Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent speeches and media remarks have been marked by an increasingly radical rhetoric. Among mainstream political leaders in Turkey today, Erdogan is by far and away the most hard-line and polarizing orator.
Radical anti-Western antagonism and paranoia, based on an extremist melange of Turkish nationalism and Islamism, have increasingly infused his speeches. The most striking example of this troubling metamorphosis was the speech he made during a ceremony held March 16 in the presidential palace to award “state honor medals” to army veterans and families of fallen soldiers.
“Don’t even think that the struggle that began 1,400 years ago between the truth [Islam] and fallacy [other beliefs] is over. Don’t even think that those who set an eye on these lands 1,000 years ago have given up their ambitions. Don’t even think that those who turned up at the Dardanelles, and then across Anatolia 100 years ago, coming with the most powerful armies, weapons and technology of the time, have repented. No, they never did so. This long-standing struggle is going on and will go on,” he added.
Erdogan went on to say, “We have to keep toiling with this awareness, always ready for one of the two beautiful [eventualities], and take measures accordingly.” What he meant by two “beautiful” eventualities was becoming a “martyr” or “ghazi.” In the Islamic sense, a martyr is someone who sacrifices his life in the name of Allah, while “ghazi” is a title honoring fighters who have survived a war in the name of Allah. In contemporary Turkish culture, the “martyr” and “ghazi” terms are generally used to denote fighters who get killed or injured while defending the motherland.
To speak of the existence of “those who want to turn Turkey into another Andalusia” reflects a state of morbid paranoia. Erdogan refers to Andalusia in 1492, meaning that certain forces exist today who want to similarly purge Muslims from Turkey or force them to convert. It is a suspicion impossible to back up with tangible evidence. Yet, a front-page headline in the Islamist Yeni Safak the following day read, “Turkey will not become another Andalusia.” The leftist BirGun daily, for its part, said Erdogan’s remarks amounted to “a call for jihad.”
Full article: Erdogan grows more radical (Al Monitor)