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memri
August 2, 2005 No.
947

Turkish Press Reactions to the London Bombings

Turkish press reactions to the July 2005 London bombings reflect a consensus that the ultimate responsibility for the attacks lie with the U.K and the U.S. who according to some columnists were even behind the bombings. The reactions included in this report are by leading columnists for Turkey's mainstream, high-circulation daily newspapers such as Hurriyet, Milliyet, Zaman, Sabah, Vatan, Star and Tercuman, and left-of-center, liberal newspapers such as Cumhuriyet and Radikal, which are popular with Turkey's intellectual elite. The Islamist press has been excluded from this report, with the exception of one article that appeared in Vakit that only strengthened the consensus among all Turkey's major press outlets.

This Will Teach Them a Lesson – Its Payback

Columnist Emin Colasan, of the secular centrist, high-circulation daily Hurriyet, wrote: "Turkey has fought against the terror curse for years. It still does so. About 35,000 of our citizens have lost their lives in terror attacks. […] We lived with terror in our cities, villages, and everywhere, and we suffered. Terror attacks by the PKK, [1] and Hizbullah and other Islamist organizations, have killed many babies, grandfathers, grandmothers and pregnant women. We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars in the fight against terrorism. Instead of spending this money in the development of [Turkey's] eastern and southeastern regions, we purchased artillery, guns, bullets, planes and helicopters. PKK terror found major support in EU countries and Syria. And now it [PKK] is based in Northern Iraq, under the protection and umbrella of the U.S.

"[…] Greece had PKK camps. PKK's TV channels, broadcasting from European countries, pour out hatred for Turkey. Belgium refused to extradite the PKK terrorists. Countries such as Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, France, and England became home to PKK [terrorists]. [PKK Leader] Abdullah Ocalan was hosted by Italy. A few weeks ago, the front-page headline of a PKK newspaper published in Germany read: 'It is the turn of the big cities [in Turkey]. Now we will bomb those.' […] Germany, which turns a blind eye to all of this, has no shame.

"Turkey continues to live the dread of terror. Now they are bombing our trains, mines are exploding on our roads, and our soldiers are being martyred… And tactical and moral support is given by EU countries [to the terrorists]. Every day we have visitors from EU countries. All of them keep going to Diyarbakir. [2] […]

"Bombs exploded in London, many innocent people died. I am saddened for the innocent. But as we say: 'It's the stick [punishment] of God'!

"If they [i.e. the Europeans] live through a few more terror events, they might understand the pain Turkey has endured for years, and continues to endure.

"Maybe they will be more careful when they send delegations to Diyarbakir. Maybe they will look at the PKK, which they have aided and abetted, with a different eye. Maybe the likes of Germany will cease to permit the war cries of terrorists' newspapers. […]

"Maybe the pain inflicted by this sting [i.e. the London bombings] will teach them a lesson.

"If you hurt the underdog, there's bound to be a payback." [3]

A Lesson Should Be Learned by the Selfish Europeans

Columnist Oktay Eksi of Hurriyet wrote: "It was expected. But no one knew when it would happen. Finally, terror hit London yesterday.

"[…] We do not know what the terror acts in London can teach us [Turks], who are so experienced in terrorism. But it is our right to expect the selfish Europeans, who say 'other people's terrorism is their problem,' to learn some lessons from [these events]. [These lessons are needed] in particular by countries like Belgium, Greece, France, and Germany, who have provided shelter to known terrorists…" [4]

It was Probably the Mossad, the CIA, or MI5 That Placed the Bombs – If Not, Maybe it was Al-Qaeda!

In an article titled "Men Dakka Dukka," Turkish columnist Necati Dogru of the secular, liberal daily Vatan wrote: "In Arabic they say 'men dakka dukka '; the English say 'He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword'; and the Americans say, 'I f you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind' […]

"Baghdad was hit. Not just hit. It was destroyed. It was devastated.

"Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, men, and women, young and old civilians were killed in Baghdad. They are counting only the dead of the occupier American and English soldiers. Nobody knows the number of the dead Iraqi civilians. The estimate is 200,000. Newspapers published in New York and London call the Iraqi dead civilians 'war victims,' but when people died in the bombings in London or New York they are defined as 'terror victims.'

