Erdoğan, laid the groundwork for a sixth successive election victory in 2019
Okunma Sayısı : 675   
16.8.2017 00:00:00



Celebrating the AK Party's 16th anniversary in Ankara with a modest event, party chairman President Erdoğan, reiterated his call to party members to put Turkey and the party's interests first and work harder ahead of the 2019 elections


Nothing will ever be the same in Turkey from today onward," the leader of the recently founded party said on Aug. 14, 2001. The Turkish economy was crumbling at the time and politics had been long devoid of stability. Yet, the party was only slightly more than a year away from recording one of the most astonishing political triumphs in recent Turkish history. Addressing the nation in Ankara's historically symbolic district of Sincan exactly 16 years later, on a hot summer night, the chairman of that party, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, laid the groundwork for a sixth successive election victory in 2019.


The number of invitations for the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) 16th anniversary celebrations exceeded 6,000. Dozens of party veterans were also welcome. As they paraded through the crowd, ancient memories were revived. The likes of former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and former deputy prime ministers Bülent Arınç, Ali Babacan as well as Mehmet Ali Şahin, were all present at the ceremony as the party stoked the flames of a march toward the 2019 elections.


The crowd was packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the stands. The audience erupted in excitement as the well-known jingle for President Erdoğan, called Dombra, was played at full volume. Thousands of people chanted his name as Erdoğan sang along.


However, the president does not take people's love for him for granted. Well aware of the need to exceed the 50 percent threshold in the 2019 elections following the constitutional changes in April, Erdoğan has no intention of letting go of the grip.


Minutes before Erdoğan's speech, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım spoke of 11 million AK Party members. Echoing the statistic, the president made a historic appeal to his fellow voters. "Are you ready to double this in March 2019 and November 2019," he said, referring to the local elections and presidential elections that year.


Complacency within the party seems like President Erdoğan's most formidable foe. Though Turkish citizens have two long years before heading to the ballot boxes, he has already been traveling from district to district to address precious voters.


"We must get 50 percent plus one vote for the victory. Are we ready for this? … Are you in to go from door to door? Are we ready for this?" Erdoğan asked last week in the northern province of Giresun. He questioned his fellow party members' readiness and eagerness to exert more effort than ever to come through.


Deputies, mayors and party members from 81 provinces were all ears as the president bashed some of them for their arrogance. His message was clear: "Our path is clear if we are able to swallow our pride." He had another message: "What the AK Party brought to Turkey is of course very significant. However, no one should count himself responsible."


In his struggle against complacency and arrogance within the party, Erdoğan has even called on those who do not have enough willingness to work for the 2019 elections to step aside. "The party has undergone a lot of changes over the last 16 years, but this time we need a more radical change," he argued on Monday night.


The president concluded his speech as the clock nearly hit 10:30 p.m. Thousands of jubilant AK party supporters walked back home with the soothing thought in mind that Erdoğan is and will be in charge. That being said, he recognizes that many actors and elements must change if he is to be re-elected in 2019 with overwhelming support.


Daily Sabah

US: Emergency declared as clashes erupt at hate rally
Okunma Sayısı : 663   
13.8.2017 00:00:00



Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Saturday amid violent clashes between hundreds of white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville. 



Riot gear-clad police officers ordered protesters to disperse after clashes quickly escalated in the southern city's Emancipation Park. But as the climate calmed a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors, killing one and injuring several others. 


Mayor Michael Signer confirmed the fatality on Twitter, urging "all people of good will" to return home. 


It is unclear if the driver targeted the group or was involved in a traffic-related accident.


Video of the incident shows a car speeding down a narrow street filled with protesters before slamming into protesters and sending them ariborne, ultimately stopping only when it hit a line of cars. The driver then put the car in reverse and zoomed away.


It is unclear if the driver has been taken into custody. 


Speaking from his New Jersey golf club, President Donald Trump condemned "this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides".


White nationalists were protesting the looming removal of a Robert E. Lee monument from Emancipation Park.


Lee was the rebel confederacy's top general in America's civil war, and calls have grown for confederate symbols to be removed from public spaces after a series of violent attacks that have been tied to white nationalists/supremacists, which regularly use such imagery. 


On Friday night they marched through the University of Virginia campus holding torches in a scene reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan gatherings that haunted America's civil rights movement. 


“You will not replace us”, and “Jew will not replace us” were chanted as an eerie torchlight glow enveloped the campus. 


Former Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke attended the rally as well as other prominent white nationalist leaders. 


University President Teresa A. Sullivan strongly condemned the rally, saying in a statement she was "deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior displayed by torch-bearing protestors that marched on our Grounds".


The two-day protest is thought to be the largest recent gathering of white nationalists.


