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Associated Press: Turkey seeks to contain Islamic radicals

  • Published in Media Coverage
  •   |, Turkey (AP) - As the only Muslim member of NATO and a candidate to join the EU, Turkey has come to be seen as a bridge between East and West - held up by Washington as a shining example of how Islam is compatible with modern democracy.

But as U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to come here next week in a trip some herald as a milestone in ties, Turkish leaders are grappling with a formidable challenge: radical Islamic groups preaching jihad and vowing to unravel Turkey's democratic achievements.

The conundrum is twofold: A real threat from Muslim radicals intent on destabilizing the government, and the perception by many that by cracking down, Turkey is betraying the very democratic principles that have helped win it much trust and acceptance in the West.

Listening to the radicals, it's easy to fathom Turkey's difficulties.

Yilmaz Celik, a spokesman for the shadowy radical Islamist group Hizb-ut Tahrir, was released from prison last month after serving a five-month sentence on terrorism charges.

He says he despises the U.S., finds the "Alliance of Civilizations" conference Obama is attending a joke, and believes Turkey's moderate, Islamist-leaning leadership is a stooge of the West.

But while Celik explicitly urges Islamic nations to wage jihad to "liberate" Muslims and laces his rhetoric with venom, he insists his group does not itself support or carry out terror attacks.

"We're full of grudges and hatred against the United States and Britain for exporting their ideology and giving 'soft messages' to deceive the Islamic world, for example in the shape of an olive branch to Iran," said Celik, whose group has attracted a following in dozens of countries.

The fine line Celik tries to tread puts Turkey in a quandary.

Turkey's EU bid depends greatly on its ability to promote itself as a nation that respects civil liberties like freedom of speech. But the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also keenly aware of how fragile Turkey's social and political equilibrium can be. The military has ousted four elected governments since 1960. The government believes its hard line is the only way to keep radical Muslim groups in check.

Turkey has been vigilant against homegrown Islamic militants since al-Qaida-linked suicide bombers killed 58 people in 2003. Al-Qaida's austere and violent interpretation of Islam receives little public backing in the country.

However, some radical Muslims here regard Turkey's friendship with Israel, the United States and Britain - as well as efforts to join the European Union - as tantamount to treason. And the country is still debating the role of religion in the officially secular state.

Celik accuses the United States of waging what he said a "fourth crusade" against the Muslims.

"For us, neither (former U.S. president George W.) Bush nor Obama is any different. They are given the same mission. When you look from the outside, Obama might be using a softer language," Celik said. "But Obama is certainly not sincere."

Celik said Obama's arrival in Turkey is aimed at "strengthening the United States' influence in Muslim lands through soft messages."

Turkey and Germany are among countries that ban Hizb-ut Tahrir, but others such as Britain, Australia and the United States see no hard evidence of terrorist activity and just monitor it closely.

Washington sees Turkey as a key player in its fight against terrorism. As such, it appears inclined to give implicit backing to the Turkish government's anti-terror strategy - even though it doesn't itself ban groups like Hizb-ut Tahrir.

Some activists say the government has gone too far in its crackdown on radical Muslim groups.

"The state has no right to ban any group which is not involved in violence, whether it is an Islamic or Marxist one," said Ayhan Kucuk of the Mazlum-Der, an Islamic-oriented human rights organization in Turkey. "Otherwise, it must prove that they pose a security threat."

Celik, the official spokesman of the Turkey branch of Hizb-ut Tahrir, or Liberation Party, said the only way to liberate Muslims from the thoughts, systems and laws of nonbelievers is to create a global Islamic state and resurrect the Caliphate to govern with strict Islamic rule, or Shariah.

"We're calling on armies and leaders of Islamic countries to wage jihad against forces that have seized the lands of Islam in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Chechnya," said Celik, released from prison on Feb. 20 after being convicted of attempting to overthrow the secular republic and replace it with an Islamic state.

Celik, 40, still faces trial on terror-related charges in five separate cases and could be imprisoned again. He has served a total of 2 1/2 years in prison on different occasions since 2003. He insists his group does not advocate terrorism.

"Hizb-ut Tahrir does not believe that the group itself, as an organization, should commit violence or terrorism," James Brandon of the Quilliam Foundation, a research center in London, wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "However, it believes that if individual Muslims want to carry out attacks of defensive jihad, for instance in Iraq or Afghanistan, then they should be allowed to do so."

Obama will travel to Turkey on April 5 to seek Turkish support for U.S. goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will attend a forum sponsored by Turkey and Spain to reduce tensions between the West and Islamic countries.

