistance and successive defeats that the United States is facing in Syria and Iraq, NATO is unable to provide practical assistance to Turkey. Anyways NATO’s past history tells that it performs as spectator if Muslims are fighting among themselves. Relations between Turkey and Israel were somewhat strained after Israeli commandos attacked the Freedom Flotilla in 2010, which relaxed three years later with a new resolution.

However, cultural, political and sports ties between Turkey and Israel continued during this period. At the diplomatic level, relations were at low ebb, which were later restored. The trade volume between the two countries is more than five billion dollars. Mutual Cargo service remained uninterrupted. The two countries also have long-standing military ties. The armed forces of two countries also hold military exercises with each other. Turkish President Erdogan’s son’s trading companies continue to deal with Israel. The two countries have agreed to cooperate in NATO and UNO. Turkey has assured Israel in an agreement that it will take Israel into confidence in advance for future contacts with Gaza. In the Corona period, Turkey has been a great help to Israel. Relations between the two countries are progressing day by day. Israel has called the resumption of ties with Turkey a victory over Iran, which is accused of collaborating with organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which Israel calls terrorists.

Verbal support for Palestine from a major Islamic country like Turkey is considered in Israel’s interest as opposed to Iran’s practical assistance to the Palestinian resistance, so in practice Israel has no fear of Turkey’s statements. By making a counter statement, Israel seems to settle the score, and it also shows to the world that there is a heated exchange between the two on the issue of Palestine.

If we look into Turkey’s behavior it seems opposing to ongoing resistance against United States and Israel, although there are some commonalities between the resistance and the Turkish government, which leaves some windows of cooperation open. This is a separate chapter in the story, which cannot be opened here at this time. In this case, our readers can answer the question for themselves: Is Turkey returning to Islam? Our wish is that we answer this question in the affirmative, but for that Turkey will have to withdraw from NATO and stand against Israel in the same way as Imam Khomeini’s Iran does.


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