Activists have warned of an emboldening of the group since Trump won last year's presidential race. And hate incidents targeting minorities have soared this year. 



Turkey seeks return of Ottoman lands in Occupied East Jerusalem
Okunma Sayısı : 1317   
13.8.2017 00:00:00



In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel destroyed an 800-year-old neighbourhood that had belonged to the Ottoman Empire for centuries. Now Turkey wants that hotly contested land back, and is lobbying for regional support for the initiative.


ISTANBUL, Turkey — Maghariba, or Moroccan Quarter, was a centuries-old bustling neighbourhood in the heart of Jerusalem. That was until 1967. When the war broke out between Israel and Arab states, the Israeli army erased the entire area, knocking down houses and shops with bulldozers.


The 800-year-old neighbourhood existed next to the Western Wall, the last remains of the Temple of Solomon, in East Jerusalem. Israeli forces flattened it ruthlessly, turning the entire area into a prayer pavilion for Jewish worshippers.


Although the Maghariba neighbourhood has been largely forgotten by the Western world, it is remembered by Palestinians. The area’s history is equally well-remembered several thousand kilometres away, in Turkey.


In early May, the Turkish government hosted a two-day global conference to recall the role of the Ottoman Waqf, a charitable trust that ran properties under the Ottoman Empire. And the Maghariba was one of the Ottoman Waqf's possessions.


Palestinian Prime Minister Rami el Hamdallah, top government officials from Jordan and Morocco, along with Yousef bin Ahmad al Othaimeen, the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, attended the conference. Each speaker reproached Israel for trying to eradicate the Arab-Muslim identity of Old Jerusalem, and the rest of Palestine, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War.


The event was organised by the office of the Turkish presidency. In his address, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the original Jerusalem Waqf was founded in 1552 by Hurrem Sultan, the wife of the then Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and ever since it has "distributed food to the poor for centuries and continues to do so."


The remaining Jerusalem Waqf still oversees Al Aqsa mosque, and is today formally administered by Jordan.


“Waqfs have played a critical role in terms of preserving the Al Aqsa Mosque and our other mosques," Erdogan told those present.


The Turkish government is stepping up rhetoric to challenge Israel over its seizure and the dismantling of Waqf properties after the 1967 war.  "We will share our [Ottoman] registry records with our Palestinian brethren," Erdogan said.  


The conference was timed just a month ahead of the anniversary marking fifty years of Israeli occupation of those Palestinian lands it seized in 1967. The conference was focused on discussing ways to reclaim the lost Ottoman properties and handing them back to their true inheritors. Legally speaking, the properties belonged to the Ottomans, but their holders and occupants were Palestinian.


Before Israeli forces captured the wall, the neighbourhood was lively, with hundreds of Palestinian inhabitants. Two days after the raid, they were all forced out of their homes in the middle of the night.


Israel's military commander Yitzhak Rabin described the capture of the wall as "the great victory."


Then Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Dayan paid a visit to the wall on June 10, 1967. He justified the actions of Israeli military in biblical terms, "Today, we have reunited Jerusalem. We have returned to all that is holy in our land. We have returned, never to be parted from it again."


But three decades later, as Rabin, the military commander, became the country’s prime minister, he started a peace process between Palestinians and Israelis. He favoured the withdrawal of Israeli troops from certain Palestinian territories, a position that triggered a backlash from the far-right.


Rabin signed the ill-fated Oslo Accords in 1993. He was assassinated two years later by Yigal Amir, a right-wing Israeli activist. Israel's far-right strongly opposed Rabin's plan to free the Occupied Territories. Benjamin Netanyahu, now the country's prime minister, was part of the anti-Rabin movement — part of the ever rightward drift of Israeli politics.


With Rabin's killing, the peace process failed, as did the political will to return Palestinian properties to Palestinians.


But the return of the Western Wall was out of question even for a moderate leader like Rabin. He believed that Israel should always maintain a tight grip over the wall and the area around it.


Now Turkey's initiative to initiate dialogue over the Ottoman Waqf, and its land and building rights in Occupied Palestine, comes at a time when Israel has the most right-wing government in its history.


What is the origin of Turkey's claim on Maghariba?


The neighbourhood was named as Maghariba, which is plural of Magharib, meaning the Westerners in Arabic, after the soldiers from North Africa and the south of Spain who were first settled there. Sultan Saladin Ayyubi rewarded them for having participated in the conquest of Jerusalem and Palestine with parcels of land and properties around the Western Wall in the 12th century.


The neighbourhood was further developed by Saladin's son, Al Afdal  Ali. It was declared as a property of the waqf, a non-transferable charitable trust under Islamic law. The institution of waqf was designed to legally maintain areas as a public good in Islamic law, preventing the transfer of ownership or privatisation.


