Any credibility that the Washington Post gained from publishing the critical writings of Jamal Khashoggi - the Saudi journalist and government insider-turned dissident purportedly murdered at the behest of Prince Mohammad bin Salman last year - has just been squandered.
Despite him provoking an intense backlash from Australian and New Zealand for showing clips from the Christchurch shooter's deranged massacre footage, and threatening to send any hostile Aussies and Kiwis traveling to Turkey for ANZAC Day (the commemoration of the lives lost during the WWI battle of Gallipolli) home in caskets, WaPo has decided to publish an op-ed penned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Wednesdays paper, giving one of the most repressive leaders in the Muslim world a platform to denounce terrorism and liken western anti-Islamic extremists to ISIS.
Offering an uncritical platform to one of the Muslim world's most brutal and repressive autocrats, the Jeff Bezos-owned paper - which has established itself as one of the preeminent critics of the Trump Administration - allowed Erdogan to whitewash his own record of jailing journalists and repressing minority groups like the Kurds. Instead, giving him a platform to portray himself as a crusader (no pun intended) against Islamophobia and violence against Muslims in any form.
Most unconscionably, WaPo allowed Erdogan to misrepresent Turkey's record of turning a blind eye to ISIS during the caliphate's infancy, while calling on Western leaders to suppress "racism, Islamphobia and xenophobia" whereever they might find it. However, as one journalist pointed out, while there are many leaders in the Muslim world who have the credibility to opine on these issues, Erdogan, considering his own human rights record, isn't one of them.
In the editorial, Erdogan highlighted comments made by the Christchurch shooter in his manifesto calling for the re-conquest of Turkey by Christians, and calling for all Muslim Turks to live east of the Bosphorous Strait, considered the dividing line between Europe and Asia.
There are plenty of Muslim leaders who have the moral standing to write an article like this. Erdogan is not one of them. Great job WaPo https://t.co/uyAYztMqMZ— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) March 20, 2019
Read the text below:
Fifty innocent people lost their lives in last week’s terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. Dozens of other Muslims, who had gathered at local mosques to perform the Friday prayer, survived the assault with injuries. There were many historical references on the murder weapons and in a manifesto that the suspected terrorist published online. The number of times he mentioned both Turkey and myself was both curious and worth deeper consideration.
In the wake of the New Zealand attack, Turkish authorities discovered that Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the alleged gunman, had visited Turkey twice in 2016 and spent time in various parts of the country. Moreover, we established that Tarrant traveled to a number of other places — including Morocco, Israel and Croatia. Turkish intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in cooperation with New Zealand and others, continue their efforts to shed light on what happened and to prevent future attacks.
The Christchurch massacre’s alleged perpetrator attempted to legitimize his twisted views by distorting world history and the Christian faith. He sought to plant seeds of hate among fellow humans. As a leader who has repeatedly stressed that terrorism has no religion, language or race, I categorically reject any attempt to associate last week’s terrorist attacks with the teachings, morals or maxims of Christianity. If anything, what happened in New Zealand was the toxic product of ignorance and hate.
This is not the first time the Turkish people have witnessed a gross distortion of history in the hands of terrorists. Viewing history through the lens of its radical ideology, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, a terrorist organization that has killed thousands of predominantly Muslim civilians in recent years, called for the “reconquest” of Istanbul - much like the Christchurch attacker, who pledged in his manifesto to make the city “rightfully christian owned once more.” The Islamic State similarly vowed to destroy the Republic of Turkey - one of the reasons Turkish troops cracked down so hard on the terror group in Syria.
In this regard, we must establish that there is absolutely no difference between the murderer who killed innocent people in New Zealand and those who have carried out terrorist acts in Turkey, France, Indonesia and elsewhere.
After attacks by the Islamic State, there was no shortage of Western politicians and commentators blaming the most deplorable acts of terrorism on Islam and Muslims — people whose opinions are very much aligned with the Australian senator Fraser Anning. At the time, we objected to the association of our faith with terrorism, and pledged to disallow any attempt by terrorists to hijack our religion.
Unfortunately, Islamophobia and xenophobia, among other practices incompatible with liberal values, were met with silence in Europe and other parts of the Western world. We cannot afford to allow this again. If the world wants to prevent future assaults similar to the one in New Zealand, it must start by establishing that what happened was the product of a coordinated smear campaign.
It should go without saying that the Turkish people won’t just abandon their centuries-old homeland because the terrorists demand it. Nor will we ever let deranged murderers talk us into targeting any religious community, nation or group. Heir to the Ottoman Empire, which was a member of the European family of nations for centuries, Turkey joined the alliance against terrorism immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Having joined NATO more than 60 years ago, we consider it our strategic goal to become a full member of the European Union.
By the same token, we will continue to cooperate with our friends and allies in the fight against all terrorist groups.
In the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, the West has certain responsibilities. Western societies and governments must reject the normalization of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, which has been on the rise in recent years. It is crucial to establish that such twisted ideologies, such as anti-Semitism, amount to crimes against humanity. Moreover, we must shed light on all aspects of what happened and fully understand how the terrorist became radicalized and his links to terrorist groups to prevent future tragedies. Finally, all Western leaders must learn from the courage, leadership and sincerity of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, to embrace Muslims living in their respective countries.
The editorial elicited a slew of ridicule on twitter.
Democracy dies in darkness— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) March 20, 2019
Funniest fucking horse shit mission statement from a paper that gives a dude who holds a record for locking up journalists https://t.co/0aEl1HjNjk
Of course, WaPo isn't the first Western media outlet to paint a repressive, Islamist autocrat as a champion of liberal values.