"London is hit too. You reap what you sow! […]

"Do not doubt this: We do condemn the terror that struck the heart of New York on September 11, and then Istanbul and Madrid, and now, on July 7, London, killing civilians. […]

"If it is not the American, Israeli, and English intelligence services who placed the explosives in London's civilian targets as part of their strategy – which the U.S. and England began in Iraq – to expand to all of the Middle East, maybe then [one can believe that] Al-Qaeda or some unknown group has struck London.

"[…] You reap what you sow!

"The U.K. and the U.S. dropped thousands of tons of bombs on Iraq, and murdered civilians with depleted uranium, on two pretexts: that Iraq had WMD and that Saddam Hussein was behind the September 11 terror attacks.

"Both proved to be lies. Bush and Blair confessed. It was all for nothing.[…]

"You reap what you sow!

"In my view, Bush and Blair are responsible for the death of over 50 people in London. These explosions will [now] boost American and English nationalism, and help Bush's and Blair's image among the English and American peoples." [5]

"Do the English Remember What Their Government is Doing in Iraq?"

Columnist Melih Asik, of the popular mainstream Turkish daily Milliyet, wrote: "It has been three and a half years since the bombing of the Twin Towers. The war that America calls 'war against terror' has been going on for three and a half years.

"In vain.

"When America hit Afghanistan after the Twin Towers, it was said and written: Terror cannot be stopped by wars… If America spent the money it pours into wars on the poor of the world, it would be more successful in the fight against terror.

"But of course, the U.S. had different goals. America's goal was not to fight terror, but use terror as an excuse to occupy oil-rich regions. England also supported these policies. After Afghanistan, with no justification, Iraq was invaded. The blood of tens of thousands of people was shed.

"And three and a half years later, London was hit, yesterday. Innocent people died… Al-Qaeda was condemned. Terror was criticized. At this time, would they remember the hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis killed in the so-called 'war against terror?'

"What about the drama that Turkey lives?… Turkey, which supported America's 'war against terror' in Afghanistan, sent its soldiers there. We provided a shoulder to the war against terror. But on our own land, we are being hit by the PKK [terror] which enjoys American protection [in northern Iraq].

"The civilians who died in London may appear to be casualties of the war against terror. But in reality, they are the victims of the barbarism and exploitation which are carried out in the name of 'war against terror.'

"While the English condemn terrorism, let's hope that they also remember what their government is doing in Iraq." [6]

The CIA and Mossad Financed Al-Qaeda Which Was Built by Huntington

Hasan Celal Guzel of the right-of-center, conservative daily Tercuman wrote: "[…] The Al-Qaeda terror organization was built by the famed strategist Samuel Huntington – rather, he had his good friend bin Laden, who shares his hostility towards Islam, build it for him. It is thought that the CIA and Mossad financed this organization.

"[By writing these lines,] I have used up my once-a-year right to write 'nonsense.' Yet if you closely examine the global terror fiasco of the bin Laden school, you will see that my ironic [sentences] are not completely nonsense.

"After the fall of the Iron Curtain, the West, behind the leadership of the U.S., designated Islam as the great threat. There is no doubt that the 'Clash of Civilizations' thesis of Huntington, who is closely tied to the U.S. secret services, greatly influenced the acceptance of [Islam as a threat]. The West divided Islam into 'radical' and 'moderate,' conceptualizing it as a religion that contains 'violence' and a 'potential for terror.' The West's appetite for 'new Crusades' was incited by [Huntington's] thesis. Yet these theoretical arguments were not sufficient to turn public opinion in the West against Islam.

"It was exactly at this point that bin Laden's Jihadist terror acts, [carried out] in the name of Islam, came to the rescue of anti-Islamists such as Huntington, the Western politicians seeking an excuse to justify their expansionist greed, and the Church that wanted to accelerate its missionary activities.

"If in England – which up to yesterday was the country most tolerant of Muslims – people can now be killed just because they are Muslims, this is 'thanks' to Al-Qaeda. Bin Laden is the greatest 'enemy of Islam.' The West's Crusaders must decorate bin Laden with a 'Medal of Service to Christianity.'