Some experts say the group has tens of thousands of supporters around the world. Turkish police accelerated a crackdown on the group after it held a demonstration in 2005. Celik says he does not post a sign outside his office because he knows the police will tear it down.

The group's Turkish members were not swayed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's scolding of Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland over the killings of civilians in Gaza.

Celik's deputy, Haluk Ozdogan, described the incident as "a mere tactic to raise the profile of moderate Islamists at the cost of deviating from the purity of Islam."



O Muslims! Eject the American political and military presence, and its intelligence agencies, from the region, which are the real cause for the chaos and attacks

On the morning of 30 March 2009, a dozen attackers, heavily armed with sophisticated weaponry, attacked the Manawa Police Training School, leaving scores dead and hundreds injured. After this attack, the government started to claim that the attackers are linked with the Tribal Areas, in which America wants to continue her war.


Those meeting with the killer enemies of Muslims can never be sincere with the Ummah

Hizb ut-Tahrir condemns in the strongest words the recent visit of Holbrooke and Mullen and their meetings with politicians as well as their dictations for the future of Pakistan.  The meeting of opposition and government politicians with the likes of Mullens and Holbrookes who's hands are dripping with fresh blood of Muslims of Pakistan and Afghanistan, is not only treachery


Views on the News 9/4/09

  • Published in News & Comment
  •   |  

UK scholar advocates women imams for Britain's Muslims

This week Ruth Gledhill The Times Religious Correspondent reported that South African-born Dr Hargey a Muslim scholar supports the right of Muslim women to become imams. Dr Hargey is currently raising £2 million to build Britain's first progressive mosque, in Oxford, where he hopes to have a woman imam leading prayers for mixed congregations. He is no stranger to controversy, and made headlines last year when he invited a woman, US progressive Islamic scholar Amina Wadud, to lead Friday prayers at the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, where he claims a regular congregation of up to 300 Muslims.

US and EU at odds over Turkey's entry into the European Union

US President Obama urged the EU to accept Turkey as a full member, saying that it would send a positive signal to the Muslim world. Speaking last week-end in Prague before his visit to Turkey, President Obama said the West should seek greater cooperation and closer ties with Islamic nations. However, French President Sarkozy said it was up to the EU member states to decide on Turkish entry and underlined his opposition. "I have always been opposed to this entry. Turkey is a very great country, an ally of Europe, an ally of the United States. It will stay a privileged partner. My position hasn't changed and it won't change," he said. The Europeans have been incensed at Turkey's opposition towards Anders Fogh Rasmussen- the Danish leader who defended his country's right to insult Islam. The Europeans accuse Turkey of using the issue to blackmail NATO into ceding important NATO posts.

Somalia pirates take on America

Somali pirates defied the might of the US military by refusing to release the captain of an American cargo ship kidnapped in a bungled hijack attempt. On April 8 2009, the pirates seized the Danish-owned 17,500-ton container ship as it carried food aid south past Somalia's coast en route to the Kenyan port of Mombasa. This is the first time that the pirates have targeted a ship with a American crew board. The US for sometime has been pressing members of the UN security council to pass a resolution that support a ground incursions into Somalia.It remains to be seen whether the US will use this incident to press ahead the UN resolution or take unilateral military action against Somalia.

Nuclear umbrella or nuclearization of the Middle East

The Obama administration should consider countering an Iranian threat by offering Middle East allies protection under a "nuclear umbrella," a United Arab Emirates official said, as the U.S. announced plans to join international talks with Iran. Clinton, now Obama's secretary of state, said during the April debate last year that Israel and Arab allies should be given "deterrent backing" by the U.S. and that "Iran must know that an attack on Israel will draw a massive response." The official made the remark soon after the UAE government agreed to stringent inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The UAE is expected to invest US$60 billion in atomic energy this year. The IAEA agreement with the UAE coincides with the US softening its attitude towards Iran and Ahmadinejad opening Iran's first nuclear production facility. Both developments come days after Obama called for an end to nuclear proliferation. The US nuclear stance on the Middle East suggests that she is more interested in the nuclearization of the region then either rolling back proliferation or establishing a nuclear umbrella.

America invites India to play a stronger role in Afghanistan

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Views on the News 2/4/09

  • Published in News & Comment
  •   |  

Brown's advisor: ‘UK population must fall to 30m'

Last week Jonathan Porritt, one of Gordon Brown's leading green advisers, is to warn that Britain must drastically reduce its population to 30m if it is to build a sustainable society. Porritt's call will come at this week's annual conference of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), of which he is patron. The trust will release research suggesting UK population must be cut to 30m if the country wants to feed itself sustainably. Porritt said: "Population growth, plus economic growth, is putting the world under terrible pressure. Each person in Britain has far more impact on the environment than those in developing countries so cutting our population is one way to reduce that impact." Britain's population is expected to grow from 61m now to 71m by 2031. It is the eradication of capitalism and not population reduction that will help Britain sustain its burgeoning population for the foreseeable future.

