Monday, September 26, 2005

On Oct. 3, representatives of the European Union and the Turkish government of Islamist Recep Erdogan will meet to determine if Muslim Turkey will be allowed to seek full membership in the EU. It will be best for Turkey, to say nothing of Europe and the West more generally, if the EU answer under present circumstances is: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The reason Europe should politely, but firmly, reject Turkey’s bid should be clear: Prime Minister Erdogan is systematically turning his country from a Muslim secular democracy into an Islamofascist state governed by an ideology anathema to European values and freedoms.

Evidence of such an ominous transformation is not hard to find.

• Turkey is awash with billions of dollars in what is known as “green money,” apparently emanating from funds Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states withdrew from the United States after September 11, 2001. U.S. policymakers are concerned this unaccountable cash is laundered in Turkey, then used to finance businesses and generate new revenue streams for Islamofascist terrorism. At the very least, everything else on Mr. Erdogan’s Islamist agenda is lubricated by these resources.

• Turkey’s traditionally secular educational system is being steadily supplanted by madrassa-style “imam hatip” schools and other institutions where students are taught only the Koran and its interpretation according to the Islamofascists. The prime minister is himself an imam hatip school graduate and has championed lowering the age at which children can be subjected to their form of radical religious indoctrination from 12 years old to 4. And in 2005, experts expect 1,215,000 Turkish students to graduate from such schools.

• Products of such an education are ill-equipped to do much besides carrying out the Islamist program of Mr. Erdogan’s AKP Party. Tens of thousands are being given government jobs: Experienced, secular bureaucrats are replaced with ideologically reliable theo-apparatchiks; 4,000 others pack secular courts, transforming them into instruments of Shari’a religious law.

• As elsewhere, religious intolerance is a hallmark of Mr. Erdogan’s creeping Islamofascist putsch in Turkey. Roughly a third of the Turkish population is a minority known as Alevis. They observe a strain of Islam that retains some of the traditions of Turkey’s ancient religions. Islamist Sunnis like Mr. Erdogan and his Saudi Wahhabi sponsors regard the Alevis as “apostates” and “hypocrites” and subject them to increasing discrimination and intimidation. Other minorities, notably Turkey’s Jews, know they are likely next in line for such treatment — a far cry from the tolerance of the Ottoman era.

• In the name of internationally mandated “reform” of Turkey’s banking system, the government is seizing assets and operations of banks run by businessmen associated with the political opposition. It has gone so far as to defy successive rulings by Turkey’s supreme court disallowing one such expropriation. The AKP-dominated parliament has enacted legislation that allows even distant relatives of the owners to be prosecuted for alleged wrongdoing. Among the beneficiaries of such shakedowns have been so-called “Islamic banks” tied to Saudi Arabia, some of whose senior officers now hold top jobs in the Erdogan government.

• Grabbing assets — or threatening to do so — has allowed the government effectively to take control of the Turkish media, as well. Consolidation of the industry in hands friendly to (or at least cowed by) the Islamists and self-censorship of reporters, lest they depart from the party line, have essentially denied prominent outlets to any contrary views. The risks of deviating is clear from the recently announced prosecution of Turkey’s most acclaimed novelist, Orhan Parmuk, for “denigrating Turks and Turkey” by affirming in a Swiss publication allegations of past Turkish genocidal attacks on Kurds and Armenians.

• Among the consequences of Mr. Erdogan’s domination of the press has been an inflaming of Turkish public opinion against President Bush in particular and the United States more generally. Today, a novel describing a war between America and Turkey leading to the nuclear destruction of Washington is a runaway best-seller, even in the Turkish military.

• This data point perhaps indicates the Islamists’ progress toward also transforming the traditional guarantors of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s legacy of a secular, pro-Western Muslim state: Turkey’s armed forces. Matters have been worsened by Mr. Erdogan’s skillful manipulation of popular interest in the European bid to keep the military from serving as a control rod in Turkish politics.

At the very least, over time, the cumulative effect of having the conscript-based Turkish army obliged to fill its ranks with products of an increasingly Islamist-dominated educational system cannot be positive for either the Europeans or the Free World beyond. Especially as Mr. Erdogan seeks to put into effect what has been dubbed a “zero-problem” policy toward neighboring Iran and Syria, the military’s historical check on the gravitational pull toward Islamofascism is likely to recede.

Consequently, the EU’s representatives should not only put on ice any invitation to Turkey to join the European Union next week. They should make it clear the reason is Mr. Erdogan’s Islamist takeover: The prime minister is making Turkey ineligible for membership on the grounds that the AKP program will inevitably ruin his nation’s economy, radicalize its society and eliminate Ankara’s ability to play Turkey’s past, constructive role in the geographic “cockpit of history.”

It is to be hoped this meeting will serve one other purpose, as well: It should compel the Europeans to begin to address their own burgeoning problem with Islamofascism. Both Europe, Turkey and, for that matter, the rest of the world, need to find ways to empower moderate Muslims who oppose Islamists like Turkey’s Erdogan. Oct. 3 would be a good time to start.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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