After the Ayyubids, the ownership of Jerusalem passed to several successive Muslim states, including the Mamluks and, finally, the Ottomans. Jerusalem’s waqfs were continued by each of these regimes. A commission established in 1929 by the occupying British government and approved by the League of Nations, reached the conclusion that the entire neighbourhood, including the Western Wall, was solely owned by the same Waqf.  


Yasser Arafat, co-founder and longtime leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), who notably led the Palestinian delegation during the negotiations for the Oslo Accords, repeatedly referred to this international commission to prove Palestinians historic claim to Old Jerusalem, including the area around the wall.


The residents of the Maghariba neighbourhood had lived a peaceful existence for centuries, until the British occupied Palestine in 1917. The Balfour Declaration favoured “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." With the British occupation, more and more Jews settled in Jerusalem, and their presence started to grow around the Western Wall too.


It wasn’t long before unofficial secretive talks on Zionist aspirations to take control of the wall, its adjacent pavement and more significantly, Maghariba itself, began between the British authorities and Jewish leaders. During the late 1920s, violent skirmishes between Palestinians and Jews broke out.


In 1948, the First Arab-Israeli War led to the formation of Israel as a separate country in Palestine. At this point, however, East Jerusalem — including the wall and the Maghariba neighbourhood — remained under Jordanian rule.


“1967 is the date when an 800-year-old neighbourhood, which was not only a monument of Islamic heritage but also a monument of world heritage, was destroyed with the annexation of Jerusalem by Israel. The Israelis showed no respect for either international or waqf law,” said Hasan Huseyin Gunes, a history professor at Bartin University.


Gunes’ doctoral thesis was on the history of the Maghariba neighbourhood and since then, he has worked on the Ottoman Waqf, examining historic records.


“There were two old schools inside the neighbourhood. They were the Fakhriya Madrasa and the Afdiliyeh Madrasa, which was founded by Al Afdal, Saladin’s son and heir,” Gunes explained.


The Afdiliyeh Madrasa, one of the rare Islamic schools which dates back to Saladin's time, along with the Sheikh Eid Mosque, were levelled to the ground right after the capture of the wall in 1967. In the next two years, Israelis bulldozed the rest of the neighbourhood along with the remnants of Fakhriya.


Forever reliving the trauma


Sheikh Abdulhak, a 75-year-old Palestinian man, witnessed the entire demolition drive. Gunes interviewed Abdulhak in 2012 to learn about what had happened on the night when Israel began dismantling the area. After his house was flattened, Abdulhak ended up being forced from many other houses, in round after round of demolitions.


“In total, he was forced out from five different houses [in different locations in Jerusalem] all of which were demolished by Israeli authorities," Gunes told TRT World.  "Most of the court documents concerning the demolished neighbourhood were also lost during his moves.”


When Gunes met him, Abdulhak lived in a tiny, two-room apartment, a few minutes away away from the Islamic holy site known as Haram al Sharif, or Temple Mount — which remains under the control of a Waqf. There were cameras installed outside his house. Gunes said, giving him the impression that the elderly man was under Israeli government surveillance.


His house was so small that its rooms didn't even have shelves. "In one room, all the documents were randomly piled in one corner," Gunes said.


Abdulhak was a visibly tired man when Gunes saw him first. But as they spoke, Gunes was impressed to see his stern dedication towards the cause of winning back the property rights of the people who once lived in the Maghariba neighbourhood.


He had attempted multiple times to take the case before the Israeli courts but hasn't yet had any success.


"As he walked around his old neighbourhood, all of his bad memories came back," Gunes said. "Everyday, he lives with those scenes of destruction; how his family was forced out of the neighbourhood … and the destruction of their cultural heritage."


Israeli “pride”


Yet for the Israelis who demolished the whole neighbourhood with their bulldozers, it was a proud moment. They believe that their actions were righteous, even after 50 years.


The Israeli government had dispatched 15 contractors to destroy houses that fateful night, according to an article published in June by Haaretz, a left-leaning Israeli newspaper. The newspaper recently interviewed some of them to figure out “how a small group of Israelis made the Western Wall Jewish again.”


“I was sky-high, it was a pleasure,” Sasson Levy, one of the contractors, told Haaretz when he was asked to describe how he felt as he was razing the historic buildings.


Yosef Schwartz, another contractor, who is dead now, took pride in demolishing the houses because “he felt that he was carrying out a great mission for the Jewish people,” according to his daughter, Zehava Fuchs.


“No written documents remain concerning the decision, except for a hand-drawn map on a piece of paper that marked the boundaries of the area to be demolished,” the author writes.


Yet whoever gave the command, in practise the demolition operation was overseen by Theodor “Teddy” Kollek, who was mayor of West Jerusalem from 1965 to 1967, and then of “unified” Jerusalem until 1993.


