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Turkey Launches International Mosque-Building Program

In this 2008 file photo, Albanian Muslims pray to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Turkey is planning to build a mosque for Albanians in Tirana.
In this 2008 file photo, Albanian Muslims pray to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Turkey is planning to build a mosque for Albanians in Tirana.
Turkey Mosque Building Program

Turkey currently is building 18 large Islamic religious centers around the world. The projects include a mosque in Tirana, Albania which will hold more than 4,000 worshippers. Turkey will also build mosques in the United States, Russia and Kyrgyzstan. It has similar projects set for the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the Palestinian Territories and Somalia.

Observers say President Erdoğan's goal is to establish Turkey as leader of the Muslim world. This was the country’s position during the Ottoman Empire, which ruled from the 14th century through the early 1900s.

Asli Aydintasbas writes about politics for Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper. She says the president cares very much about his historic legacy and his international legacy.

She also says he wants Turkey and the world to see him as a person who has advanced the interests of Islam and Muslims. She says this is why he so strongly supports the mosque-building project.

Yuksel Taskin is an expert on politics at Istanbul’s Marmara University. He says President Erdogan and his ruling AK Party share the goal of returning Turkey to the power of its Ottoman past.  

Mr. Taskin says the party is trying to re-create the golden age of Islamic civilization. He says the AKP see Turks as the leaders of such a rebirth.

The Diyanet is the government group that administers the Islamic faith in Turkey. President Erdoğan has expanded the group’s international office. Supporting religious education is a main element in Turkey’s campaign for greater influence over Islam internationally. Turkey has offered financial assistance to foreign students who want to attend its universities. The government also supports international student exchanges.

However, Turkey is not the only country interested in leading the Islamic world. Other Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia are also seeking to fill the role. For many years, Saudi Arabia has been spreading its oil money around Islamic countries.

Istar Gozaydin is a professor of religion and politics at Istanbul’s Doğuş University. She says the Balkans is the main region for the competition between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

She says she thinks the two countries once balanced each other in efforts to build mosques and create communities for them. But now, she says, it is more of a competition, especially in Bosnia

Experts say President Erdoğan may well be looking to the language of the street to rise above such obstacles. Increasingly, his speeches appear to be aimed at ordinary Muslims, in Turkey and around the world. His talks often include a strong anti-Western message.

Politics writer Asli Aydintasbas says the president is behaving as if he already leads the world's Muslims. She says she thinks Mr. Erdoğan believes he would be elected leader of the Muslim world if the community could hold such a vote.

President Erdogan is increasingly campaigning against what he considers the growing threat of Western "Islamophobia," – prejudice against or fear of the religion of Islam and Muslims.  He is also demanding that the United Nations Security Council create a permanent seat for a Muslim nation.

Observers warn that such rhetoric is likely to continue as Turkey’s campaign to lead the Islamic world progresses.

I’I'm Jim Tedder.

 

Dorian Jones reported this story. Marsha James adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Tags: International, Launches, Mosque-Building, Program, Turkey

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Replies to This Discussion

Imagine the outcry if China or Russia started building communist party headquarters throughout the West.  But of course, the master race can do it for their 'religion', with impunity.

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Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom of Movement
The government can import new voters - except where that changes the political demographics (i.e. electoral fraud by means of immigration)
4. SP Freedom from Over-spending
People should not be charged for government systems which they reject, and which give them no benefit. For example, the government cannot pass a debt burden across generations (25 years).
An additional Freedom from Religion is be deducible by equal application of law: "Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight - except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

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