Yuriy Mavashev: Erdogan has achieved the opposite effect at the funeral of Muhammad Ali


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a quite controversial figure. His political methods are often being disputed. Even seemingly ordinary visit, which aimed to pay tribute to the departed boxer, turned into a scandal. We asked Yuriy Mavashev, orientalist and turkologist, expert of Caucasian Geopolitical Club, to comment on this visit.

How do you assess the results and the significance of the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the US for a farewell to boxer Muhammad Ali?

First of all, I would like to note that the so-called “private visit” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on June 8 to the US, who wanted to bid farewell to the famous boxer Muhammad Ali, by definition, was not such.
Erdogan’s planned farewell speech, attempts to read the Quran over the departed, (note: the Turkish side insisted on the necessity of reciting the Quran by Turkish imam), and, moreover, laying a cloth from the holy for Muslims Kaaba on the coffin of the boxer Muhammad Ali, all those are not the elements of a “private visit”. Apparently, his trip was originally conceived as a purely political, where the target audience, of course, was to be the entire Islamic Ummah (note: ummah – religious community of Muslims). That is the reason why Turkish President Erdogan came to honor the memory of the star boxer. The audience of Muhammad Ali was to become President Erdogan’s audience.
It is noteworthy that in one of his speeches in Turkey, addressed to the memory of the departed Mohammed Ali, President Erdogan appealed to the “oppressed” (note: referring to the Muslims of poor, undeveloped countries), which, according to the figurative expression of Turkey’s leader, were the “fists” of Mohamed Ali, thrown against the “oppressors” (note: by default, is referring to colonial countries). The use of these particular expressions, of course, is no coincidence.
If we turn to the ideology of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), reflected both in the statutes of the party, and in the speeches of the founder Tayyip Erdogan, we find that the protection of “the oppressed” constantly emerges in them. Moreover, he (by the way, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was not inferior to him in this matter), has never concealed the fact that the protection of the “oppressed” cannot be limited to Turkey, stressing the international character of the AKP. The association with Comintern activities, bidding for world revolution, suggest themselves.
It wouldn’t heart to recall the famous statement of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the time addressed to the entire international community: “The world is bigger than five” (Turkish: ‘Dünya beşten büyüktür’). These words refer to the UN Security Council, in which only five members are the privileged part of the world community that have an inalienable and unconditional right of veto. And, although this statement belongs to an earlier period, it reflects, in the best possible way, the general trend of the behavior of Turkey on the world stage, bearing in mind the impact of the AKP ideology on republic’s foreign policy interactions with all international actors. Rhetoric is: “Islam is not only Turkey, but only Turkey is able to defend the common interests of the Ummah, and therefore its leadership, too, has an inalienable and unconditional right to make speeches that it sees fit and to behave as it sees appropriate at the funeral of a Muslim Muhammad Ali”.
The reality, however, clearly showed a somewhat different trend, that President Erdogan, the leader of “the oppressed”, did not expect: all his “funeral plans” were just not meant to be. Instead he achieved the opposite effect, was not allowed to make a speech, or to lay the cloth from the holy Kaaba, and the Turkish imam never managed to recite the Quran over the departed (not allowed by the local imam).
While many jumped to far-reaching conclusions about the deterioration of the Turkish-US relations, as a result of the incident, to me it seems more appropriate to pay attention on the other aspect: Erdogan’s unconcealable miss at the funeral of Mohamed Ali will most seriously affect his perception in the eyes of the Ummah. And it is unlikely that this perception will be in his favor, if the AKP will continue to act in the style of the Communist International, for which the achievement of world revolution was clearly more important than human lives (in this case, the funeral of a man Muhammad Ali).

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