Turkey’s far-right ruling party, which has imprisoned journalists and dissidents, continued its extremist slide on Thursday, calling student protesters “terrorists.” This is the latest group on Turkey’s list of “terrorists” after removing 60 of 65 opposition HDP mayors and imprisoning, or charging critics on Twitter and journalists as “terrorists.”
For Turkey’s ruling AK Party, which has in the past been supported by the US, EU and NATO, any critic is now a “terrorist.”
The latest outburst in Ankara comes from the Ministry of Foreign Relations which has now attacked peaceful student protests as “terrorists.” The statement came after days in which Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, bashed gay activists and condemned LGBT student protesters.
Turkey’s ruling party has called gay people “deviants” and supported religious extremists who claimed gays spread “disease.” Turkey’s government, despite being a member of NATO and an ally of the US, and wanting to join the EU, is one of the most authoritarian in the world and has put the most journalists in prison, and frequently bashes gay rights.
The current US administration has been following the student protests and is concerned about Turkey’s extremist rhetoric. Twitter even flagged a tweet by Turkey’s far-right interior minister in which he bashed gay activists.
The recent Ministry statement claims that student protesters were driven by “certain groups that are not from the university and are affiliated with terrorist organization.” It refers to Bogazici University.
Turkey then threatens foreign countries for criticizing Turkey, claiming foreigners “exceed their limits and interfere in Turkey’s internal affairs. Turkey regularly interferes in the internal affairs of other countries, kidnapping people through renditions, fueling extremism and invading and bombing countries. Turkey hosts Hamas terrorists, which reportedly plan terror attacks on Israel.
How did Turkey get to the point where it now views peaceful students as “terrorists?” Turkey rode a wave of Western countries’ crackdown on “terrorists” over the years to exploit its allies in the West that were focused on terrorism by claiming Kurdish and left-wing dissidents in Turkey were also “terrorists.”
During the Trump era, Turkey sought access to the White House and even fed on Right-wing US politicians talking points, arguing that the Kurdish PKK were linked to Antifa. Despite almost no actual terrorism in Turkey, the country has imprisoned thousands on “terror” charges and invents various conspiracies about “FETO” and “PKK” terrorists.
Turkey’s government often tells foreign journalists that it lost “40,000” people at the hands of “terrorists,” although in reality it was Turkey’s government bombing and strafing villages that led to thousands of civilian deaths, and there were few terror deaths in Turkey.
In recent years, Turkey has bombed Iraq, claiming it is fighting terrorists, and invaded and ethnically-cleansed northern Syria, claiming there are “terrorists” there. US government reports and media reports have asserted that Turkey’s government actually enabled ISIS extremists to transit Turkey and raise money there. Turkey also protects Al Qaeda-linked elements in Idlib, raising questions as to the Orwellian use of the term “terrorists” by Ankara.
Ankara fueled ISIS and has backed extremist groups in Syria, many of them linked to jihadists or even Al-Qaeda, and its current form, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Turkey has also fueled extremism in France, accusing France of publishing anti-Muslim cartoons, a claim that fueled terror attacks in France.
Turkey may also be working to encourage extremist groups from Afghanistan to Somalia and Kashmir in India. Under the guise of fighting “terror,” which in Turkey usually means a crackdown on women activists, LGBT youth, students, Kurds, minorities and journalists, Turkey’s current regime has hosted Hamas terrorists and supported extremists throughout the region. It appears also that Turkey now embraces similar rhetoric as Iran’s regime, and that it is working closely with authoritarians. from Pakistan, Malaysia and other countries.