"The Islamic world, burdened with undeserved guilt, must not be silent; it must declare to the world that bin Laden and his friends are 'enemies of Islam.'

"[…] Al-Qaeda was built by Huntington!" [7]

If the Terrorists Are Wrong, Why Should Bush and His Ilk Be Right?

Columnist Umur Talu of the high-circulation, centrist secular daily Sabah wrote: "[…] Did the 'war against terror' launched by the U.S. after September 11, and the invasions that followed, really prevent terror? Do Bush's repeated statements [that] 'we are fighting them there so we don't have to fight them at home' have any meaning for the common people? Did occupying countries and killing people on this so-called pretext prove [useful] in preventing 'wars,' or did it bring the war to the streets of Istanbul [and] to the trains of Madrid and London, and further incite the 'terror that targets common civilians?'

"[The fact that] the 'terrorists are never right' should not make Bush and his ilk right and legitimate […] How are we going to differentiate between 'terror that strikes not at the powerful but at the innocent common people' and state actions that kill innocent people [and] target weak countries in the name of civilization? How are we going to distinguish between the unlawful and inhuman terrorism and the super-state that, against all international laws, attacks, invades, occupies, and then escapes judgment by the international court?

"Just because our prime minister said all of a sudden 'We are partners with the U.S. in the Middle East,' must we turn into lackeys [and] lose our conscience and our ability to think? […] [8]

"Bush and Blair Endangered Not Only the Lives of Iraqis, But The Lives of Their Own Citizens"

Zulfu Livaneli of the secular mainstream Turkish daily Vatan wrote in his column: "People show mixed feelings [about the London bombings]. There are those who even said: 'It's good that it happened.

"These attacks were seen as retaliation for the bloodbath taking place in Iraq […]

"[…] Bombs explode in Iraq every day, people are killed every day. But none of this creates the reactions that the New York or London explosions create.

"These are regarded as ordinary matters that are not newsworthy – as if Iraq's civilians deserve to die. Whereas the life of an English [man] is not more valuable than that of an Iraqi.

"An Eastern child feels pain just like a Western child's does.

"The hearts of mothers weep for their dead babies the same way all around the world.

"[…] When they started the war, Bush and Blair endangered not only the lives of Iraqis but the lives of their own citizens too.

"Yesterday it was London that was hit; who knows what else will happen in the coming months. […]

"The problem is in the wrong workings of the minds of politicians." [9]

Al-Qaeda Serves Western Imperialist Interests

Columnist A. Turan Alkan of the right-of-center moderate-Islamic, top-circulation Turkish daily Zaman wrote: "[…] It is impossible not to be suspicious about the purpose for which Al-Qaeda was 'built' when one looks at how it indirectly serves the policies of globalization.

"It is generally and widely accepted that [Al-]Qaeda is a murderous gang of terrorists which is headed by Osama bin Laden and whose entire membership is made up of Muslims. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the leadership of the organization has been hiding in the Afghan mountains and organizing terror attacks directed at the Western lifestyle and democratic values.

"By the look of it, this is a quite sensible and credible story. For its credibility to continue, Al-Qaeda periodically carries out spectacular attacks in Western capitals, and at times when there is no terrorism, our belief in the existence of the organization is kept alive by b in Laden's various hostile statements, that keep popping up in some websites and news agencies. The fact that the coalition forces that invaded Afghanistan in order to destroy Al-Qaeda have to date been unsuccessful adds a mystical dimension to this myth.

"With every new murderous Al-Qaeda act, […] official and public pressure on the Muslims in the West increases, and in countries known to be the best examples of tolerance and co-existence, they [i.e. the Muslims] face increasing social isolation.

"So Al-Qaeda must be a stupid organization – for it is thanks to it that Muslims are being rejected by the Western world. Muslim countries are under political pressure, Iraq and Afghanistan are occupied, and life in these countries becomes a hell. In addition, the image of Muslims in world public opinion becomes that of fanatic, hostile, murderous people who blindly kill innocent civilians.

"[…] I suspect that in the new world order that began with the policies of globalization, Al-Qaeda is rather in the service of the imperialistic goals of the West.

