Ignorance is bliss

Ignorance is bliss

Forget, for a moment, the death toll that comes in seven-digit numbers in Islamic lands where Muslims kill Muslims en masse, often by bombing mosques where the adherents of the “other sect” pray. Forget, also, how and why to kill the infidel and die as a martyr is a proud jihadist pastime. 

It was not surprising at all when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan implied that the beloved ones of the fallen soldiers were in fact the “lucky ones” because their beloved ones had become martyrs - and we Muslims wish to become martyrs, as a cabinet minister recently declared. It would be too cruel to wish his wish be fulfilled. 

But there are unwanted deaths in the Islamic world too - deaths the Islamic world often welcomes with a reflex to protect self-interest: a nobody’s death should in no way pose a risk to the order. 

Various estimates would put the death toll in the Turkish-Kurdish conflict over the past three decades at anywhere between 35,000 and 45,000. It is a tragic number no matter where the real figure stands. But over the past five years, according to a parliamentary motion, a total of 18,839 Turks have died and 1.277 million injured in 6 million road accidents -- and mind you, per capita alcohol consumption in Turkey, at 1.6 liters per annum, is less six times less than in a fairly sober European country (compare it, for instance, with nearly 10.6 liters in Denmark where there are about a dozen cities with slightly more population that the number of Turks who have perished in road accidents in the span of five years). 

No wonder the deaths of more than 750 pilgrims at the hajj this year will probably remain a mere Saudi statistics – apart from a couple of senior officials who were surprisingly sacked. So will be 107, or the number of people who died two weeks prior to the hajj tragedy, when a crane collapsed in Mecca’s Grand Mosque. 

President Erdoğan is notoriously too sensitive to Muslim deaths wherever in the world they may take place.

Unless, of course, such deaths happen because of Muslim bullets, bombs, ignorance or any ugly combination of the three. He probably did not surprise anyone when he defended Saudi Arabia in the wake of the hajj tragedy: “It is not right to have the approach of putting the blame on Saudi Arabia.” But of course! Your columnist tends to put the blame on the Vatican, suspecting, on a slighter note, a Chilean conspiracy. 

“I cannot say ‘the organization is wrong,’” the president said. Well, if this is the “right” organization, one should not wish to think about how a “wrong” organization would end up. And if the organization was “right,” why did the kingdom fire the officials in charge? Is accountability a better established practice in the Saudi Kingdom then in the “advanced democracy” of Turkey, since not a single official in Turkey was fired after the mining disaster? 

When over 300 miners died in an accident in western Turkey in May 2014, Mr. Erdoğan simply said that “death is in the nature of mining.” Only two months before the tragedy, a parliamentary inquiry request filed by the opposition benches into safety violations at the same mine had been voted down by then-Prime Minister Erdoğan’s party. 

In all reality, it is the same thing. Everything at the Turkish mine was perfect and more than 300 people died because it was merely God’s will. And in two weeks’ time, more than 800 pilgrims in Mecca died because, according to one Saudi official, “they were undisciplined and did not follow the instructions.” And why do the Turkish motorists die in numbers reminiscent of a bloody ethnic war? Because they drink and drive? Or because ignorance is bliss?