“The Mosques are our barracks; the minarets our bayonets. The domes are our helms. The believers are our soldiers”
This was the Islamist poem quoted by the mayor of Siirt, Turkey in December 1997. Charged with using inflammatory speech, he was ejected from office and sentenced to jail by the Ankara High Court.
Today he is president [STET] of Turkey. During a decade in office, he has slowly but inexorably pushed secular Turkey, a member of NATO, toward an unabashedly Islamist future.
Only a few years ago, conservative “Islamophobes” would raise the call for “moderate Muslims”: where are you? why do you not protest? why are you silent on Osama Bin Laden and so many, too many, murderous acts against unarmed others whom you do not know?
Islamic humanism and pluralism, or perhaps I should put the “humanism and pluralism” first, restating all of a contemporary and thoughtful cast as “Humanist and Pluralist” (to be followed by cultural-ethnic-religious affiliation from “Atheist” to “Polytheist”).
One way or the other, we’re stuck with “us” — all of us — and we know that in the main “humanity of humanity” that we are not murderers and should not be so beset by those whom we know are exactly that and nothing much beyond.
He was given a ten-month prison sentence (of which he served less than four months, from 24 March 1999 to 27 July 1999) for reciting a poem in Siirt in December 1997, which, under article 312/2 of the Turkish penal code was regarded as an incitement to commit an offense and incitement to religious or racial hatred. It included verses translated as “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers….” The aforementioned verses, however, are not in the original version of the poem. The poem was from a work written by Ziya Gökalp, a pan-Turkish activist of the early 20th century. Erdoğan claimed the poem had been approved by the education ministry to be published in textbooks. With the conviction, Erdoğan was forced to give up his mayoral position. The conviction also stipulated a political ban, which prevented him from participating in parliamentary elections. He completed his sentence on 24 July 1999.
Note: Turkey’s current President is Abdullah Gül; Erdoğan serves as Prime Minister.
However, I say in full confidence and pride that the secular democracy and civic society that the U.S.A. has produced so far are still the healthiest on earth and the best available attempt to understand God’s pluralistic creation of humanity.
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