“It was the greatest thing we could do and it is good we did it immediately,” commented Kollek, despite being lauded by many as representing the more “liberal” face of Zionism.


Israeli demolition drives were not limited to the Ottoman properties. Knesset, a neighbourhood where the Israeli parliament and the residences of the country’s president and prime minister are now built, was a property formerly belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.

A new door opens


Yet there are some occasions when the Israeli government returned land.


During the Soviet era, Israel bought the properties that had belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church properties from the communist Khrushchev government in exchange for oranges.


Since 2005, however, the Russians refuted the legality of that deal. Following President Vladimir Putin’s first visit to Jerusalem, the Russian government made a legal and diplomatic bid to reclaim Saint Sergius Church and its lands, where the offices of Israel's agriculture ministry and other government agencies are currently built. Israel agreed in 2010 to return the property to the Russians.


Since the Israeli government agreed to return the Russian properties, it has opened the window for others to reclaim their properties — a prospect about which many Israeli politicians are hardly happy.


"I believe that this move represents a dangerous precedent of transferring properties in the heart of Jerusalem and is in violation of the city's interest, since this is not the only property being contested by foreign sources," said Nir Barkat, one of the mayoral candidates for Jerusalem, in 2008.


One of those “sources” could be Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire. It won’t come easily, however.


“When I have raised these property and Ottoman waqf issues in Jerusalem [and at large in Palestine], many people say that we cannot get any kind of tangible legal results under current Israeli justice system,” Gunes said.


“But I tell them that it should not prevent us from making the necessary legal and political preparations. When we have enough leverage and power, at the right time, we could go ahead and make our case at the national and international levels to get back our properties in the Holy Land.”


The sentiment rings strongly in Turkish bureaucracy. 


“We want to initiate an academic discourse on this particular subject,” Adnan Tuzen, one of the top officials in Turkey’s Directorate General of Foundations, told TRT World. The erasure of Ottoman properties from Palestine is etched deeply in Turkey's institutional memory — and that is something which the Turkish government won’t forget, he said.


Turkey and regional stability: Weaving the past's moral hinterland with today's realpolitik
Okunma Sayısı : 768   
10.8.2017 00:00:00





When we look at the broad spectrum of factors that drive either hostility or cooperation between Middle Eastern countries, we can see a common thread of thematic issues that crop up time and again across all of their relations: foreign military bases, border disputes, sectarian favorites, sectarian fears, proxies and differing relations of patronage between the United States and Russia. Notably, Turkey is the one country that does not fit into this seamless web of factors that determine relations between the countries in the region.


As a NATO member, it has a strategic relationship both with its NATO allies and the U.S., but as a regional power it also has a pragmatic realpolitik relationship with Russia and to some extent Iran, especially regarding Syria at the Astana talks. As a former imperial power in the region, it has a knowledge of its history and the factors that shaped it, although it does not share the common trauma of uncertain borders drawn by outsiders and the creation of nation-states out of tribal realities.



Throughout the modern history of the Middle East, outside players, most notably the U.S., have tried to weave a course that serves their regional and global interests the best amid a ceaselessly changing landscape colored by age old feuds, changing societies and uncertain borders. It has to a large extent been a futile attempt, much like attempting to create neatly compartmentalized pockets in a desert of ever changing sand dunes. Yet the mistakes of the past are being repeated because of a lack of vision to guide policy insight. What the U.S. is attempting looks like a strategy, yet it is nothing more than a series of disjointed tactical moves, ranging from arming a terrorist group, the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Protection Units (YPG), which are offshoots of the PKK, recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU.



Struggle with regional turmoil



Turkey, on the other hand, has been steering through the several crises of the region, by managing relations on three fronts: Global powers, regional powers, local actors and international forums. As if being previously rife with changing landscapes and age-old feuds were not enough, the region is now gripped with a storm of change. The fallout from waning U.S. interest in the region, the Arab uprisings, former U.S. President Barack Obama's administration's nuclear deal with Iran, Iran's subsequent efforts to increase its influence, the rise of China and the Syrian war and the ongoing instability in Iraq have all contributed to kneejerk reactions to these changes. The most notable manifestation of these reactions has been the recent Qatar crisis, fueled by an increasingly alarmed Saudi Arabia and its close allies.



