Turkey: Fears of European Islamophobia

Turkey: Fears of European Islamophobia

Turkish newspaper Turkish Zaman against talks about the increasing violence against Muslims in Europe. The only problem is that they only have two possibly 'real' examples.

The paper first talks about five Turks killed in Belgium and the Netherlands, but then only mentions four cases. The police still don't know who killed Arzu Erbas and Mustafa Cicek,but racism or Islamophobia is not mentioned as a probable cause. I couldn't find mention of Ufuk Kayakusu. Mikail Tekin was apparently beaten to death by prison guards when he resisted being taken into solitary confinement.

Despite Today's Zaman's wishful thinking, at this moment none of these stories sound like Islamophobia.


The violent deaths of two Turkish citizens in Belgium and three others in the Netherlands earlier this month have stirred up controversy among the Turkish public, which feels that anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim hate crimes have started to take a toll on their countrymen in Europe.

Arzu Erbaş Çakmakçı, 33, was stabbed to death on Aug. 11 in Amsterdam by an unknown assailant outside the daycare center she owned. Although the motive for her murder remains a mystery, it is suspected that it could have been a xenophobic attack. In the same city, another Turkish citizen, 30-year-old Ufuk Kayakuşu, who owned a cleaning company, was found stabbed to death in his home on Aug. 14.

The death of a Turkish citizen, Mikail Tekin, 31, in Belgium's Jamioulx Prison on Aug. 8, apparently after being subjected to torture as indicated in his autopsy report, sparked outcry among the Turkish public, prompting a diplomatic protest by Ankara to Belgian officials. Tekin had originally been detained after a brawl with traffic police.

In another Belgian city, Gent, Turkish citizen Mustafa Çiçek, 32, was shot to death in his home after returning from a vacation with his wife in Turkey. The couple was attacked by two masked man.


Çakmakçı's murder was a case in point, and it looks very much like a hate crime against Muslims. She was a successful headscarved businesswoman in Amsterdam and was running the Moeders Schoot childcare center, which 350 children attended, in the Geuzenveld district of the city. Her father was quick to pinpoint spreading racism and xenophobia in the Netherlands as the motive for her stabbing.

Human rights advocate Karagöz says he has difficulty understanding how hate crimes can spread like cancer in a country which champions human rights and advocates the promotion of those rights in the international arena. “I guess the Dutch authorities have now realized that they also have xenophobic problems in their own backyards,” he said.

The rise in hate crimes targeting Muslims is becoming a concern for many international human right groups as well. The US-based Human Rights First (HRF), which closely monitors hate crimes and discrimination, underlines that attacks on Muslims and those who are perceived as Muslims are sharply increasing. In recent reports, the HRF pointed out that governments are not doing enough to address the problem and in some cases use anti-Muslim rhetoric to capitalize on the overall climate of fear and misunderstanding of Muslims and Islam.

Amid increasing violence against Muslims in Europe, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has decided to open a representative office and appoint an ambassador to Brussels to fight against Islamophobia in Europe more effectively. “This office will provide the West and Islam with the opportunity to work coherently,” said Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the Turkish secretary-general of the organization, to Sunday's Zaman in June.

The office will cooperate with the European Parliament and the European Council to develop initiatives for interfaith and intercultural dialogue and institute contacts with nongovernmental organizations. The office will also be effective in efforts aimed at preventing discrimination against Muslims and fighting anti-Islamic propaganda. “Of course fighting anti-Islamic propaganda is one of the main aims of the office. Intercultural and interfaith dialogue constitute the priorities of the office in Brussels,” İhsanoğlu said.


Source: Today's Zaman

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