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Keeping Hope Alive: The Promising Results of the Turkish Local Elections

The Platform - Sun, 07/04/2019 - 11:05

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling AKP party face decreasing public support


Let you smile and let the clouds go.
Otherwise, how do I be regenerated,
Maybe a film comes to the city,
A beautiful forest would be in the writings,
The climate would change,
become Mediterranean, let you smile.

– Kemal Burkay (Kurdish poet and politician)


The local elections held on 31 March 2019 in Turkey produced a result of great significance to the country and its government’s politics of authoritarian nationalism.

The promising results have caused jubilation among those desperate to see the end of increasingly repressive rule and, despite the long and difficult road ahead, it signals the potential for serious change.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – Justice and Development Party) lost municipalities of major cities such as Ankara, Istanbul, Antalya, Adana and Mersin to the secular main opposition party CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi – People’s Republican Party).

These are great victories for the CHP that were a long time coming. However, this victory is not only a success for the CHP’s outstanding candidates such as the new mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, and the mayor of the capital Ankara, Mansur Yavaș. It is also a success for the Kurdish-led leftist party HDP (Halkların Demokratik Partisi – Democratic Party of People) and its imprisoned former co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş, in particular.

Demirtaş called his electorate to go to the ballot box rather than boycott the elections and use their valuable votes to stand against fascism and for democracy and peace. He and Sezai Temelli, the current co-chairman of the HDP, also urged their electorate to vote for the opposition parties CHP and İyi Parti (İYİP) especially in western cities where the HDP did not stand a candidate. This strategy was based on winning in the Kurdish-populated cities and making the Islamist-nationalist AKP-MHP coalition lose in the western and southern provinces of Turkey, where the Kurdish population is not predominant but still strategically effective.

Selahattin Demirtas in the F-Type prison, Edirne


Kurds, who are especially restricted in certain Kurdish areas in the east and southeast of Turkey due to state repression, caused the AKP-MHP block to lose in the west by voting for CHP candidates. Although some Kurdish cities such as Ağrı and Şırnak gave results in favour of the AKP, the Kurds voted predominantly for the HDP in Diyarbakır, Kars, Mardin, Batman, Siirt, Van and Hakkari.

These results tell us some important facts. First of all, the opposition’s victory owes to Demirtaş’s call for Kurds to support the CHP in the west. Second, the CHP conducted a successful election campaign with good candidates. Third, the ongoing recession and rising unemployment are crucial factors in the election upset.

What’s more, these promising results indicate the failure of Erdogan’s polarising, populist rhetoric that claimed that the local elections were a matter of national survival, as well as his attempts to discredit opposition candidates with allegations of terrorism and/or corruption. However, talk of the beginning of the end for Erdogan’s authoritarian rule should be qualified by the fact that Erdogan’s AKP received almost 45 per cent of the total votes across Turkey, while its closest rival CHP won 30 per cent.

Since losing Istanbul, which is the most crowded city in Turkey, may mean losing Turkey, we can expect the AKP led by Erdogan to become more desperate to cling on. The loss in Istanbul is also particularly symbolic for Erdogan because he entered Turkey’s political arena as the young mayor of Istanbul in 1994. In addition to Istanbul, the loss of Ankara is critical, because these cities have been ruled by members of Islamist and/or nationalist political parties including the AKP and MHP for decades. That’s why the AKP have recently raised an objection to the election results in Istanbul where the difference in votes between the two candidates, the CHP’s Ekrem İmamoğlu and the AKP’s Binali Yıldırım, were very little.

What should we expect to happen following this? The pressure on the opposition may increase, the CHP and HDP municipalities may not be allowed to work properly – they may be accused of corruption and terrorism – and even the elected mayors of the opposition parties could be jailed. This has happened to many mayors and politicians of the HDP. Erdogan and the MHP’s leader Devlet Bahçeli highlighted many times after the local election results that there will be no snap election and the general election will be held as planned in 2023. Erdogan is fully aware of his decreasing public support. Meanwhile, Erdogan’s AKP will try to regain the support and power that they have been unable to get from the public through repression. They will try to discredit and persecute the opposition municipalities and, as soon as they succeed, they will announce a snap general election.

