Muslim blogs

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
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