Feb 22 2018

Turkish pro-govt. writers turn on one another

Discord has broken out among Islamist journalists aligned with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Turkish news site ABC Gazetesi reported on Wednesday.

While certain media outlets in Turkey have acquired a reputation for adopting a unified line to support the government, to the extent of at times printing the same headlines, that did not stop one Islamist news site, Haksöz Haber, from launching an attack on a writer known for his ties to the AKP, Salih Tuna of the Sabah newspaper.

An editorial printed in Haksöz last Saturday accused Tuna of taking sides with left-wing nationalists it called the “civilian wing of the Feb. 28 coup”.

The Feb. 28, 1997 military memorandum, often referred to as the “postmodern coup”, was a demand sent by the Turkish military to the Islamist Prime Minister of the time, Necmettin Erbakan of the Welfare Party, that precipitated the end of the coalition government he headed and forced Erbakan to step down.

The incident was said to have been motivated by the secular military’s fear of Erbakan’s Islamist agenda, and is a source of lasting outrage for religious-conservative political movements in Turkey, including the AKP, for whom Erbakan was a mentor figure. It was welcomed, however, by secularists, in particular the left-wing nationalists represented by Doğu Perinçek’s Patriotic Party.

Haksöz took Tuna to task for a Feb. 17 article in Sabah, in which he lays the blame for Feb. 28 1997 on the United States, Israel and the followers of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamist preacher alleged to have masterminded the failed coup attempt in 2016.

Tuna went on congratulate the Vanguard Youth, the youth wing attached to Doğu Perinçek’s Patriotic Party, for protesting the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

For Haksöz, this praise for an organisation affiliated with Perinçek, who they accuse of participating in the events of 1997 as the postmodern coup’s propagandist and “civilian wing”, was intolerable, signalling a “slyly planned ideological alliance” between Tuna and the left-wing nationalists.

Tuna responded by accusing the Islamist newspaper of behaving "like the Islamic state" by throwing accusations at him - an act he compared to "Takfirism", the act of accusing Muslims of being unbelievers,which is associated particularly with Salafist jihadist groups.

The clash also caught the attention of other Islamist writers, including Ufuk Coşkun, who sided with Tuna and claimed his accusers were "supporters of U.S. policies" in a social media post, according to ABC.