Czech Cardinal: Europe is headed for a Muslim future

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church says Europe must adopt Christian values and multiply otherwise Islam and Muslims will fill the vacuum. In the interview with a Czech publication, Vlk links the European Union's flag to Christian values. The flag consisting of twelve stars on a blue background was inspired by the Bible. He says there should be dialogue between Christians and Muslims but "in terms of culture and opinions Islam is medieval." "I do not want to sound negative... but in Islam a religion assumes the position of the state power and rules the people. Our European Christian experience proved that it is not the right way," said the Cardinal who argues that Christianity should be part of the EU constitution. He warns that Muslim population will increase considerably in Europe because of "the low fertility of Europeans the majority of whom are non-believers." The Cardinal said that "while European Muslims are living their religion, Europeans are pagans, as they do not respect their religion" and warns "if we do not restore Europe in terms of Christian values, we will surely die out."

Angola anxious about Islamic expansion

On March 31 Angop news agency reported that the Angolan Government is worried about the expansion of Islam and its consequences in the organisation and structures of the Angolan society. Addressing the deputies of the sixth commission of the National Assembly, who visited the facilities of the National Institute of Religious Studies (INAR), minister of Culture Rosa Cruz e Silva expressed concern about the growth and increase of number of followers of this religion in Angola. "Our worry has to do with the expansion of Islam and the consequences it may cause to the organisation and structure of the Angolan society", she said. In her turn, the National Institute for Religious Affairs (INAR), Fátima Viegas, said that it is in place a study to determine to what extent the Islam is ingrained in the Angolan society.

During Gaza massacre King Abdullah sends pet dog to Israel for treatment

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Iran wants to cooperate with America in a bid to stabilize Afghanistan

On March 31 at an international conference on Afghanistan at The Hague, in the Netherlands, the Iranian delegate, Mohammad Mehdi Akhundzadeh, responded positively to Barack Obama's new strategy for winning the war against the Taliban. Akhundzadeh said, "Welcoming the proposals for joint cooperation offered by the countries contributing to Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran is fully prepared to participate in the projects aimed at combating drug trafficking and plans in line with developing and reconstructing Afghanistan." He went on record to support aspects of Obama's strategy. He said," "The military expenses need to be redirected to the training of the Afghan police and army, and Afghanisation should lead the government-building process" - a clear reference towards the Obama administration's decision to send 4,000 more US military trainers.

Poll finds 63% Pakistanis believe US wants to divide Pakistan

A Press TV poll suggests Pakistan's political turmoil has been orchestrated by the US in an attempt to partition the nuclear-armed country. The opinion poll conducted by the Press TV website found that an overwhelming 63 percent of some 3,807 participants believe the "tension is an American scenario to partition Pakistan." A mere eighteen percent of the participants said the crisis stems from a power struggle between Pakistani politicians.

China continues to suppress its Muslim population

The official Xinhua News Agency earlier this month reported that Hotan authorities had launched a campaign against "illegal religious activity" at the end of February and "had already achieved some initial success." The News Agency said, "Officials uncovered some illegal religious activities, seized a large number of illegal books, handwritten materials, computer discs, audio tapes and other propaganda materials as well as bullets, fuses, explosive and flammable materials, and other weaponry." A secretary with Hotan's Communist Party Propaganda Department on Monday denied that any religious schools were closed, people arrested or bullets, explosives and other materials seized. But he confirmed that some illegal religious activity has been halted and illegal books, writings, computer discs and audio tapes had been confiscated. He refused to give his name or any more information and referred calls to other departments where the phone rang unanswered or officials said they were not authorized to speak to the media. The clampdown is consistent with previous efforts to target a resurgent Islam that the government says is fanning radical, violent separatism in Xinjiang. A year ago, several hundred Muslims staged a protest in Hotan that rights groups said was against a ban on women wearing headscarves but that the government said was incited by an overseas Islamic group.


By Preventing Hizb ut-Tahrir from Holding its Rally the Government has Proven that the Investigation of the BDR Massacre will be a Cover Up

Chief Coordinator and Official Spokesman of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Bangladesh Mohiuddin Ahmed condemned the government decision to stop the party from holding its rally against ‘the government's ploy to cover up the truth behind the BDR massacre through spurious investigation'.

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