Δευτέρα, 30 Μαρτίου 2015
Turkish media extensively covered the story of 19-year-old Suleyman Bengi crossing the border to Syria and joining the Islamic State (IS). Suleyman, a freshman dentistry student at a prominent Ankara university and son of an academic, took along with him his 16-year-old twin brothers Dilar and Dilsat. Everyone is asking what could have motivated a young man from a well-to-do, educated family to embark on such an adventure.
Summary⎙ Print Young Turks are increasingly attracted to the Islamic State's radical doctrines, believing their own country's brand of political Islam to be superficial, yet the Turkish government remains unconcerned with the increasing radicalization.
Suleyman’s family lives in Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey. His father is a faculty member of Dicle University's mining engineering department. His mother is a civil servant. Their financial situation is comfortable.
Al-Monitor spoke with Suleyman's friends at the student hostel in Ankara’s Cebeci district where he lived. We learned that when Suleyman arrived at the hostel a year ago, he was already devoutly religious and prayed regularly. Suleyman's hostel mates described him as a loner who appeared to not want to be friends with anyone and never participated in common activities. They said they noticed a change in Suleyman after he began to visit a bookshop in the Cebeci district. He then started lifting weights in the hostel gym. One time, he told the others in the gym to play religious hymns, not music, and actually started a fight over it. His clothing style also changed. He tried to take some of his friends to the bookshop but couldn’t persuade them.
A hostel mate said, “This was his first year. If his parents had been with him, they could have noticed the change in him.”
When Al-Monitor asked why they didn’t report the changes they observed in Suleyman to the hostel management or his professors, they replied: “We actually noticed the change in Suleyman. But we didn’t know who to report to. There is no phone number, no expert or an office that could help us.”
Suleyman kept in close contact via social media with his twin brothers, Dilar and Dilsat, who attended different high schools in Diyarbakir. It is likely that Suleyman radicalized his brothers through their social media correspondence and persuaded them to go to Syria. Schoolmates of the twins said they were good students but that they kept to themselves.
Upon hearing that his three sons had gone to Syria to join IS, M. Sefik said, "We taught them how to love people. How they came to this point is a mystery to us."
Hundreds of mothers and fathers in Turkey are speaking those very words. According to official figures, about 2,500 individuals have traveled from Turkey to Iraq and Syria to join IS. About 800 even took their families with them. According to security experts Al-Monitor spoke to in Ankara, the reality on the ground is much more worrisome. One source, who did not want to be identified, said 5,000 Turks have crossed. Another source said, "The real problem is not the ones who go to Syria and Iraq to fight, but those who are radicalized and stay here. They [number] in the thousands.”
What is the dynamic that leads Turkish youth to follow Salafist currents? One explanation is political. A leading ideologue of the political Islamic movement in Turkey spoke with Al-Monitor on the issue, preferring to remain anonymous out of fear of possible pressure. He said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) polluted political Islam and turned it into a current that cannot be questioned. The new generation of Islamist youth turn to Salafist currents because it gives them the power of protest.
The source pointed out that his choosing to remain anonymous is indicative of how the government has disfigured the country's Islamist movements. He said, "There is no reasonable criticism of Islam within the AKP government. Their relations with the masses are not democratic." He then made an important point: "These youngsters are not going to IS as a reaction to secularists in Turkey. To the contrary, they see how political Islam in Turkey is decayed and not honest. IS promises these kids authentic, honest comradeship. Islamist youth in Turkey have a problem expressing themselves. They have to find a way to join society. It is this reaction that makes IS attractive to these youngsters."
Professor Clark McCauley of Bryn Mawr College in the United States, who studies political radicalization, told Al-Monitor via email that he believes that “the first thing to notice is the blend of motives, in which emotion and personal circumstances are as important as political opinion about IS.”
McCauley highlighted that some personal factors can be categorized as mechanisms of radicalization, including those identified by himself and Sophia Moskalenko:
- Political grievances: Individuals are outraged by Western indifference to the plight of Sunni Muslims suffering at the hands of Shiites in Iraq and Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite-minority government in Syria.
- Personal grievances: Even educated, employed young Muslims react to white European or American discrimination against Muslims.
- Affection: Some go to Syria because a friend or relative has gone.
- New connections: Some have lost family, friends or their job and seek new connections in the brotherhood of men at war.
- Escape: Some join IS to get away from debts, prison or family problems.
- Status and risk-seeking: Some seek thrill, adventure and warrior status, going from zero to hero.
Professor Hilmi Demir of Hitit University's Faculty of Theology told Al-Monitor during a meeting in Ankara that IS offers many things to youths who can’t find a place for themselves in society: a religious perspective, a sense of belonging, brotherhood, respect and reputation. The group makes them heroes by offering martyrdom. In addition to offering a pure society free of misbehavior, IS provides its fighters housing, a salary and even marriage assistance.
Demir said, "In Turkey, we don’t pay much attention to the radicalization process. Turkey focuses on identifying radicalized individuals or preventing the crossing of borders. We don’t wonder how they were radicalized but rather want to find who is using them. We ignore that there can be no radicalized action without religious and ideological radicalization." Demir concluded by warning, “Today there is a very strong Salafist network that nourishes radicalism against traditional Sunni schools of thought. Any youngster caught in the indoctrination of that network ends up in IS. We must attach priority to develop mechanisms that will combat this religious-ideological doctrine. Unfortunately, I am not very optimistic about it.”