In the midst of this storm, Turkey balances its realpolitik, state-to-state relations with its soft power of reaching out to what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calls Turkey's "moral hinterland." In fact, Turkey is the only country in the region that can pursue both policies in tandem. The recent Qatar crisis is a good example of this. At the inter-state level of diplomacy Turkey has kept its realpolitik outlook in trying to mediate between all parties, and supporting Kuwait's mediation efforts. It has also not backed down from proceeding with deployments to a military base in the Qatari capital, Doha, agreed to over a year ago. At the "moral hinterland" level, Turkey has signaled its determination to stand by the Qataris by stepping up food exports and other necessities to alleviate the effects of the blockade while asking Saudi Arabia and its allies to behave in accordance with Islamic traditions of mercy and understanding during the holy month of Ramadan.


In fact, Turkey is supported by a robust infrastructure of aid and humanitarian relief agencies in pursuing its moral hinterland policy. The Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB), the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) and the Turkish Red Crescent are among the main actors in providing aid and humanitarian relief in Syria, Iraq and Somalia, among other places throughout the world, as well as taking care of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees within Turkey.



"Moral hinterland" refers to Turkey's historically shaped relations with the peoples of the region, embedded in responsibility and cultural and religious affinity. This is not to be mistaken with irredentism. These are invisible borders based on age-old understandings between people and societies, much more intertwined and intricate than can be clearly discerned with a naked Western eye. In terms of realpolitik, Turkey's relations with global and regional powers are kept separate from its moral hinterland. Take Russia, although at odds with Turkey over Syria with regards to the Assad regime, and despite a year long rift after the accidental downing of a Russian jet, Turkish-Russian relations have reached a new, heightened cooperation in Syria with the Astana talks and the agreement to create de-confliction zones in cooperation with Iran.



Bilateral cooperation is further strengthened with the Turkish Stream project, a pipeline that will carry Russian gas to Europe through Turkey, and the nearing possibility of Turkey purchasing the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, much to the chagrin of its NATO allies, who were not able to offer a satisfactory solution to Turkey's needs in this area. Relations with China are also on a new par because of the significant projects such as various tunnels, bridges and railway routes Turkey has integrated itself with and is set to be a natural hub of China's One Belt One Road initiative.


Relations with the EU, meanwhile, may have become strained, but both Turkey and the EU know that the future has to ensure some kind of relationship where both parties can at least discuss and collaborate on the wide-ranging issues governing their mutual security and economic relations. This is more than likely to evolve into a strategic dialogue as envisaged in the 12-month roadmap, which is not confined to the acceptance/rejection impasse of membership talks.



Turkey's ties with the United States



When it comes to relations with the U.S., both Turkey and the U.S. need each other in managing change in the region. Despite serious divergences in interests, President Donald Trump's administration has gone out of its way to assure Ankara that the support given to the YPG for the Raqqa operation is tactical and not strategic and that it is Turkey, its NATO ally, that it wants to work with on the broader strategy of mapping the future of Syria. The use of Turkey's İncirlik Air Base by the U.S. and several NATO allies in the coalition against the Daesh terrorist group is also an important factor that makes Turkey an indispensable NATO ally, in the region.



Turkey's expertise as a NATO ally is also indispensable for post-conflict reconstruction in Syria. Turkey has a long-standing success story in peace building with its role in NATO's Afghanistan mission, taking command of the NATO force twice in that country. Turkey's successful non-combat role in that mission earned the trust, respect and love of the Afghan people, a rare source of legitimacy these days in a predominantly Western-driven mission of military intervention.



This does not mean that Turkey does not have an equally successful track record in combat roles for securing stability in the region. Operation Euphrates Shield, which commenced in August 2016 and ended in early 2017, has cleared 2,500 square kilometers of territory from Daesh, creating a pocket of stability and safety for the return of refugees.



Therefore, as a balancer of realpolitik diplomacy and with the infrastructure for effective deliverance of humanitarian aid as part of its moral hinterland policy, an active player in all international forums dealing with peace and stability in Syria, as well as a track record of successful combat and non-combat peace building missions, Turkey is best suited to provide stability through its various endeavors in a region that badly needs all the help it can get.



Senior adviser to the president of the Republic of Turkey and a professor of international relations at Yıldız Technical University


Daily Sabah

Turkey pledges to ensure the safety of tourists with reinforced tourism police forces.
Okunma Sayısı : 784   
9.8.2017 00:00:00


Istanbul is a city, which once hosted 12 million tourists a year, but those numbers have dropped. 


In an effort to revive the tourism sector, the city’s police department has expanded its tourism police forces to a large margin to ensure the safety and comfort of visitors. 



At Istanbul’s main international airport, with their bright orange vests and speedy segways, the tourism police officers are out in full force, making themselves known to arriving guests.


News Galata

Russia’s sale of S-400 to Turkey is making the US uncomfortable. Why?
Okunma Sayısı : 1728   
6.8.2017 00:00:00


For a year now, Ankara has been negotiating with Moscow to the S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system. Russia’s sale of S-400 to Turkey is making the US uncomfortable. Why? 



