PHILADELPHIA – January 6, 2022 – Below are the ten most frequently viewed MEForum.org articles of 2021 in ascending order. Traffic to the original sites of publication, where applicable, is not counted.
The selections reflect heightened reader concerns about Turkish imperialism and the interplay between Islam and Christianity. All are worth a (re)read.
The 2018 Turkish takeover of the Afrin area in northern Syria led to the expulsion or flight of around 200,000 Kurds and the abduction of over 150 women. "Very grave violations of human rights are [still] taking place in the Afrin area, on a systematic basis. The situation remains largely ignored by both the global media and Western governments," writes Ginsburg/Milstein Writing Fellow Jonathan Spyer. This "large-scale forced movement of a population" is unique among the many atrocities in Syria's civil war in that it was "directed not by a pariah regime under Western sanctions, still less by an unaffiliated militia," but "rather was conducted by a NATO member state and US ally."
Assessing the outcome of the latest war between Israel and Hamas in May, Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes disputes the widely held view that Hamas won politically. "The most important question is whether this fourth round of fighting will lead Israelis to make sure there is no fifth round. I think that is likely, in which case Hamas would be the big loser," he said in an interview with Global Review. Pipes called Hamas' much-touted success in inciting riots by Arab Israelis during the conflict a "positive," because it alerted Jewish Israelis "to the pending crisis on their hands with their Muslim compatriots ... which they have been unwilling to confront."
Amid the Taliban's swift and brutal takeover of Afghanistan in August, Islamist Watch Director Sam Westrop maintained a running list of Islamists in the West who welcomed the murderous jihadists' proclamation of the "rebirth of the Islamic Emirate." It's surprising how unsurprising the quotations are.
Benjamin Baird, the Islamism in Politics (IIP) Coordinator for MEF's Islamist Watch, examines TV doctor and Senate candidate Mehmet Oz's troubling associations with Turkey's Islamist regime.
Since 2017 at least, the celebrity surgeon has served as the public face of Turkish Airlines, a state-owned company staffed by leading figures in Turkey's ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) close to the family of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Oz has also been involved with known regime proxies in the United States, such as the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) and the Diyanet Center of America (DCA). "Oz should renounce the AKP and fully divest from AKP-owned businesses and lobbies," Baird writes in conclusion.
Part II of Daniel Pipes' essay on Christian responses to Islam and Muslims. Whereas Part I discussed the "uniquely hostile nature of European views toward Muslims" during the pre-modern era, when the latter enjoyed military superiority or parity, Part II examines the period from roughly 1700 onward when the Europeans enjoyed primacy. This disparity (Europeans conquered nearly all Muslim-majority areas of the globe in one-and-a-half centuries), combined with a reduction in Christian religiosity, permitted "more varied and nuanced views" of Islam and Muslims to prevail. However, the emergence of Islamism as a global threat and the upsurge of Muslim immigration in recent years are leading some in the West to again see Islam as a civilizational threat.
The July 2021 stabbing of Christian street preacher Hatun Tash in London's Hyde Park is the latest violent altercation in an ancient proselytizing contest between Islam and Christianity, writes Middle East Forum writing fellow Mark Durie. He shows that the use of force to win this contest was sanctioned by Muhammad himself and is today embraced wholeheartedly by jihadis. "However, as Hatun Tash pointed out, to resort to violence can also be taken as a weakness, suggesting the failure of reason and argument to support Islam's claims."
Daniel Pipes documents the growth of atheism in Muslim communities and explains why this represents a challenge to "Islam as practiced today." Atheism among Muslim-born populations has historically been minor and was "nearly undetectable" just a few decades ago. Open disbelief in God and the rejection of Muhammad's mission was "historically illegal and unspeakable" in Muslim societies. However, "repression of heterodox ideas and punishment of anyone who leaves the faith" makes Islam "singularly vulnerable to challenge" if adherents depart in large numbers anyway. The growing turn toward atheism in recent years means the "Islamic future [is] more precarious than its past," concludes Pipes.
Anne-Christine Hoff, an assistant professor of English at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, examines the impact of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's "systematic policy of Islamic supremacism" on the country's 175,000-strong Christian community, from the conversion of Istanbul's famous Hagia Sophia cathedral into a mosque to the grotesque anti-Christian incitement and hate speech on state-run media outlets. Turkey's Christians are faced with four "stark choices," she writes: "exile; continued acquiescence in their longstanding third-class status; fighting that status at the risk of being mercilessly crushed; or conversion, in the hope of full integration in Turkey's Islamic order of things."
Syrian journalist Rauf Baker demonstrates in great detail how Turkey is pursuing a "systematic Turkification policy in areas under its control in northern Syria." This takes several forms: demographic (pushing Kurds out, Turkmen and Sunni Arabs in), economic (heavy infrastructure investment, controlling the olive trade, making the Turkish lira the de facto currency, etc.), and educational (e.g., making Turkish language instruction mandatory in hundreds of schools). "The question is not whether the Turkish state is seeking to annex northern Syria," Baker concludes, "but rather when."
Daniel Pipes addresses one of the strangest anomalies of the modern Arab world: "[D]isaster on the battlefield can be politically useful ... [M]ilitary losses have hardly ever scathed Arabic-speaking rulers and sometimes benefited them."
Six factors help account for this anomaly: the importance of honor in Arab culture (such that "maintaining it can count more than what is actually achieved" on the battlefield in the eyes of a leader's subjects); widespread fatalism (such that subjects see military defeat as Allah's will and thus "do not blame the leader"); conspiracism (subjects imagine enemy capabilities and objectives to be so vast that merely surviving the war is considered a victory); the power of bombast in Arab political life ("causing leaders and followers alike to be captivated by the power of words even if unrelated to reality"); publicity (e.g. sympathetic global press coverage); and the confusion that prevails when subjects lack access to accurate information.
The Middle East Forum promotes American interests in the region and protects Western civilization from Islamism. It does so through a combination of original ideas, focused activism, and the funding of allies.
For immediate release
For more information, contact:
Gregg Roman, Director
+1 (215) 546 5406