We should not forget that fascism is only possible with the abolition of the opposition. But the AKP and Erdogan are not able to break the opposition’s resilience. The opposition, especially the CHP, should consider serious changes to its policies of Turkish nationalism that mainly depends on the denial of the Kurdish question and supporting military measures to end it. This would allow the CHP to break the anti-Kurdish policy of the political Islamist-nationalist AKP-MHP block. This would show their appreciation of the Kurdish people’s electoral support. It would also confront the fact that we will not see a fully democratic country until the Kurdish question is peacefully resolved by negotiated settlement.

Image from here.

Categories: Muslim blogs

Poem: The Great Repeal

The Platform - Sun, 31/03/2019 - 11:27

“As it happens, personally I have always
been in favour of fox hunting” – Theresa May

when we abolish the political correctness gone mad
that is the Human Rights Act,
it will again be legal to strip and smear
Conservative parliamentary candidates
with animal fat and pursue them with hounds
through the Devon countryside
bank holiday Mondays; legal

to remove from your property
with a horse whip or, failing that, a cross bow
any Daily Mail journalists
you catch going through your bins;

legal to tie down and spread tuna fish oil all over
the Chairman (or Woman) of a FTSE 100 company
and leave the rest
to your expert team of feral cats;

legal to chase
with demented Alsatians
through Welwyn Garden City of a Wednesday
former rock journalists with nothing left
but their opinion of themselves;

legal in certain parts of East Sussex
to set starving greyhounds
on anyone you think resembles
a retired tennis player
or Mike Reed of the BBC;

legal again to hunt, using properly licensed rifles,
decayed intellectuals
with nothing now going on under
their formerly magnificent hair
on the anniversary of Professor Norman Stone’s funeral;

legal once more to celebrate
St. George’s Day by following
Pippa Middleton around Herefordshire with bulldogs
and a temperamental shotgun;

when the British people rise,
put the B back into Britain
and she once again rules
the itsy-bitsy waves
around the Isle of Wight, mate.
The waves around the Isle of Wight.

Categories: Muslim blogs

To My Muslim Brothers and Sisters in Christchurch, New Zealand:

Imam Zaid Shakir Blog - Sat, 16/03/2019 - 22:50

With the Name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

I extend my deepest condolences to all of those whose family members, loved ones, friends, or acquaintances have been killed or wounded in the recent terrorist attack. Despite the natural and understandable pain following in the immediate aftermath of this tragedy, you should find solace in knowing that your deceased will have Paradise, and your wounded will not suffer in any way except that their sins will be removed from them until they are restored to the state of purity with which they entered the world.

As we know by now, this heinous crime was incubated in a milieu of exclusivist, racist hatred. We should do everything in our power to counter the spread of that virulent and putrid ideology with inclusive, humanitarian love. This is a contribution we can make to these Western societies, which are our homes, at a time when the forces of xenophobic hyper-nationalism threaten to engulf these lands in a destructive, dead-end fascism thought to have been permanently buried in the rubble of Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy.

Our religion prepares us well for that task as we are taught that we are all members of one unified human family and that non-physical qualities such as righteousness form the only basis for any of us to claim any virtue over the other. As for the accidents of birth such as race, ethnicity, skin tone, hair texture, or physical stature, they are but signs which point out to us the creative power of God and were never meant to form the basis of any claims of superiority or privilege.

While you must individually take all lawful means to protect your lives, families and communities, and cooperate with the authorities to do the same, now is not the time to retreat from your communities. They need your support in the effort to create a safer, more secure and peaceful society.

As you can see in the outpouring of support you have received from your Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, down to the common man and woman in the street, the overwhelming majority of your fellow New Zealanders stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you to do just that.

May God grant you strength, fortitude and patience during this challenging time.

Categories: Muslim blogs

I Stand With Ilhan

Imam Zaid Shakir Blog - Fri, 08/03/2019 - 22:22

Today marks International Women’s Day. Among other things, the day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the amazing contributions women make to our lives, families and societies. With their grace, dignity, forbearance, sacrifice and courage, women enrich our lives in countless ways.

Speaking of courage, what better day to mention the immense courage being displayed by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. By being a voice for the voiceless, long-suffering masses of Palestine, she has exposed herself to the death threats, demonization, character assassination and other hazards that usually befall those who raise their voices to call for fairness and balance in how the Israeli/Palestinian issue is represented and adjudicated in this country.

How many more bombardments of Gaza; how many more targeted assassinations; how many more intentionally murdered and maimed unarmed protesters; how many more babies euphemistically “put on a diet” or systematically starved; how many more checkpoints; how many more political prisoners; how much more humiliation, great and small, before someone in the halls of power in this country raised their voice to say enough is enough?