Education minister loses fight against Amsterdam Islamic high school
Okunma Sayısı : 1464   
27.7.2017 00:00:00

The Netherlands’ highest administrative court on Wednesday ordered the education ministry to fund a second Islamic high school in the Netherlands. 



The Council of State ruled that junior education minister Sander Dekker must provide funding for the school, which the Amsterdam Islamic education foundation SIO wants to set up. 


State-funded faith schools are sanctioned in the Netherlands under freedom of education rules, if they have sufficient pupils and meet the proper standards. 


Photo Haber Galata

Dekker refused to allocate funding for the school last year, because a board member who has since left, is alleged to have shown support for IS on Facebook. ‘We cannot use taxpayers’ money to support a school where children learn to reject the Netherlands rather than become part of it,’ the minister said at the time. 


The court ruled on Wednesday that the minister’s fear children may be exposed to pro-IS ideas were not properly grounded and that there is no reason to assume the school would not meet the conditions for state funding. The SIO has distanced itself from the comments as well as extremism and terrorism, the court said in its ruling. 


Amsterdam city council initially refused to allocate a suitable location to the school after Dekker withdrew funding but has since set aside a piece of land in Sloterdijk after being ordered to do so by judges in 2015. 


The SIO was given permission by the government to set up the school in 2011 and has to complete the process within six years, meaning the school should open for pupils this September. has contacted SIO for comment. 


There has not been an Islamic secondary school in Amsterdam since 2010, when the one school was closed for poor standards. 


There is one Islamic secondary school in Rotterdam and several dozen primary schools nationwide. 


Turkish school Meanwhile, Turkish organisation Millî Görüş has said it is working on plans to open the first Iman Hatip school in the Netherlands. ‘Our education arm was asked to open a Iman Hatip school and we have decided to work on this,’ the statement said. ‘Sign-ups and all other procedures will proceed via the website of the Turkish ministry of education.


Iman Hatip schools are religious vocational schools and one of four types of secondary education offered in Turkey. Turkish media first reported in 2012 that there were plans to set up Iman Hatip schools in the Netherlands. 


Turkish media have also reported on the new plan. It is not clear if there is a connection between the Millî Görüş plans and the SIO school. has approached Millî Görüş for comment.

Istanbul to get environmentally friendly electric taxis for first time
Okunma Sayısı : 761   
27.7.2017 00:00:00


In light of pressing issues such as climate change and air pollution, Istanbul unveiled its first electric taxis on Friday morning.



Three electric taxis will hit the streets of Istanbul this week, with around 500-600 more cabs planned to enter service by the end of 2017.

Beyoğlu Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan attended the event to learn about the new vehicles at a meeting of the Chamber of Istanbul Taxi Drivers in Taksim Square.

Noting that the city needs more environmentally-friendly vehicles, Demircan said, "It's clear that the mankind needs vehicles that are more sustainable, more sensitive to the environment and less polluting in the world. It's beautiful that Turkish taxi drivers have such sensitivity to this issue."

After learning more about the vehicles from the drivers present at the ceremony, Demircan made a quick tour of the square in one of the electric taxis.

Sales representative Viacheslav Luchnykov explained that the taxis can travel 300 kilometers on a fully charged battery, with a top speed of 140 kilometers per hour.

Noting that the vehicles' slim profile and spacious interior make them ideal for the roads and traffic of Istanbul, Luchnykov added that they have made special discounts for the prices.

"We prepared a package deal that includes everything for the drivers." Luchnykov said, adding that the exclusive deal allows drivers to make monthly payments and enables them to benefit from the periodic maintenance of the vehicle, charge stations, motor insurance and roadside assistance.

EU, Turkey reflect on high-level meeting
Okunma Sayısı : 748   
26.7.2017 00:00:00
Erdogan urges 'immediate' end to Al-Aqsa restrictions
Okunma Sayısı : 228   
23.7.2017 00:00:00

Turkish president condemns use of excessive force at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa compound by Israeli forces

Turkey’s President Erdogan on Saturday called for an immediate end to Israel’s new restrictions at the compound of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.


"Metal detectors and other restrictions should be immediately lifted and returned to the status quo. Everyone should be guard against provocations at this sensitive time," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a written statement.


“As the summit term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], I call for the international community to act to immediate end practices that restrict freedom of worship.”


Erdogan said that Israel shutting down the Al-Aqsa compound last week for three days, and then imposing new restrictions -- including placing metal detectors at the entrance -- and citing the deadly July 14 shootout to justify this, is "unacceptable."


"As OIC Term President, I condemn Israeli forces’ use of excess force on our brothers gathered for Friday prayer, the Friday prayer not being allowed in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and Israel’s persistence in its attitude despite all warnings," he said.