"Look at the last five years: If it wasn't for the Al-Qaeda factor, would America's expansionism have gained the legitimacy that it now has?" [10]

"Osama bin Laden is a Product [Made in the] U.S.A."

Many columnists for the left-of-center liberal intellectual daily Cumhuriyet wrote in reaction to the July 7 London bombings. They shared the belief that the victims of acts of terror are the ones actually responsible for these attacks. The following are excerpts from some of these columns.

Ali Sirmen wrote: "When the powerful oppressor declares a local war on the oppressed, overwhelming them with their superior weaponry, terror becomes the response of the oppressed: 'No, my friend, I will not allow this war to remain local - just as you attack me on my soil, I will attack you on yours.'

"If this last act of terror delivers the meaningful message that 'you reap what you sow, in your subways and in your buses,' why do we say it [terrorism] is useless, and [why do we] condemn it? I think the only reason that terror is useless is because instead of inflicting damage on its targets, it serves them by strengthening their hand. […] The events of September 11 did not weaken the American Empire – they rendered it more arrogant, openly hostile, and reckless." [11]

Sukran Soner wrote: "The intellectuals and thinkers of the wealthy northern countries explain that in the current terror trap in which the world finds itself, the accomplices to these crimes in the first degree are: President Bush, his hawks, the policies of followers like Blair, and their policies of invading Iraq and Afghanistan.

"When measuring barbarism, there can be no difference between those who have the power of education, superior arms, and money, and the poor who turn themselves into bombs in their fight against their enemy.

"[…] The barbarism of the crimes against humanity committed by the U.S. and U.K. military in Iraq is of the same level as the barbarism of those who killed civilians in the [London] subways. It is also barbarism when you value the lives of those from rich countries more than those from poor and deprived countries." [12]

Oktay Akbal wrote: "If you use aggression as your weapon, your adversary will also use aggression with the means available to him. He can turn into a live bomb, ready to give his life for his ideals. When you call those who oppose you 'barbaric' or 'primitive,' you must remember that it is really you who become barbaric![…]

"This is a war that has been fought for centuries, between the oppressed and the oppressors… It is the uprising of the oppressed, against the oppression of the weak by the powerful…" [13]

Deniz Som wrote: "We believe that the main goals of the U.S. in the midst of these [terror] events are to target the Islamic countries and to eliminate any civil, military and intelligence barriers to its 'Greater Middle East Initiative.'[…]

"The reason for Islam being attacked in this process is the desire to eliminate the concept of 'Jihad.' The concept of 'Jihad,' which is 'the ability to die,' constitutes the West's weakest point." [14]

Erol Manisali wrote: "It would be the greatest mistake to interpret the terror events in London by saying that 'there is an Al-Qaeda, and it is the cause.'

"Terrorism and radical organizations like Al-Qaeda are results [not causes]. Sometimes they are the direct products of imperialism, and sometimes they are a reaction to imperialism. Unless the causes that bring on this reaction are eliminated, terrorism cannot be prevented. The main reason for the birth of terrorism is imperialism. As long as there are military offenses, occupations, bombings, killings, poverty, misery, hunger, and uneven distribution of income, there will also be terrorism.

"Terror can appear as a tool or as a reaction. Imperialist countries use terror as a tool. Those who use it as a reaction are the countries oppressed by the imperialists. […] In the post-Cold War era, the attacks that the U.S. and some European countries started in the name of 'globalization' have become the source of post-1990s terrorism.

"[…] Osama bin Laden is a product [made in the] U.S.A." [15]

Bin Laden and Terrorism Are the Products of Western Aggression

Most columnists for the left-of-center liberal daily Radikal questioned the war in Iraq rather than the recent bombing in London. It was their view that the responsibility for the attacks lies primarily on the shoulders of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. The following are excerpts from some columns.

Murat Belge wrote: "[…] [On the screen we saw] Bush – who had invaded Iraq saying, 'They have weapons of mass destruction there that I must destroy,' and 'He [Saddam Hussein] has ties with bin Laden that I must sever' – and his assistant Blair!