Ilhan Omar had the courage to raise her voice, despite the risks, and for that I salute her. While I would not endorse everything she advocates, I will say during this time when she needs the support of our community, that I stand with Ilhan. May God bless and protect her.

Photo image The Atlantic on 3/7/19:

Categories: Muslim blogs

The Unfinished Business of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Imam Zaid Shakir Articles - Mon, 21/01/2019 - 19:25

During these days many in this country are commemorating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., born January 15, 1929. While most remember Dr. King for his soaring oration, symbolized by his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered before a sweltering throng at the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963, Dr. King was far more than a moving orator. He was a formidable intellectual, an effective organizer and a passionate advocate for the freedom of his people. These qualities combined with Dr. King’s oratorical abilities to make him an individual oppressive political powers came to both despise and fear.

For all that he was able to accomplish in the context of the Civil Rights struggle and in advancing the rights and dignity of African Americans, Dr. King realized that his work was not complete; neither in the South nor in the North, as his painful experience in Chicago underscored. To a certain extent, his unfinished work is larger than the Civil Rights struggle, that work revolves around what he identified as the evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism. Decisively combating these evils is a daunting challenge, some might even describe it as nearly impossible. Dr. King realized, however, that with the help of God all things are possible and he thus never lost hope that we could overcome these forces. As people of faith, this should be our firm belief.

Our Muslim community is one whose existence, contrary to popular misconception, is predicated on the establishment of peace. It is a community that came into existence as a multiracial force and lists anti-materialism as one of its foundational principles (renounce the world and Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) will love you). I believe that we have been divinely prepared to take up the torch held aloft so courageously by Dr. King and dedicate ourselves to the completion of his work. This is absolutely critical for the wellbeing of our nation and the world for as long as those evils rip through the waters of our collective humanity, the dehumanizing violence they give birth to will follow in their wake.

In his powerful but oftentimes overlooked speech, “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam,” delivered at the Riverside Church in Manhattan on April 4, 1967, Dr. King showed how these three evils are connected and how they combine to make the United States, in his words, “…the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” The fact that such violence continues, unabated, should cause all of us to reflect deeply on why we as a society have not done more to address it. The gut-wrenching violence we visited upon Vietnam has directly afflicted Afghanistan and Iraq and indirectly defines the fate of nations like Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Palestine.

I believe one of the reasons we have done so little to arrest that violence is because we as a nation are so effective in denying its existence. In the words of a popular song, “Memories may be beautiful and yet what’s too painful to remember we simply choose to forget…” As a society, we find it far too easy and convenient to simply forget the painful horrors of native genocide, chattel slavery, Jim Crow and its accompanying brutalities, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan or the next place whose name might be added to this list. Dr. King forces us to remember these horrors and the violence they birthed –through the brilliance of his oration, the seriousness of his struggle and the testimony of his death.

The following lengthy quote from Francis Fitzgerald’s vivid chronicling of the Vietnam War, “Fire in the Lake,” serves to both awaken us to the magnitude of American violence and also the tragedy of how easy it would be to replace Vietnam with Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria or Yemen and find that it would be an apt description of any of those places. She writes:

“In the refugee camps and isolated villages people die of malnutrition and the children are deformed. In the cities, where there is no sanitation and rarely any running water, the adults die of cholera, typhoid, smallpox, leprosy, bubonic plague, and their children die of the common diseases of dirt, such as scabies and sores. South Vietnam knows nothing like the suffering of India or Bangladesh. Comparatively speaking it has always been a rich country and the American aid has provided many people with the means for survival. But its one source of wealth is agriculture and the American war has wreaked havoc on its forests and paddy lands. It has given great fortune to the few while endangering the country’s future and forcing the many to live in the kind of “poverty, ignorance and disease” that South Vietnam never knew before.

Still, the physical destruction, perhaps, is not the worst of it. The destruction of an entire society –“That is, above all, what the Vietnamese blame the Americans for,” said one Vietnamese scholar. “Willingfully or not, they have tended to destroy what is most precious to us: family, friendship, our manner of expressing ourselves.” … “Physical death is everywhere but it is the social death caused by the destruction of the family that is of overriding importance.” 


