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Our Dead vs Your Dead

Our Dead vs Your Dead

It’s an interesting controversy. And useful to understand the stubborn dynamics of Islamist thinking.

The topic being whether Muslims, as the hadith commands, should respectfully mourn the dead (The hadith says: “… even if the deceased had notoriety for being an evildoer Prophet Mohammed said they should be remembered [or mentioned] with benevolence…), the controversy, once again, shed light to one of the pillars of political Islam: discourtesy for the “other,” because the “other” is the “infidel” who does not deserve benevolence – even when dead.

Yeni Akit, a daily newspaper and a more-than-staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is widely known with its militant Islamist past and present. One of its common journalistic practices is to curse any deceased whom the newspaper deems infidel/Zionist/traitor/terrorist/crusader plus you name it; practically categorised as “anyone who does not think, believe and practice like we do.”

After the recent death of a theatre actress, known with her secular views, Yeni Akit returned to its Islamist journalistic book of rules and followed the pattern. In protest, Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan, himself a former Islamist, reminded Yeni Akit of the hadith that commands Muslims to respect the dead. “Always remember your dead with benevolence.”

This columnist, always curious about the intellectual codes of Islamist thinking, enthusiastically waited for an explanation from Yeni Akit. If these Islamists are so grossly violating a well-known hadith they should have an explanation – and least to convince themselves, if not the others. And they always have an explanation.

Yeni Akit’s reply to Mr Hakan came a day after, and it offered us non-Islamist souls [infidels, in Islamist lexicon] a fascinating opportunity to further decipher political Islam and the age-old question of why political Islam is about rage, not peace.

Yeni Akit’s editorial response to Mr Hakan essentially argued that:

Yes, there is the hadith that commands Muslims to respect “your dead.” And we do so. About “our dead,” Yeni Akit explained, explicitly telling Mr Hakan that “the other dead are not our dead.” So, in this thinking the Islamists have “their dead and other dead” and they are not obliged to respect the other dead.

Fine, gentlemen, do remember your dead with benevolence and ours with curses and blasphemy. Your shy, subtle appeals to the civilised world that “political Islam is well compatible with universal norms of democracy” look more and more ridiculous.

About The Author

Burak Bekdil

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based Turkish political columnist who wrote for Hurriyet Daily News [formerly Turkish Daily News] for 29 years. He has covered Turkey for the U.S. weekly Defense News since 1997. Previously, Bekdil worked as Ankara Bureau Chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He contributes to annual national defense sector reviews for anti-corruption institutions like Transparency International and Global Integrity. Bekdil is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Middle East Quarterly. He also contributes to Perspectives, a journal of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv.James Cuno, art historian and President of the J. Paul Getty Trust, describes Bekdil as "a frequent critic of Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan." In 2001, a Heavy Crimes Court in Ankara sentenced Bekdil to a suspended, 20-month prison sentence for his column in which he satirized corruption in the judiciary.Bekdil's comments, quotes and articles have been published in international media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, The Commentator, New York Times, Kathimerini, National Review Online, Algemeiner, NPR, Washington Times, Die Presse, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Toronto Star, Financial Times, Al-Monitor, Le Figaro, ABC, El Pais, Stern, Al-Arabiya, Helsingin Sanomat, Racjonalista, Defence Greece, Moyen-Orient, Courier International, ISN Security Watch and Coloquio (of Congreso Judio Latinoamerico) and the Jewish Chronicle (London).(Born: Ankara, 1966; Undergraduate: Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; Post-graduate: Department of Economics, University of Surrey, United Kingdom)

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