By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, 17 August 2022
You may call him unprincipled, fatuous, irascible, cagey, and obtuse. But above all, Turkey’s Recep Erdogan is a liar who has honed the art of the expedient falsehood. He is the frenemy of Putin, Biden, ex-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Egypt’s Fattah El-Sisi, Saudi Arabia’s sheiks, Hamas leaders, the oil sheiks, and Iran’s ayatollahs. Since he is a voluble prevaricator, he has provided the world with reams of quotations illustrating his propensity to bend the truth. Here is a sampling of quotations from Erdogan’s mendacious oeuvres.
1A. “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”
1B. “A political party cannot have a religion.”
1C. “Whatever our Lord says, whatever our beloved Prophet says, we shall follow that path.”
2A. “Everyone should unconditionally accept that Israel is an indispensable element of the Middle East mosaic.”
2B. “[Israelis] have no conscience, no honor, no pride. They curse Hitler day and night, but they have surpassed Hitler’s barbarism.”
2C. “Zionism is a crime against humanity. Israelis are murderers who drag women on the ground to their death. They are murderers to the point that they kill children who are five or six years old. They kill old people. They are only satisfied by sucking their blood. Terrorism is in their nature.”
2D: “I am one of the first political leaders officially declaring that anti-Semitism is a crime.” Mein Kamph is a perennial bestseller in Turkey and Turkish media is replete with anti-Semitic content.
2E. “Jerusalem is our city, a city from us. Those who think they own Jerusalem better know that tomorrow they will not even be able to hide behind trees…the international community needs to teach a deterrent lesson to Israel.” 2F. One day he is the white knight of the Palestinians and the next he shuts the Hamas office in Istanbul.
3A. “You cannot put women and men on an equal footing. It’s against nature. They were created differently… Women shouldn’t laugh loudly…I don’t believe in gender equality…Childless women are incomplete and deficient…Family planning is not for Muslim families…Birth control is treason.”
3B. “Paramount is the need to secure human rights.”
3C. In 2021 Erdogan signed a decree withdrawing Turkey from the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence.
4A. “Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off.”
4B. “Several experts on the Middle Eat concur that the Middle East cannot be democratized…Democracy is product of Western culture and it cannot be applied to the Middle East which has a different cultural, religious, sociological, and historical background.”
4C. “If we believe in the democratic system, we have to accept the will of the people.”
5A. Although his armies have invaded Syria, Iraq, Libya, and attacked Armenia; killed countless Kurds, Alevis, and Yazidis in Turkey, occupy parts of Syria and Iraq, and almost daily threaten Greece and Cyprus, Erdogan has criticized unnamed neighboring leaders with these words: “It is impossible to preserve my friendship with people who are allegedly leaders when they are attacking their own people, shooting at them, using tanks and other forms of heavy weaponry.”
6A. “The PKK [Kurdish liberation group] is the number one threat in terms of terror in our country.”
6B. “There is no Kurdish problem.”
7A. “I regard the German people with very positive feelings.”
7B. “Your [German] practices are no different from the Nazi practices of the past. I thought it’s been a long time since Germany left Nazi practices…Christian Democrats, the SPD, the Green Party are all enemies of Turkey…Germany’s ruling politicians are ”enemies of Turkey.”
7C. While trying to hoard more power by changing the Turkish constitution, he buttressed his campaign by saying “…There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany.”
7D. Erdogan described German insistence on learning German a condition of living in Germany with these words: “Making knowledge of German an important condition is against human rights.” Although 4 to 7 million Turks [600,000 are Kurds from Turkey] have markedly improved their standard of living by settling in Germany, Erdogan misses no opportunity to bite the hand that feeds him. He has also insulted Chancellor Merkel. 7E. Erdogan: “Germany cannot scare Turkey. You [Germans] do not have the power to smear Turkey.”
8A.”Paramount is the need to secure human rights. The form of rule should be such that the citizen does not have to fear the state, but given direction and confidently participate in its administration,” Erdogan was quoted as saying. But following the plot against him (July, 2016), 40,000 people were arrested, 160,000 government officials were suspended, 4,000 judges were purged, prison inmate numbers soared to 272,000. At least 131 media outlets were shut (16 TV stations, 23 radio stations, 3 news agencies, 45 newspapers, 15 magazines, 29 publishing houses). 117 journalists were fired (35 indicted of belonging to terror groups), the accreditation of 620 journalists were revoked, and 2,308 media workers and journalists lost their jobs. Erdogan blocked 30 news-related website and any mention of Erdogan Jr.’s corruption was censored. A 16-year-old was arrested for insulting Erdogan on the internet while a former Miss Turkey got into trouble for sharing an anti-Erdogan poem.
8B. Erdogan said: “We will eradicate Twitter…I don’t care what the international community says.” He banned Twitter and YouTube but reinstated them. He also threatened to block Facebook. He has also stated: “We have never done anything to stop freedom of expression or freedom of press.” He justified his anti-freedom of expression policies with these words: “If you draw up a caricature…if you associate that subject with the things you’re not supposed to, then, of course, you can’t expect that to be acceptable.” Is that clear or what?
8C. He said: “My nation wants the death penalty…First of all, we will chop the heads of these traitors.”
9A. Although there’s rampant racism in Turkey against the Alevis, Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Jews, Kurds, and Yazidis, Erdogan said: “Attempts by one ethnic group to exert sovereignty over another are not fair. It doesn’t matter if that ethnicity is Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic (sic), Chaldean or whatever.”
10A. Erdogan promised progress and prosperity when he was elected. Today, inflation is close to 80 per cent and unemployment 21.7 per cent. When Erdogan became president, 1.6 liras were equivalent to $1. Now a dollar is worth 16 liras.
Had his name been Pinocchio, Erdogan’s nose would have been a meter long. But far more important than the length of his proboscis is the world’s tolerance of Erdogan’s chameleon act. Why do the United States, Russia, Britain, France….the whole world…allow Erdogan to get away with his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performance?