Erdogan added: "I wish Allah's mercy upon our three brothers who lost their lives” in yesterday’s violence.


He also wished a speedy recovery to the hundreds of wounded, saying that Turkey is against every type of violence.


He called on Israel to respect the holiness and historical status of the Al-Aqsa compound, saying this is its legal duty.


Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag also reacted Israeli restrictions on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on his official Twitter account, condemning Israeli government's "disrespect to Muslims' place of worship".


Bozdag said Islamic countries must be united against Israeli government's "unjust, disrespectful and unlawful" attitudes.


The restrictions and obstacles Israeli government imposed on all Muslims, particularly on Palestinians, can never be tolerated, Bozdag said.


He went on to say that international community and organizations should also say ''stop'' to Israeli government's disrespectful and aggressive attitude.


Anger over restrictions

Anger has spilled over across the West Bank since last week when Israel shut the Al-Aqsa Mosque, revered by both Muslims and Jews, who call it Temple Mount, following a deadly shootout.


The mosque was reopened after a two-day closure, with Israel installing metal detectors at the mosque gates, which Palestinians say aim to change the status quo -- a delicate balance of prayer and visiting rights.


Israel, for its part, has refused to remove the detectors, claiming the security measures are similar to procedures taken at other holy sites around the world.


Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.

It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming all of Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s "eternal" capital -- a move never recognized by the international community.


Sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians, Jerusalem is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which for Muslims represents the world's third-holiest site.


Erdogan, Macron discuss Al-Aqsa, Gulf row

Separately, Erdogan had a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron, presidential sources said on Saturday.


The two leaders voiced their concerns over the restrictions at Al-Aqsa as well as tension due to the losses of life.


Erdogan and Macron agreed to work together to ensure peace and resolve the problem, added the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.


The two leaders also discussed the ongoing Gulf crisis ahead of Erdogan’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar beginning tomorrow.


They said the problem would be solved through dialogue and discussions.

Last month Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a sea and land blockade while accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.


Doha denies the accusation, calling the blockade a violation of international law.


Turkey has asked Saudi Arabia, as the strongest country in the region, not to allow the crisis to grow into an even bigger one.



As Israel tightens measures around Al Aqsa and tensions rise, here’s a summary of how Palestinians lost their lands when the state of Israel was established.
Okunma Sayısı : 662   
22.7.2017 00:00:00



The Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem is at the heart of the decades-long Israeli-Arab conflict. Here's why it matters:




Turks took to the streets on the 'Day of Rage' in support of Palestinians demonstrating against Israel's new security measures at Al Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem.


Bosnia bids farewell to 23 more war victims
Okunma Sayısı : 716   
21.7.2017 00:00:00

The remains of 23 Bosniaks killed by Serb forces in the northwestern Bosnian town of Prijedor in 1992 were buried on Thursday.

A collective funeral saw relatives of the victims and a large number of citizens gather at the Poljana Stadium near Prijedor.

President of the Islamic Community in Croatia, Aziz Hasanovic, told mourners the second-largest massacre during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War was in Prijedor, adding the international community had preferred to close its eyes.

More than 5,200 Bosniaks -- including 4,093 civilians -- were killed, according to Bosnia’s Missing Persons Institute.

Around 2,000 victims have been located and identified so far in 100 mass graves in Prijedor and surrounding areas. The bodies of 777 victims of the massacre have yet to be found.

Mayor of Prijedor Milenko Djakovic, a Serb, also participated in Thursday’s funeral.

Speaking at the ceremony, Djakovic said he attended for people to live in peace and harmony in Prijedor.

Eighteen-year-old Ifet Vojnikovic was the youngest victim to be buried at this year's funeral, while Sefir Hegic, 72, was the oldest.

After funeral prayers, the 23 victims were buried in village cemeteries.

Prijedor was the site of numerous war crimes carried out against Bosniak civilians by Bosnian Serb forces during the war.

Between April 1992 and December 1995, an estimated 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million displaced in Bosnia. Up to 50,000 women, mostly Bosniak, were raped.

The Bosnian War was sparked by the break-up of Yugoslavia, which led Bosnia to declare its independence in February 1992.

Its capital Sarajevo came under attack from Bosnian Serb militias, backed by the Yugoslav army, in what became the longest siege in modern history.

Germany's new approach to Turkey 'out of question'
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21.7.2017 00:00:00

The spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday condemned Germany’s decision to toughen its stance on Turkey.

In televised remarks, Ibrahim Kalin commented on Berlin’s decision to reset relations with Turkey, including warning its citizens and companies about visiting or investing in the country.

“It is out of the question,” Kalin said, referring to German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s claims that German nationals risked arrest if traveling to Turkey. “We strongly condemn it.”

