‘How can a Muslim do this?’

‘How can a Muslim do this?’

“This” in the title line refers to the continuous fall into the public domain of increasingly embarrassing tape recordings undeniably proving that Turkey was being ruled precisely as government-skeptics, including this columnist, have invariably argued it was. 

In the face of substantiated evidence for most known and unknown forms of mal-governance, the grand coalition of Islamists, opportunists and Islamist opportunists are resorting to what they are always best at: religious hate speech.

Zafer Çağlayan, the former economy minister who was forced to resign in the wake of the graft scandal in December, showed up at a public rally last weekend, not looking like a man in embarrassment, but a man ready to insult.

He did not look like a man who was indicted for taking bribes to the tune of 52 million euros, whose son was arrested (to be released later) for conspiring in a corruption network, who had accepted as a gift a watch that comes with a six-digit price tag from a businessman who is also a suspect in the same investigation and who enjoyed a free family Muslim pilgrimage on the private jet of the same businessman. He looked more like a war hero – a warrior of Islam.

He said he would understand if a Jew or an atheist or a Zoroastrian was behind this [all legal and illegal documentation of multiple scandals] but how could a Muslim, a not-so-subtle reference to the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, be involved? Mr. Çağlayan’s words: “A Jew or an atheist or a Zoroastrian would do all these things to us. Shame on them if these things are done by those who claim to be Muslim. How can a Muslim do this?”

In a sane country, Mr. Çağlayan would have been prosecuted for that remark. In Turkey, he will most probably be rewarded. Think, honestly, what would Mr. Çağlayan and his fellow Islamists think if an Israeli politician had said: “I would understand if a Muslim did that...” If that’s Islamophobia, what would best describe Mr. Çağlayan’s speech?  

Mr. Çağlayan is lucky. He lives in a country where that speech will make one a hero, not a racist. And not many Turkish Muslims will question Mr. Çağlayan’s logic: Is revealing corruption and an extremely rich menu of illegal and unethical governmental practice “un-Muslim,” or taking bribes? 

If he had not been indicted by prosecutors [who have been suspended or reassigned], Turkey would now have an economy minister who thinks only Jews, atheists and Zoroastrians could do bad things to other people. Christians can feel they are lucky to have avoided being on Mr. Çağlayan’s list of awful human beings.

But it may just be a slip of the tongue – that Mr. Çağlayan probably missed the word “Christian” by mistake. By contrast, for some reason, the Zoroastrians have always had a dear place in Turkish hearts. A former interior minister had called the Kurdistan Workers’ Party militants a bunch of “pork-eating Zoroastrians.” See the Christian linkage? Pork-eating. Sounds like man-eating.

How bizarre. Turkey, under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule, would be the role model for Muslim countries without democracy. It would be the bridge between the West and the Muslim world. It would prune Muslim radicalism. Sorry, gentlemen; the days of fantasy and fairy tales are over. While you were enthusiastically waiting to see the days when the Hamas mind would reform itself and look more like the more reasonable Turkish mind, the opposite has happened. 

Where, otherwise, in the non-Hamas world would voters campaign for a prime minister with this banner?

“We are not 3 million-5 million Jews.

We are the Muslims who rule over the Jews who unmercifully oppress the whole world.”

The banner, seen and photographed as it was outfitted into the haulage of a pick-up in Istanbul, ends with terms of endearment for Mr. Erdoğan: Die for you!

This columnist has no objection if “Muslims who rule over a few million Jews who unmercifully oppress the whole world” wanted to die for Mr. Erdoğan. The trouble is, their intention to volunteer for death is often associated with an intention to kill.