Turkey takes global lead against N Zealand assault
It’s not without reason that Turkey has taken the lead in showing solidarity with the New Zealand government and its people and in strongly denouncing the brutal, inhuman assault by a fascist gunman that left 50 Muslims dead behind. Despite its geographical distance, it has become the first country that dispatched a high-level delegation to New Zealand with the participation of Vice President Fuat Oktay and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
One can immediately cite five main reasons for Turkey’s straight away involvement with the terrorist attack in New Zealand.
First is about the fact that three Turkish nationals were wounded in the incident. Oktay and Çavuşoğlu have invited the relatives of the injured Turkish nationals to their plane to New Zealand and proposed to bring back them for treatment in their homeland. Senior Turkish officials were scheduled to visit all the injured and pay condolences to the relatives of the victims of the attack as well as to the New Zealand government.
Second reason is the fact that the so-called manifest of the terrorist gives wide coverage to anti-Ottoman and anti-Turkish citations. Turkish records have revealed that Australian-born terrorist Brenton Tarrant had paid two long visits to Turkey not so much ago during which he had brewed his anti-Ottoman and anti-Turkish feelings. The Turkish intelligence is now looking into his itinerary and his potential connections in Turkey.
Third and fourth are about the messages Turkey delivers to the international community, namely the Christian West and Islamic world, on the need of a mutual fight against Islamophobia, racism and far-right politics.
A good portion of these messages go to the European nations with which Turkey has long been in a row over their treatments towards the Muslims. Given the fact that around five million Turks live in western European countries, rise in the ultra-nationalist and racist politics in the continent constitutes a major concern for Turkey. Many Turkish people living in these countries have either been killed or injured in such ultra-nationalist attacks in the recent years.
That’s why all the Turkish politicians have recalled this concern in their condemnation messages right after the attack in New Zealand broke the news. They are also calling on the Western leaders to show a similar global reaction they did when a group of terrorist raided and killed journalists and cartoonists of French satirical, Charlie Hebdo in 2015.
Turkey’s decision to take the lead in standing against such terrorist attacks and in leading to a global awareness stems from the indifference and inability of scores of Muslim nations and organizations. Oktay and Çavuşoğlu’s visit has seemingly received appreciation from the Muslim communities in various corners of the world and is seen as consistent with Turkey’s recently adopted foreign policy that rushes to the help of each and every Muslim in the world.
Turkey’s take on the New Zealand incident has also a domestic policy dimension on the eve of local elections. It came a week after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has begun to criticize its rivals for disrespecting the Islam and the azan upon claims that women associations who had hit the streets to mark the Women Day on March 9 in Istanbul did protest the call to prayer.
Citing this incident although participants denied all accusations, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his main political ally, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli had described their rivals as the enemies of azan.
Just a day after the deadly assault in New Zealand, in election campaigns in Tekirdağ and Istanbul, President Erdoğan preferred to show video footage from the New Zealand mosque attack despite a general and global understanding that this notorious recording should not be open to any public broadcasting. Plus, he later linked a statement by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu with the New Zealand attack. After all, these are days when foreign and domestic issues are not separated from each other despite its polarizing and devastating impact on the social unity.