By Abdullah Bozkurt
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt comprise the “Devil’s Triangle,” said Hayrettin Karaman, chief fatwa (religious edict) giver for Turkish President Recep Tayyip and a leading ideologue for the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood.
Writing for the pro-Iran Yeni Şafak daily on May 5, 2019, Karaman lashed out at all three countries as well as Bahrain for designating the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS) as a terrorist entity. Karaman, an 84-year-old professor who is called the Turkish version of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, was elected vice president of IAMS at a major convention held in Turkey in November 2018.
Karaman described IAMS as an organization that endeavors to liberate Muslims in Islamic countries from oppressive dictators who seized power and are servants of the enemies of Islam. In a previous article he wrote on May 3, 2019, Karaman accused Egypt, Saudi Arabia and some Gulf States of helping realize the plans of Israel and the United States for the Islamic world including handing over Palestine to the Jewish state and assassinating those who oppose their plans. He claimed that US President Donald Trump has been deceived by his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, about the Brotherhood, which the US leader is prepared to designate a terrorist organization.
Karaman is an ardent supporter of Erdoğan’s repressive Islamist regime in Turkey, where over half a million innocent members of the government-critical Gülen movement including tens of thousands of women and hundreds of children have been jailed in the last three years. The Erdoğan regime has imprisoned 191 journalists, more than the rest of the world governments combined, and purged and/or jailed half the country’s generals and one-third of its diplomats, judges and prosecutors on fabricated terrorism charges. Neither Karaman nor Qaradawi have uttered even a slight criticism of the massive rights violations including killings, torture and enforced disappearances in Turkey that have been well documented by human rights groups.
In fact, this radical cleric endorsed torture and ill treatment in Turkey in an article he wrote on February 2, 2017 in which he said that “no punishment can be imposed on soldiers who committed lesser crimes while fighting.” He was referring wide-scale and credible allegations of torture, abuse and ill treatment in detention centers and prisons in Turkey following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The column coincided with reports of international watchdogs including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch along with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture that confirmed the abuse and torture.
He has continued to be an outspoken advocate of the mass persecution in Turkey under the Erdoğan regime that has resulted in the dismissal of close to 150,000 government employees without any effective judicial or administrative probes. The Gülen movement, led by US-based liberal Islamic thinker Fethullah Gülen, has borne the brunt of the massive crackdown by the Erdoğan government. Karaman wrote a number of columns that claimed Gülen followers had betrayed the authorities and therefore the abusive treatment inflicted on them by the government was justice and not persecution.
Karaman, an anti-Western cleric, drew criticism when he advocated the view that the Erdoğan government must acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) including nuclear weapons to deter the West and have them manufactured in Turkey. He wrote in a column published on March 16, 2017, “We need to consider producing these weapons rather than purchasing them without losing any time and with no regard to words [of caution] or hindrance from the West.” Karaman claimed the West was interfering in the Islamic world in general and in Turkey in particular through its economic and military powers. He added that the West, including the US, accumulated wealth by exploiting the East, shedding blood and destroying Eastern values.
The cleric is among those who promote Erdoğan as the leader of all Muslims, or caliph, and he has pushed the idea of absolute obedience to the Erdoğan regime for Muslims as many followers of the Turkish president have been led to believe that Erdoğan is the expected savior and the only Muslim leader who can stand up to the West, crusaders and Israel. In an article in Yeni Şafak, a pro-Erdoğan Islamist newspaper, on December 25, 2015, Karaman argued that “the presidential system is like the Islamic caliphate system in which the people elect the president [caliph/ruler], then all pledge allegiance [biyat] to him.” He claimed that defying Erdoğan is against Islam and that the Muslim faith requires believers to cast their votes for him in elections.