Erdogan’s response to the protests has been a meltdown on a Gaddafi scale. It’s actually best to assume that Gaddafi’s old speechwriter got a job in Turkey. And it was always inevitable that Erdogan, Obama’s favorite “moderate Islamist” would go Full Islamist. And that’s exactly what he did.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his speech at the Ankara airport today accused protesters of entering the Dolmabahçe Mosque with shoes on and beer bottles in their hands during a fierce police crackdown last weekend, as reported especially on social media after protesters had taken refuge at the mosque.
“They entered the Dolmabahçe Mosque with their beer bottles and their shoes on. They have insulted my headscarf-wearing daughters and sisters. And they haven’t stopped at that,” he said, repeating reports that had been denied by the mosque’s muezzin and imam.
Erdogan is positioning this conflict in an explictly Islamist context. If the protesters have accomplished nothing else in the Turkish Summer, they laid bare the conflict between Islamism and Secularism that has been at the heart of the AKP’s agenda.
So now we have Erdogan talking like a Jihadist on a grainy Jihadcam video from Syria defining the battle as being not over law and order, but between Islam and the infidels. It’s a dangerous move in a Turkey which is still officially secular. Erdogan had been moving slowly to undermine that secularism, but now he appears to have decided to use the protests to hurriedly push things along and usher in a direct attack on Turkey as a secular nation.
Medics were allowed at the historical Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan Mosque, itself only a hundred meters from the office, and it was converted into a first aid center where protesters running from the police crackdown took shelter. Following the episode, rumors spread on social media that some of them entered the mosque with their shoes on, a sign of disrespect, or even drank beer. A video even appeared showing what appeared to be a beer can among medical supplies used to treat the injured.
However both the imam and the muezzin of the mosque denied the claims. “No alcohol was taken here. If the protesters would have seen people drinking after they took refuge here, they would have kicked them out themselves,” Fuat Yıldırım, the muezzin, said.
It’s telling that alcohol is becoming the defining line between the secular Turkey and the Islamist Turkey.