Given Turkey's inhospitable treatment of non-Muslims throughout the ages, it is the height of hypocrisy for its foreign minister to complain about Europe's attitude towards Muslims, which has been the opposite of Islamophobic.
To refresh Çavu?o?lu's memory, a review of Turkey's record is in order.
By proposing to block all criticism of Islam on the grounds that it is "extremist, anti-immigrant, xenophobic and Islamophobic," Çavu?o?lu is revealing that he would welcome banning free speech to protect a religious ideology.
At an event held in on April 11 to unveil the 2017 European Islamophobia Report -- released by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research -- Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavu?o?lu called on EU governments to criminalize Islamophobia.
"There is no ideology or terminology called 'Islamism'; There is only one Islam and it means 'peace,'" he declared -- incorrectly: salaam means peace; Islam means submission. He also claimed that populist politicians are "increasingly engaging in extremist, anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and Islamophobic rhetoric to get a few more votes," and that "centrist politicians are... using a similar rhetoric to get back the votes they have lost."
Urging all politicians to recognize Islamophobia as "a hate crime and a form of racism" in their constitutions, Çavu?o?lu accused European judiciaries of applying a double standard by not paying as much attention to Islamophobia as they do to anti-Semitism. Using the Holocaust as an analogy, he continued: "There is no need to relive Auschwitz or wait for Muslims to be burned in gas chambers like Jewish people."
Çavu?o?lu's view is not new, but it is a gross distortion of past and contemporary history; it seems shaped by a notion that Islam is superior to other religions, as well as from surah 9:33 of the Quran:
"It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion..." (Sahih Translation)
Çavu?o?lu's views also echo those of the Turkish government, headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.
Non-Muslims, as we all have been seeing, are persecuted throughout the Islamic world. Muslims in Europe, on the other hand, enjoy equal rights and religious liberty. Unfortunately, many radical imams use the freedoms granted to them by European democracies to preach Jew-hatred and violent jihad, to recruit fightersand to establish sharia (Islamic) law courts in their neighborhoods.
Some Muslims, inspired by the teachings of and atmosphere created by these imams, engage in gruesome, religiously motivated crimes against non-Muslims. A disabled 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, for instance, was recently raped, tortured and murdered in her Paris apartment by an extremist Muslim.
Çavu?o?lu, in his talk against Islamophobia, did not mention the atrocities committed by radical Islamists in Europe. Those abuses are at the root of the debate about how to tackle the calls to violence in Islam without hampering the civil liberties of law-abiding Muslims. By proposing to block all criticism of Islam on the grounds that it is "extremist, anti-immigrant, xenophobic and Islamophobic," Çavu?o?lu is revealing that he would welcome banning free speechto protect a religious ideology.
Given Turkey's inhospitable treatment of non-Muslims throughout the ages, it is the height of hypocrisy for its foreign minister to complain about Europe's attitude towards Muslims, which has been the opposite of Islamophobic. To refresh Çavu?o?lu's memory, a review of Turkey's record is in order.
Non-Muslims in Turkey have been exposed to severe persecution and attempts at annihilation, such as the 1914-1923 Christian genocide; the 1941-1942 conscription of the "twenty classes," of all male Christians and Jews, including the elderly and mentally ill; and the 1942 Wealth Tax, which aimed to impoverish non-Muslims and transfer their wealth to Muslims.
Today, only 0.2 percent of Turkey's population of nearly 80 million is Christian or Jewish.
The following is a brief account of how Turkish governments have rid the country of its non-Muslim citizens:
Greeks: There are fewer than 2,000 Greeks left in Istanbul, which, until the 15th century Ottoman Turkish invasion, was the Greek city of Constantinople. Even despite its tiny size, the community still suffers from violations of its rights. Among these was the forced closure in 1971 of the Orthodox Halki Seminary, the only school for training the leadership of Orthodox Christianity. Since that time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the spiritual center of Orthodox Christianity, based in Turkey, has been unable to train clergy and potential successors for the position of patriarch.
It is also important to note that the cities in Asia Minor or Anatolia, which were established by Greeks during the 9th and 8th centuries B.C., no longer have any Greeks. They were either murdered, deported or forced to flee severe persecution, including the anti-Greek pogrom of September 1955 in Istanbul, and the 1964 expulsion of Greeks from all over Turkey.
Armenians: Even after the 1915 genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians perished, the persecution of Armenians in Turkey did not end. Since then, the remaining Armenians have witnessed the continued seizure of their property and other assets. In addition, verbal and physical attacks against Armenian community members, schools and the only Armenian newspaper in the country by the Turkish public and the media are still common.
Jews: Since 1923, when the Turkish Republic was established, Jews have been exposed to systematic discrimination and various pressures. The laws that excluded Jews and other non-Muslim citizens from certain occupations in the 1920s and blocked the Jews' freedom of movement; the 1934 anti-Jewish pogrom in eastern Thrace, and the continued anti-Jewish hate speech in the Turkish media and certain political circles are among the forms of persecution and discrimination against Jewish citizens of Turkey.