"But there are no weapons of mass destruction, and there is no sign of cooperation with Al-Qaeda – not a hint! So what are you doing? All the Abu Ghuraibs, looted museums, and so many dead – why did all this happen? […]

"There is something wrong in the present order of the world, in its balances. Something that stinks. The likes of Osama are direct products of this. Osama is not the cause of many things, but the result of many things." [16]

Yildirim Turker wrote: "[…] The war was not even on the agenda anymore. The world's great leaders were in an impressive meeting, getting together with […] rock [stars] to stage a show for 'saving Africa' – the same black Africa that they had for centuries exploited and left to die. These 'masters of the world' had an air about them that granted legitimacy to the Iraq war. […]

"When thousands of children were blown to pieces by bombs in Iraq, when hospitals were bombed, when museums were looted, when photographs of tortured and assaulted Iraqis were passed from hand to hand like dirty postcards, when Guantanamo's doors were closed to international inspectors, when oppression and discrimination could not be investigated – how could these warring countries expect calm and happiness in their cities? Wouldn't blood call for blood? […]

"If you Bush, and you Blair, bomb children in Baghdad, their bin Ladens will bomb towers and subways in New York and London. This is exactly how wars are." [17]

"Payback Time for Iraq!"

Hasan Karakaya, columnist for the Islamist Turkish daily Vakit, wrote: "It was Friday, July 8. A day earlier, London, had been struck by bombs exploding one after the other, and it looked like a battle field. News were pouring… 'Screams!'...'Crying!'... 'Panic!' Just like the 'everyday scenes' in Iraq… in Afghanistan…in Palestine… in Chechnya! […]

"[…] After discussions at Vakit, this 'headline' was decided upon: 'Payback Time for Iraq!' Wasn't it true? […] Those who sowed the wind were reaping the whirlwind! It was time for England's payback for Iraq!

"[…] When every day in Iraq was like England, every minute in Baghdad like 'only one day' in London […] when this was a picture that the 'occupiers' had brought upon themselves – 'eulogizing the English [dead]' would be neither sincere nor honest […] It would be ignoring the pain of the 'oppressed,' and 'applauding the oppressors' – things we would not do!

"So we used 'Payback Time for Iraq!' for the headline. […] As usual, we were the only ones to do so. When others 'condemned terrorism,' we drew attention to […] Baghdad and Fallujah! […]

"Because we voiced the truth, we were attacked. […] Some accused us of using the same language as Al-Qaeda! […]

"Let's see what happened the next day…. and look at the commentaries and editorials of July 9: What do we see? All the local and foreign 'writers,' politicians, and representatives of NGOs unanimously expressed views along the same line as Vakit 's.

"The leading ones were: English journalist Robert Fisk […], Zulfu Livaneli [of Vatan], […] Emin Colasan [of Hurriyet], who wrote much more harshly than Vakit […], we refrained from going as far as [Necati Dogru of Vatan] did. […]

"As you can see, the truths that Vakit expressed in [four] words [i.e. 'Payback Time for Iraq'], on the very first day after the July 7 bombings, were shared by all sensible people… Only 'one day after Vakit' and in a 'more extreme way than Vakit '! This shows that 'there is only one way to speak the truth!'" [18]


[1] PKK [later named Contra-Gel] Kurdistan Workers Party, a Marxist, separatist Kurdish organization which is listed in the USA 'terrorist organizations list'.

[2] Diyarbakir is a city in southeast Turkey, where there is a concentrated Kurdish population.

[3] Hurriyet (Turkey), July 9, 2005.

[4] Hurriyet (Turkey), July 8, 2005.

[5] Vatan (Turkey), July 9, 2005.

[6] Milliyet (Turkey), July 8, 2005.

[7] Tercuman (Turkey), July 15, 2005.

[8] Sabah (Turkey), July 10, 2005.

[9] Vatan (Turkey), July 9, 2005.

[10] Zaman (Turkey), July 9, 2005.

[11] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), July 9, 2005.

[12] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), July 9, 2005.

[13] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), July 10, 2005.

[14] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), July 10, 2005.

[15] Cumhuriyet (Turkey), July 11, 2005.

[16] Radikal (Turkey), July 10, 2005.

[17] Radikal (Turkey), July 11, 2005.

[18] Vakit (Turkey), July 10, 2005.