Anti-Islam extremist group depicts Erdoğan as terrorist in public ads

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Ankara on Dec. 4, 2012. (Photo: AA, Evrim Aydın)

March 05, 2013, Tuesday/ 16:13:00

A pro-Israeli, anti-Islamic extremist group, known for running anti-Muslim ads in the New York subway, has depicted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a terrorist in ads targeting the concept of jihad in Islam.

The anti-jihad ads were designed by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) as a response to “MyJihad,” a public education campaign that seeks to share the proper meaning of jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims. MyJihad has been running various ads on buses and trains in cities across the US, in which it has tried to show the global values of Islam with such slogans as "My Jihad is not to judge people by their cover. What's yours?" and "My Jihad is to build friendships across the aisle. What's yours?"

The AFDI, widely known for its controversial attacks on Islam, apparently designed its ads in the same way but with the opposite aim. One of the ads shows the angry face of Erdoğan next to a passage from a poem by Ziya Gökalp, a Turkish sociologist and writer, that Erdoğan famously recited in 1998.

The poem reads, “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers," and next to this, the AFDI had added the sentence “That's My Jihad. What's yours?”

Apart from the attack on Erdoğan, the AFDI created similar ads, with the alleged words of Osama Bin Laden and a quote from Times Square bomber Faisal Shazad, and a purportedly anti-Semitic sentence from a Hamas-owned TV channel.

A lawyer from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently sent a letter to the AFDI claiming ownership of the MyJihad ads and stating that the AFDI is violating MyJihad.org's common law trademark and trade dress, or design, rights.

In 1999, Erdoğan served four months in jail after being convicted of “Islamist sedition” for reading Gökalp's poem at a political rally in Siirt when he was the mayor of İstanbul for the now-defunct Welfare Party (RP). His conviction came two years after an unarmed military intervention on Feb. 28, 1997, often dubbed a postmodern coup, which resulted in the fall of a coalition government led by RP leader Necmettin Erbakan.

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