On Thursday, German opposition lawmakers sought a tougher approach to Turkey following the arrests of German citizens for allegedly supporting terrorist organizations.

Kalin, speaking at a news conference in Ankara, said Germany’s new position was dictated by domestic politics, with elections due in September.

“We believe those unfortunate remarks are investments for internal politics in the upcoming elections in Germany,” he told journalists.

The spokesman added that Germany was a key trade partner for Turkey. “Has there been any investigation so far into a German company in Turkey?” he asked.

Promising that Turkey would not allow “efforts to overshadow economic relations” for political reasons, he added: “Bringing doubt into the minds of German investors in Turkey is unacceptable.”

Kalin also addressed rising tensions in Jerusalem, where heightened security measures around Al-Aqsa Mosque have led to clashes between Israeli security forces and Muslim worshippers.

“We have great concerns,” he said, stressing that such purported security or counter-terrorism restrictions were “unacceptable”.

Referring to Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, who was injured by a plastic bullet on Tuesday as police dispersed worshippers, Kalin added: “It is inhuman. They just want to pray in their holy place.”

He underlined that the mosque -- the third holiest site in Islam -- was not the “property of Israel”.


- US terror report

The spokesman also criticized a recent U.S. State Department report on terrorism that mentioned the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which Turkey holds responsible for last year’s defeated coup, but failed to explain the group.

“We care about it,” he said. “However, we should say the report fails in explaining FETO's nature.”

According to the U.S. Country Reports on Terrorism: “Turkey’s National Security Council designated the religious movement of self-exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen a terrorist organization on May 26, referring to it as the ‘Fethullah Terrorist Organization’ (‘FETO’).

"The government asserts that the Gulen movement planned and led the July 15 coup attempt, which killed more than 240 people and injured more than 2,100 people, and included attacks on the parliament.

“The government instituted a three-month state of emergency on July 21, subsequently extending it another three months on Oct. 19.

“According to government sources, as of Nov. 22, more than 86,000 civil servants were dismissed from public service via government-issued state of emergency decrees following the coup attempt for their alleged affiliation with, or support of, ‘FETO’.

“As of Oct. 8, authorities had arrested nearly 35,000 suspects on charges related to Gulen affiliation. The Gulf Cooperation Council designated ‘FETO’ a terrorist organization on Oct. 13. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation did the same on Oct. 19.”

Ankara has accused FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen of having plotted the coup attempt, which martyred 250 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.

FETO is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

Kalin reiterated Turkey's expectation that the U.S. and European countries would extradite FETO members, including Gulen.

Erdogan will begin a tour of Gulf nations on Sunday, his spokesman added, meeting the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

Pointing to Turkey's efforts to find a solution to the crisis between Qatar and neighboring states, he said the “constructive roles of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are significant.”

'Israeli restrictions at Al-Aqsa unacceptable'
Okunma Sayısı : 1302   
21.7.2017 00:00:00

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday discussed growing tensions in Jerusalem with Palestinian and Israeli presidents, following the new Israeli restrictions on Palestinians' entry into Al-Aqsa Mosque.



Erdogan called President Mahmoud Abbas early Thursday morning, according to sources from the Turkish president’s office, and expressed his concerns to his Palestinian counterpart

"Any restriction on Muslims entering Al-Aqsa Mosque is unacceptable," Erdogan said. "The protection of the Islamic character and sanctity of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] and Al-Haram al-Sharif [Al-Aqsa Mosque complex] is important for the whole Muslim world."

Israeli authorities closed down the Al-Aqsa compound and cancelled the weekly Friday prayers for the first time in nearly five decades, following a shootout last week that left three Palestinians and two Israeli policemen dead near the flashpoint holy site in East Jerusalem.

Palestinian news agency WAFA said that during the phone call, Abbas asked Erdogan to request the U.S. to put pressure on Israel, so that it backs down from its latest restriction on Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

Erdogan later called Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and expressed regret over the loss of life during the incident, according to presidential sources. 

He told Rivlin that Muslims should be able to enter Al-Aqsa without any restrictions, within the framework of freedom of religion and worship.

Rivlin said the measures were put in place for security purposes and assured Erdogan that there would be no change in the status of Haram al-Sharif and that religious freedoms would not be restricted.

On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers wounded nine Palestinians and arrested four others during protests against the closure.

Protests began on Sunday after the mosque's leadership called on worshipers to boycott new metal detectors installed at the mosque's entrances. 

Israel has defended the move, claiming they were no different from security measures at other holy sites around the world. 

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming all of Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s "eternal" capital -- a move never recognized by the international community. 

Sacred to Muslims, Jews, and Christians, Jerusalem is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which for Muslims represents the world's third holiest site.

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