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memri
April 26, 2006 No.
1147

Turkey's Islamist Dailies Spread Anti-American, Antisemitic Incitement

Since the AKP rose to power in Turkey, the country's Islamist media has freely disseminated venomous anti-American and antisemitic allegations, propaganda, and conspiracy theories. [1] This campaign has been led by Islamist Turkish dailies such as Vakit, Milli Gazete, and Yeni Safak (which is close to the AKP government and especially to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan). These newspapers have published stories about the U.S.'s alleged use of chemical and low-grade nuclear weapons in Iraq and U.S. soldiers' alleged systematic rape of Iraqi girls, and have blamed the U.S. for the December 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia and for the August 1999 Istanbul earthquake. [2]

The marketing divisions of these papers distribute anti-American DVDs, books, and CDs at no charge or at very low and clearly subsidized prices. [3] These dailies also glorify terrorism, and disseminate antisemitic messages, including praise of Hitler, Holocaust denial, and passages from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

This report focuses on a two-part Vakit interview with a Turkish prisoner, claimed to have been recently extradited to Turkey from Guantanamo. Vakit has been banned in Germany because of its antisemitism, and Germany has demanded that the Turkish government either implement or pass the necessary laws to rein in the paper.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, Vakit journalists are invited to official events, granted interviews with government ministers, and frequently accompany PM Erdogan in his private plane on his official trips.

The following are excerpts from the Vakit interview: [4]

The Women Soldiers Tore My Clothes Off and Attacked Me Verbally and Physically

Vakit: "Ibrahim Sen, [aged] 25, is from Van. Because of his deep interest in Islamic studies he traveled to Afghanistan. When his madrassa was bombed [by the U.S.] he wanted to return to Turkey, unaware of the fact that this road would take him to Guantanamo. Sen, who was detained in the Guantanamo base for two years and three months, told Vakit [the story of] his time there, which will, in a most striking way, shed light on the mentality that the Islamic world […] is facing. Sen's story terrifies us. [...]

"In the next two days, you will read the [story], made public for the first time, about the resistance and events at Guantanamo, as well as information that will take your breath away […]"

Sen: "[First] the Americans [...] took us to a U.S. base in Kandahar. [...] As soon as we entered the military base, the U.S. soldiers attacked us with iron [bars]. They divided us into groups of five, threw us on the cement floor, and beat each of us […] at least for half an hour. Then, 10 American women soldiers took me to an interrogation room; of course my hands and feet were chained. There I saw [pages from] the Koran scattered on the floor; they had written insults on the Koran pages. The women soldiers tore my clothes and attacked me verbally and physically. My head and face were bloody because they were beating me with iron [bars]. […] This was a true nightmare [...] The women soldiers gave me blue overalls and transferred me to the men soldiers. They cut my hair and beard. I was passing out because of their torture.

"During the next week, my friends and I were tortured without a break. […] They gave us numbers and threw us in cells. My number was 274. Cell tortures began. We stayed at the Kandahar U.S. base for 40 days, and during the entire time, we were not allowed to sleep for more than half an hour. If you fell asleep, they would come in with their dogs and attack you. If you were injured, say with a broken arm, they would cut it off. […]"

Guantanamo "Was Filled With Jews"; "A Rabbi was Present at Interrogations"

Ibrahim Sen: "Torture time began. The Jewish commander Yasef said, while electrocuting my body, 'You Turkish terrorist, […] it will be soon. After Iraq, Iran and Syria, it will be Turkey's turn. Your women will be our servants and your men our slaves. When we get to Istanbul first thing we will do is burn the tomb of your grandfather [Sultan] Abdulhamid' [emphasis in original].'

"[In Guantanamo,] they leave you alone in the room of insanity. They sit you on a chair, connect various cables to different parts of your body. When they turn them on, you started hallucinating. You hear weird and frightening sounds in your ears and you want to die. At least 400 prisoners who entered this room attempted suicide, and 90 lost their sanity."

Vakit: "How was the morale among the prisoners?"

Sen: "Despite all the tortures, morale is alive among the Guantanamo prisoners. Sacred dreams help with this. […] One day an Afghani brother called to a Kuwaiti sage and told him that he had dreamed that the Prophet [Muhammed] had spoken to him and said that Allah had not forgotten them and that the angels were watching them - and that a good surprise was awaiting them […]

Vakit: "How were you received at Guantanamo?"

Sen: "The same way as at the military base in Kandahar. We were received with attacks by U.S. soldiers. Even though we were chained and our heads were covered, they kept beating us. My entire body was bleeding. I passed out. When I woke, I was in an interrogation room. They had removed the sack from my head. Facing me were 10 soldiers with Jewish skullcaps on their heads, four women and six men, and a Turkish translator. […] One of the soldiers instructed the women soldiers to strip me. The women soldiers cut my clothes with scissors and left me […] naked. […]"

Vakit: "You mentioned soldiers with skullcaps. Were there many of these at Guantanamo?"

Sen: "I can tell you. Ninety percent of the soldiers at Guantanamo wore skullcaps. They all had Jewish names. There were also 15 rabbis in Guantanamo that we counted. At least one rabbi was present during interrogations […]"

Vakit: "For how long did you stay in the interrogation room?"

Sen: "I was subjected to continuous torture for 10 days straight. They kept asking me where Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar could be found. […] Then they took me to another room where there was a TV. They made me watch an immoral film. They beat me and gave me more electricity whenever I lowered my head. After that, two soldiers carried out [sexual] activity with one another in front of everyone. A woman soldier asked me to do the same. […] When I refused, they took me to the 'insanity room.' […]"

Vakit: "[…] What did you do in your cells every day?"

Sen: "We read the Koran all the time […] and organized some protests. […] We sang marches praising Osama bin Laden […] We called out slogans that the victory promised by Allah would soon be delivered, that the jihad fighters would win and that Islam would be victorious […]"

Secular Daily: "Vakit Respected by AKP Government"

In her April 13, 2006 column in the centrist, secular daily Sabah, Asli Aydintasbas reacted strongly to the Vakit interview, calling it "crude antisemitism for the ignorant, similar to [the movie] Valley of The Wolves - Iraq, in which a Jewish-American doctor cuts up Iraqis to send their organs for sale in Tel Aviv. […] A crude provocation that caused synagogues in this country to be bombed and people to be killed [emphasis in original]."

She continued: "Yet Vakit, which was shut down in Germany, is respected by the [AKP] government [...] [Its correspondents are] invited on the prime minister's private plane during his official trips; it is accorded interviews by cabinet members; [and] a few days ago [its journalists] were at the Foreign Minister's residence [emphasis in original]."


[1] For more Special Dispatches from MEMRI's Turkish Media Project, please visit: http://www.memri.org/turkey.html.

[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 870, "Anti-Americanism in the Turkish Media," February 25, 2005, Anti-Americanism in the Turkish Media.

[3] For example, 500,000 copies of a book published jointly by 13 foundations and organizations commemorating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad have been handed to passersby at distribution stands throughout Istanbul. The book cites hate propaganda in the form of many hadiths (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad) vilifying Jews, including the hadith of the gharqad tree, which prophesies that the Muslims will kill the Jews at the end of days. When the Jewish community of Istanbul learned of this campaign from an April 16, 2006 report in the Turkish daily Vatan, they filed a complaint against this kind of distribution with the Istanbul authorities. In response, the Istanbul mufti issued a statement saying, "It is saddening that this publication included anti-Jewish material, which stems from ignorance," but no action was taken against the distributors of the book.

[4] Vakit, April 10, April 11, 2006.