We are only two days into the annual joint convention of the Muslim-American Society (MAS) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). Islamist Watch has previously written about the MAS-ICNA conference and its many extremist speakers, leading to Keith Ellison's withdrawal. But we weren't expecting the conference to become a propaganda event for Reccep Tayyip Erdogan.
Today, Turkish president Erdogan's daughter, Sumeyye Erdogan Bayraktar, addressed the MAS-ICNA conference, peddling the official line (for which they have little evidence) that the recent coup attempt was the work of the "Fethullah Terror Organization" (FETO), which is how the regime now refers to the followers of Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gülen.
Bayraktar called FETO more dangerous than the Islamic State: "It is easier to turn some hopeless, desperate, uneducated people into militants. They have little to lose.... FETO on the other hand takes possession of the minds and hearts of well-educated doctors, engineers, generals, scientists [because of] its highly hierarchical and closed system using the method of dissimulation." In response, she said, "Our state will defend the integrity, security and public will of our country with full vigor and force..."
The audience responded with "thunderous applause." And convention chair Hussein Ata obligingly stated that "[W]e all pray for a safe and prosperous Turkey under the leadership of President Erdogan."
Of course, such adulation is only natural given Erdogan's prodigious achievements. Since the coup, Turkish security has arrested thousands of soldiers, as might be expected—but Erdogan has gone much further, arresting over 2500 judges, 15,000 teachers, and demanding the resignation of every university dean in the country. It is generally believed that Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to purge Gülen's followers from positions of authority, finally crippling a faction that used to be his close ally.
By supporting Erdogan's crippling of Turkish democracy, the MAS-ICNA's convention organizers seem to realizing their Islamist roots. After all, Erdogan famously said in 1997 that "democracy is like a train. We shall get out when we arrive at the station we want." Perhaps ICNA would like to ride the Erdogan train – its Islamist ideology does call for the takeover of political institutions (something we only know because it was exposed in a 2010 members' handbook).
On the other hand, MAS-ICNA's motives may be more simple. Erdogan has been spreading the wealth around the Islamist community in the United States for some time now. In 2013, Erdogan was briefed by officials of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), who asked for Turkish contributions to its charitable activities. His daughter referenced Turkey's charitable contributions around the globe in her MAS-ICNA speech, saying that beneficiaries included Palestinians, Somalis, and Haitians. In lavishing praise on Erdogan, MAS and ICNA are surely angling for some support of their own.
Either way, to those of us watching, MAS-ICNA's embrace of Erdogan is a Turkish delight that is hard to swallow.