Erdoğan targets West: Some haven’t forgotten the pain of losing İstanbul

Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at referendum meeting in Balıkesir on April 6, 2017.

Continuing to target the West during his nonstop “yes” campaign ahead of an April 16 referendum on a switch to an executive presidency, Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the West has not forgotten losing Istanbul to the Turks in 1453.

“We [Turks] made a big decision when we opened the gates of Anatolia in 1071. Similarly, we made a big decision when we conquered İstanbul. For centuries some have not been able to forget the pain of losing İstanbul in 1453,” Erdoğan said on Wednesday during a program dedicated to “Relatives of July 15 Martyrs and Veterans” in İstanbul.

“Some could not get rid of the anger of our mark on the Balkans, North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. For centuries, they have lived with the pain of losing that paradise-like land. They want our nation to pay for it.”

Strongly criticizing the remarks of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu that the July 15 coup attempt was a controlled one, Erdoğan said: “There are thousands of people in the prisons now. Who put them in jail as an executive power? You? We put them there. Now they are facing the court. What will their fate be? The judiciary will decide.”

Last week Kılıçdaroğlu said President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım do not want a July 15 coup attempt to be investigated because they are concerned such a probe could extend to themselves.

“The government and the president want to cover up this coup attempt. Since it will reach them, they do not want it investigated any more deeply,” said Kılıçdaroğlu during an interview with NTV.


Meanwhile, President  Erdoğan has said just like the Prophet Muhammad was protected by a spider from his enemies who sought to kill him during his migration from Mecca to Medina, he was miraculously protected from putschists on the night of a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Speaking during a live ATV-A Haber joint broadcast on Tuesday night, Erdoğan likened his protection from the putschists to the protection of the Prophet Muhammad from his enemies during his journey from Mecca to Medina.

Erdoğan was on vacation in the western holiday resort of Marmaris when a group of military officers unsuccessfully attempted a coup on the night of July 15.

“[We later learned that] they [the putschists] had come to the Dalaman [airport] before us and examined our plane. Very interesting things took place there, they went into the plane, looked around and left. We were unaware of this at the time. …  Their [putschists] arrival and departure… It was in the Nur Cave, was not it? They [the Prophet’s enemies] are coming, our beloved Prophet is there with [his companion] Abu Bakr Siddiq, but a spider spun a web and the enemies saw it [the web] and said: ‘Since a spider has spun a web here, nobody must have entered,’ and they turned back. Now, when the [putschists] came and saw nobody in the plane, they too turned back,” Erdoğan said.

Justice and Development Party (AKP) government officials frequently attract criticism for their controversial remarks on religion and their attribution of righteousness to Erdoğan. AKP Deputy Chairman Mustafa Ataş said on March 28, 2016 that President Erdoğan was a blessing from God to the Ummah, the worldwide community of Muslims.

AKP Aydın provincial chairman İsmail Hakkı Eser was quoted as saying that he and party sympathizers love Erdoğan so much they think of him “like a second prophet.”

In a similar vein, Deputy Health Minister Agah Kafkas once said: “When we lay the foundation of a [facility], we also provide the date of its opening. This is the sunnah — Muslim practices based on the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad — of Tayyip Erdoğan.”

No government officials or supporters have publicly objected to the statements.

AKP Bursa deputy Hüseyin Şahin is known to have said that touching Erdoğan is a form of prayer, while AKP Düzce deputy Fevai Arslan said Erdoğan has all the attributes of God himself.

Turkey experienced a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the movement.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

In a currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10.

According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention.

Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded last month that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.

The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup attempt on July 15.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the failed coup attempt in Turkey. (SCF with April 12, 2017

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