Turkish leaders have not been wise in their use of the argument of Islamophobia both as a reason for and possible consequence of recent attacks in Paris, because as a result, they have put themselves in a position where they are indirectly justifying the attacks, according to this week’s guest for Monday Talk.
“I could understand the use of this concept if Turkish officials had used it to underline the class problems, economic discrimination and social exclusion of Muslims in France. But that is not the case. They use the concept to condemn criticism of Islam, and consequently, they indirectly justify these attacks,” said Samim Akgönül, a political scientist and historian teaching at Strasbourg University’s International Relations and Turkish Studies Department, in France.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has lashed out at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for its « provocative » publications about Islam, saying the weekly paper incites hatred and racism.
A total of 17 people, including journalists and police officers, died on Jan. 7 in the assault on the magazine’s office in Paris and in a bloody hostage situation at a kosher supermarket two days later.
In solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily published a four-page pull-out, translated into Turkish, that included some Charlie Hebdo cartoons. The paper chose not to publish a cartoon that was on the cover of Charlie Hebdo depicting Prophet Muhammad, but two writers put the cartoon in their columns. That prompted prosecutors to open an investigation into those commentators.
Leaders from Pakistan and Turkey joined Afghanistan’s Taliban militant group in condemning Charlie Hebdo’s decision to caricature Prophet Muhammad on its first magazine cover after the terrorist attack. “If someone is printing a cartoon insulting the prophet, that is [considered] a provocation,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said.
Today’s Zaman asked Akgönül what Charlie Hebdo represents and what the attack on it means for France and Europe, and why the Turkish government’s approach to the issue is problematic considering that Turkey is a founding member of the Council of Europe (CoE).
Could you tell us about Charlie Hebdo? How would you describe its approach?