Dear sparring partner…

Dear sparring partner…

We have been peacefully sparring over the last several years. Hoping that you will in no way view this letter from your sparring partner and friend as an intention to break the peace, allow to me speak “in your face.”

Mustafa; when I read your “Mali: Totalitarian vs. Liberal Islamism (HDN, Jan. 30),” I reflexively thought that an enemy must have hacked your account and sent this piece to our editorial headquarters to embarrass you. I even feared your fans could suspect me as the culprit. There was no correction, and I was relieved.

In your column, you referred to a New York Times article, “A Tale of Two Islamisms,” which mentioned an NGO in Mali which rejects violent tactics and oppressive measures of the (totalitarian) Islamists. You re-quoted Moussa Boubacar Bah, one of the leaders of that “liberal Islamist” NGO as saying: “I will not destroy a bar. I will convince the people not to drink.”

I could not think of a better example to illustrate why “liberal Islamism” is an oxymoron. Please thank, on our behalf, all your liberal Islamist friends for not destroying our bars. And tell them we don’t need a “liberal” to convince us about what not to drink or what not to eat or what not to wear.

I am still curious, though, whether you would embrace a liberal secularism in which liberal secularists would not destroy restaurants which refuse to serve alcohol but would convince the people to drink alcohol and eat pork, or to convince Muslim ladies not to wear the headscarf. Very liberal, indeed, would it not be?

Then I read your now very-famous tweet. Again, I thought an enemy must have hacked your account and, once again, feared your fans would accuse me. Referring to the suicide bomber of the U.S. embassy last week, a terrorist with the name Ecevit Şanlı, you wrote in your Twitter account: “The bomber’s name is Ecevit Şanlı, a DHKP-C member (Ecevit is the surname of a late leftist prime minister. So, a family tradition here).”

Once again, I was wrong but relieved. In your logic, former Prime Minister and poet Bülent Ecevit was an ideological inspiration for the bomber and/or his family, a logic you thought “smartly” revealed Mr. Ecevit’s terrorist lineage.

Could I have been wrong? I checked and re-checked and found no source linking the late prime minister to any sort of terrorism. The 3.5 million entries that show up when you type the words “Ecevit” and “terrorism” are about his fight against terrorism. WikiLeaks has no entry on “Ecevit and terrorism.” But, if you are curious, it devotes a comprehensive section to “Islamic terrorism.” And Google will give you 25 million entries if you type “Islam” and “terrorism.” Academic proof? Just count, if there is any, the number of books narrating Mr. Ecevit’s links to terror, then do the same research for Islamism and terror.

All the same, I am not going to further explain to you why this reasoning looks pathetic. But suffice it to say that I was deeply disappointed with the disproportion between the logic you used and your intellect.

Perhaps I should tell you, by using easier-to-understand examples, why your tweet was more than problematic. I shall abstain from reminding you how many terrorists have gone by the name Mohammed.

But the famous rapist Umut Akyol, or Hüseyin Akyol, the Ergenekon gang’s mastermind in the militant Kurdish movement, or the famous village guard Ismail Akyol who killed four Kurds, surely cannot be examples of a family tradition of the kind you implied in your tweet. Nor would I ever think your name marks a family tradition when I recall Maj. Gen. Cihat Akyol, the notoriously ruthless head of the Turkish Gladio in the early 1970s.

With regards, Mustafa, as always…