I Witness

“O West! Do you want to start a Crescent-Crusader conflict again?”

I left my home for Atatürk Airport about two hours before the scheduled time on the call of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. I managed to come out of the Atatürk metro station after about half an hour. The metro station was fully packed with people. It was hard to believe that so many people could come through one metro. Suddenly, the slogan ‘Takbeer’ was raised in the crowd, and then ‘Allah Akbar’ echoed throughout the crowd. Then the series of slogans continued.

Now I entered the main gate of Atatürk Airport. The sound of the song ‘Palestine will be free’ hit my ears. For a moment, it surprised me how Turkish people are playing English and Arabic songs today. But as soon as I moved ahead, wading through the crowd of people, I realized that these songs were not being played; rather, Mehar Zain himself was present on the stage and was singing. The enthusiasm of the people was worth seeing. People were dancing to his songs, and at the same time, slogans for Palestine were also being raised in their respective languages. Artists like British musician Yusuf Islam (also known as Cat Stevens), famous Turkish singer Ömer Karaoğlu, and Resul Aydemir were present on the same stage. All these together had filled a different kind of enthusiasm among the youth present here.

This might be the first time in the whole world that the President of a country himself has invited the people to come and be #United4Palestine. It is obvious that when the President gives a call, it is natural for people to come and join it. 

Now on stage was British musician Yusuf Islam. Now it was his turn to speak. He was speaking in English, but at the same time, his speech was also being translated into Turkish. He clearly said, “This is not a battle between equals.” He also urged Israelis to recall the message of the Torah and forsake “the path of doom and destruction.” And he thanked Türkiye “for taking the right stand” on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has been reeling from relentless Israeli airstrikes for three weeks.

On this grand stage, President of Northern Cyprus, Ersin Tatar, Vice President of Türkiye, Cevdet Yılmaz, President of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Numan Kurtulmuş, Speaker of the Federal National Council, United Arab Emirate, Saqr Ghobash, Palestinian Ambassador to Türkiye Faed Mustafa, along with most of the leaders of Türkiye’s ruling party were present. Almost everyone spoke in Turkish, I was not particularly interested in what they were saying. However, it was announced from the stage, “Today is the biggest day of Istanbul. Today will always be remembered in history that we are not silent on Israel’s atrocities and massacres but stand with the people of Palestine.”

The truth is that, like the rest of the people present here, I too was waiting for President Erdoğan. Suddenly, his helicopter appeared in the sky, and people were filled with enthusiasm again. But during this time, the recitation of the Quran by the President of the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Türkiye, Ali Erbaş, was soothing to the heart.

Now Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was on the stage. It was clear from the way he spoke that our chacha (uncle) was going to announce something big today. However, I failed to hear any such announcement. But what is certain is that he openly declared himself to be standing with Hamas and clearly said that the real terrorists are Netanyahu, Israel, and America. And Western countries. He said that Hamas is fighting for the rights of Palestinians.

Just last night, Israel carried out a lot of bombing in Gaza by cutting off electricity and internet services. On this, Erdoğan fiercely targeted Israel and said in clear words, “One night your turn is also going to come…” Erdoğan did not stop at this; he said, “What was the state of Gaza, Palestine, in 1947, and what is it like today? Israel, how did you get here? How did you get there? You are an occupier; you are an organization, and Türkiye knows this… The West owes you, but Türkiye does not. That is why we speak without hesitation…”

Today, in Mr. Erdoğan’s speech, along with Netanyahu and Israel, western countries were also his targets. Challenging the Western countries, he said, “O West, I am calling on you. Do you want to start a Crescent-Crusader conflict again? If this is your intention, you should know Turkiye is not dead…” There is a very deep meaning in this statement. Ulemas having knowledge of Islamic history and Hadith can understand it very well.

Today’s historic meeting was over. The crowd of more than 1.5 million slowly started moving outside. I and a friend of mine were busy discussing how great their management was that they were handling such a huge crowd with ease, and the patience of the people was on a different level.

After walking about four to five kilometers, I returned home by taking a taxi. As soon as I posted today’s video on social media, one of my Indian friends expressed his displeasure with Erdoğan. His anger is justified. The same question is repeatedly flashing in my mind: what will happen by just speaking? People are dying there, and Israel is openly killing innocent Gazans. Powerful leaders will have to do something to stop it.

When I talked to a Turkish friend of mine regarding these questions, he agreed with me but also said that Erdoğan is doing more than he should, because everything is not so easy in politics here. You are probably forgetting that Türkiye was the first to recognize Israeli sovereignty in March 1949. Political figures belonging to that ideology are still present in this country. While listing the names of many universities, he said that all these universities were established here by the Jewish people. They have a considerable influence on the economy here. Now that the country’s economic condition is not good, the value of the Turkish Lira is continuously falling, and inflation is increasing in the country, Mr. Erdoğan has to think about this also.

Secondly, he said that we also need to understand that the USA is looking for an excuse to destroy Türkiye in the name of this war. Their warships are standing in the sea here. In such a situation, the government must take every decision very thoughtfully. Right now, my friends are telling me that Israeli diplomats have been asked to leave Türkiye. Türkiye has already recalled its diplomats present in Israel. Amidst all this, Türkiye is celebrating its centenary of the Republic. Under this pretext, Türkiye has showcased the strength of its military arsenal to the world. You can congratulate the centenary of the Turkish Republic, and yes, I congratulate the people of Türkiye for entering a new century.

“O West! Do you want to start a Crescent-Crusader conflict again?”
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