Turkish politicians have been noticeably quiet on the issue of Turks joining IS. As a result, the security apparatus is not concerned with IS recruitment centers and Turks who may be joining IS. Al-Monitor spoke to security officials in Ankara who say that Turkey doesn’t have a strategic vision for combating IS. Joining IS is not considered a crime, and the bookshops and associations that operate as IS recruitment fronts, although known by security forces, are not shut down.
As a result, society is unaware of and the media pay little attention to the hundreds of youths under the influence of Salafist currents who are trying to get to Syria and Iraq to join IS. Politicians don’t have a strategic vision to combat this vital threat. The security bureaucracy is confused and practically immobile. Today, the prevailing notion is “let there first be an incident, then we will take care of it.”
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/03/turkey-salafi-radicalization-on-the-rise.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=6b41290f8a-Week_in_review_30_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-6b41290f8a-93086189#ixzz3VsERf86u
Πέμπτη, 5 Μαρτίου 2015
Κυριακή, 22 Φεβρουαρίου 2015
Τετάρτη, 11 Φεβρουαρίου 2015
Δευτέρα, 26 Ιανουαρίου 2015
The Opinion Pages |THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD
The message from Sunday’s elections in Greece was unambiguous: The Greeks cannot and will not continue to abide by the austerity regime that has brought their economy to its knees. It was a message the Germans and other Europeans who continue to insist that Greece pay off its mountainous debt, no matter what the damage, must hear. Persisting on their dogmatic course is not only wrong for Greece but dangerous for the entire European Union.
It is too soon to anticipate how Alexis Tsipras, the maverick politician whose left-wing Syriza party won 36.3 percent of the popular vote and nearly gained an outright majority in Parliament, intends to deliver on the promises he made to voters to abandon the austerity program while reducing the nation’s debt and retaining the euro.
These goals are fundamentally incompatible, but the new prime minister has signaled to Europeans that he is ready to moderate his ambitions once in office. It is essential that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who is seen by Greeks as the prime architect of the austerity program, and the “troika” of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which manage the Greek bailout, demonstrate a similar readiness to ease the size and conditions of Greece’s debt burden.
Some of the creditors still seem to feel that a debt is a debt to be repaid in full, and that the Greeks “deserve” punishment for their history of profligate spending and habitual tax evasion. But shrinking an economy by a quarter and throwing more than half the young people out of work — policies Mr. Tsipras has likened to waterboarding — is not the way to enable a country to pay back its debts. Greece needs some breathing room, not only to give Mr. Tsipras a chance to turn the country around but also for the sake of the rest of Europe.
Greece may be exceptional in the size of its debt burden, now about 177 percent of G.D.P., and its systemic problems run deep. But Greeks are not unique in their feelings of alienation and anger over the economic crisis that spread to many of the poorer countries of the European Union, and Syriza is hardly the most radical of the fringe parties that have arisen across Europe in reaction to the crisis. If Greece is pushed to the limit and compelled to default on its debt payments, and even to abandon the euro, the economic repercussions would spread through all Europe. Politically, a “Grexit” — Greek exit from the euro — would shatter the assumption that there is no retreat from the euro and further destabilize Europe. And it would certainly add fuel to anti-European Union sentiments that have propelled the growth of far-right parties.
Of course, Mr. Tsipras must use his popular mandate to push through the fundamental domestic reforms that his predecessor, Antonis Samaras, had begun. The moneyed elites’ aversion to paying taxes must be brought to an end, along with the corruption, nepotism and cronyism in government. Opposing austerity does not mean abandoning reform as a group of prominent economists wrote recently in The Financial Times.
There is not a lot of time, though. Greece’s current bailout program expires on Feb. 28. European Union leaders — Mr. Tsipras among them — are scheduled to gather in Brussels on Feb. 12. An announcement there of an extension of the program for several months would be a good signal that the Europeans have heard the cry of the Greeks and are prepared to be more sensible.
If explanation were needed, he adds: “It was purely symbolic.”
Tsipras, who at 40 becomes Greece’s youngest post-war leader, is a deft communicator with an army of (mostly) US-trained advisers. For a nation battered by German-inspired austerity and humiliated by international focus, standing up to Europe’s paymaster by whatever means plays well with the gallery.
As the TV cameras rolled, Greek commentators couldn’t help themselves: “It’s another ‘up yours’ to the Germans,” one said.
Tsipras told thousands of supporters in a victory speech on Sunday that he would seek to restore “their lost dignity”. For Greek leftists, widely persecuted after their defeat in the bloody civil war that followed the Wehrmacht’s withdrawal from Greece, such gestures are hugely significant.
The men and women who were shot dead at dawn that day were killed in reprisal for the guerrilla ambush of a German general, Franz Krech, and three of his aides at Molaos, near Sparti, in the Peloponnese.
Famously they began to sing – giving an uproarious rendition of the Greek national anthem – as they were lead to their deaths from the notorious SS-run camp at Haidari, then a suburb on the outskirts of Athens. German soldiers looked on astonished as the Greeks broke into song. Once at the range, the hostages refused to undress – insisting that they go dressed with dignity. It was an act of resistance that in austerity-whipped Greece resonates greatly today.