One could realistically ask why mention these things at this time when we should be celebrating Dr. King’s life and work? Why should we even care when we can do little or nothing to change such monstrous realities? I would respond that his nonviolent opposition to the stultifying violence of our country is the very essence of Dr. King’s life and work and collectively, with the help of Allah, we can begin to change the regime perpetuating that violence. I would respond to the above queries with a different set of questions. Namely, how many more innocent societies have to be destroyed before we as a people say enough is enough? What type of world do we wish to leave our children? Is it one where the situation described in “Fire in the Lake” becomes so common that it does not even prick their consciences. Have we become so blinded by the American dream that we can no longer see the accompanying global nightmare that helps to make it possible?

Some would say that the mere mention of such issues is overwhelming for the average person and hence could well lead to a type of socio-psychiatric paralysis. One the beautiful features of Islam is that it allows us to recognize our limitations while still maintaining a principled opposition to wrong. By so doing we are able to escape becoming socio-political zombies. Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Almighty God upon him) wisely stated,


“If one of you sees something wrong let him change it with his hand. If unable to do so let him speak out against it. If still unable to do so let him hate it in his heart, and that is the weakest manifestation of faith.”


Thus, if one finds himself or herself unable to do something lawful and practical like joining with the work of the Quakers or other institutions with a long history of nonviolent anti-war activism in this country, or founding a similarly-oriented Muslim group, let him or her speak out against it at every forum and via every medium available. If even that is not possible then let them hate it in their hearts. Doing so is the least we can do to honor the life, legacy, and sacrifice of Dr. King and hopefully, it will serve as a first step in our moving to finish the work he so valiantly started.

Reprint from Muslim Matters, Jan.19, 2019:

Categories: Articles

Stop Theresa May From Making People Stateless

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15
Picture:  Theresa May

Theresa May is pushing legislation in order to expand her powers to strip naturalised UK citizens of their citizenship

Categories: Muslim news

Why I don’t support #BringBackOurGirls being hijacked

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15
Picture:  MPACUK logo

The political elite don’t really care — they only speak out when it is politically expedient and fits in with their narrative

Categories: Muslim news

Have you got a problem with halal meat? Too bad. Deal with it

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15
Picture:  The Halal Matrix

We want halal meat to be labelled — but on our terms. Not yours.

Full article here - link

Categories: Muslim news

Muslims ridicule Boris Johnson with #SignsOfARadicalBaby

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15
Picture:  Boris Johnson

London Mayor, Boris Johnson, is never one to shy away from controversy - especially when it comes to Muslims.

Categories: Muslim news

Action Alert: Hold the Little Man to Account

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15
Picture:  MPACUK Action Alert!

For the past ten years Islamophobia has increased to such a level that when you ask the average British person about their views on Islam or Muslims it’s normally a negative reaction that you wil

Categories: Muslim news

Upcoming MPACUK Conference - The Muslim Freedom Struggle

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15
Picture:  MPACUK Conference

Faris Odeh, the boy in this iconic image, optimises the struggle for Muslim freedom. Armed with nothing but a stone, he stood up in defiance against Israeli oppression.

Categories: Muslim news

'Dirty Wars' by Jeremy Scahill - a review

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15
Picture:  Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill

On Saturday night, some of the MPACUK went to watch a screening of the much anticipated 'Dirty Wars' by Jeremy Scahill. The film, like the book, leaves you with nightmare.

Categories: Muslim news

The Death of Nelson Mandela & Political Opportunism

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15
Picture:  Nelson Mandela Palestine

I, like many of you, was saddened to hear of the death of Nelson Mandela, a man who stuck to his unshakeable beliefs and princip

Categories: Muslim news

Give Back, Give Blood

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15

"...And whoever saves one life, it is as if he has saved the whole of mankind..." The Holy Quran (5:32)

Categories: Muslim news

At War With Peace: The Assassination of Hakimullah Mehsud

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15

It’s my assertion that whenever “the enemy” wishes to enter peace talks, it’s “the West” that refuses terms and responds with violence.

Categories: Muslim news

British Muslim Grandfather Murdered by Mosque Bomber: Stop the Media Cover Up!

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15
Picture:  MPACUK Action Alert!

This story was only the 4th item on the BBC headlines on news at 10, BBC news 24 and the BBC news website - a

Categories: Muslim news

I Got It Covered.........

Muslim Public Affairs Committee - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 21:15
Picture:  hijabshadow

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Categories: Muslim news
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