I was invited as a speaker to Al-Quds Day meeting on January 31, 1997, which was part of the Ramadan activities held by Sincan municipality, a district of Ankara. Before the program, I sent the organizers a video cassette exposing the crimes of Zionism and highlighting the Palestinian cause. I also sent posters of Dr Fathi Shiqaqi, the martyred leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, Sayyid Abbas Musavi, the martyred leader of the Lebanese Hizbullah, and Engineer Yahya Ayash, the martyred member of the Hamas movement.
On the day of the meeting, I came to the hall and saw that posters of the martyr were displayed. I spoke on the struggle against Zionism, the Palestinian intifada and resistance of the Hizbullah in Lebanon. The video cassette I prepared was also shown. Other speakers included Bekir Yildiz, the mayor of Sincan, and Iran’s ambassador to Turkey, Muhammed Reza Bagheri.
This program was one of the usual Al-Quds day activities. The same themes and context had been seen in previous programs. But this event became a pretext for action by Turkey’s internal and external forces who wanted the Islamist Refah party to be ousted from the government.
The secular Turkish press, steadfast opponents of the Refah government, reported the program sensationally on February 3. Headlines included: ‘The Great Scandal’, ‘Shari’ah call in Sincan’, ‘Iran’s Foot falls in Sincan’, ‘Uprising Attempt Against Secular Regime’, and ‘Is this Turkey or Iran?’
Four days after the meeting, army tanks paraded through Sincan streets in a show of strength, in what was a clear threat to the Muslim groups. Cevik Bir, the joint chief of general staff, declared that ‘it was a balance adjustment to democracy.’ Also, Turkish army generals showed great reaction to Al-Quds Day program, focusing on the posters of Hamas, Hizbullah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders, and the speech of the Iranian ambassador. Daniel Pipes, a Zionist American writer, said that the reaction against the meeting was a function of the military co-operation treaty between the Turkish army and Israel.
This representation of Al-Quds Day meeting by anti-Refah media, and their manipulation of public opinion, also prompted the courts to act. The mayor of Sincan, six municipal workers and I were arrested by police and questioned. As a result, we were then arrested by Ankara state security court on February 13, 1997.
The charges against us were prepared by Judge Nuh Cetinkaya, prosecutor for the Ankara state security court. His charges against me were as follows:
The suspect has made propaganda on behalf of the terrorist organisation Hizbullah in his speech at the meeting; the suspect has revealed his contacts with terrorist organisations by possession of posters of Hamas, Hizbullah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders, and of the video cassette shown at the meeting; the suspect has previously served a one-year prison sentence for making propaganda for Hizbullah through the press; a police search of the suspect’s home found many video cassettes about Iran and Hizbullah; the suspect had revealed by his previous speeches at different times and places that he was a devotee of Imam Khomeini and Hizbullah; the suspect in his statements at police surveillance had expressed that he was a follower of Shari’ah and an opponent of the secular regime, and favoured an Islamic State based on the Qur’an; and, the suspect is a member of an illegal terror organisation, Hizbullah. That is why he must be punished according to article 168/2 of Turkish Penal Code.
In my defence, presented orally and in writing, I stated the following. ‘We are Muslims and as Muslims we take the maintenance of Al-Quds as the greatest task. We sincerely support Muslims who fight against Israel, the occupier of Palestinian Muslim territories and of Al-Quds. Like this we accept Abbas Musavi , Fathi Shiqaqi and Yahya Ayash as symbols and as leaders.
‘Israel is an illegitimate State. The real terrorist is the Zionist Israel, occupier of Palestine. Israel is a murderous regime. It is both an Islamic and a humanitarian duty to oppose the Israeli regime and support Muslim fighters who are struggling against it. The Quds Day meeting held in Sincan should be seen in this context. My participation to this program, by providing martyr posters and preparing a video cassette for display, is to realise this goal. Turkish State has no right to brand and humiliate as “terrorist” Islamic organisations and their leaders who are striving for their freedom. I severely condemn everybody and every establishment who describe the movements fighting against Israel as “terrorist”.
‘I have no organisational contact with Hamas, Hizbullah or Islamic Jihad, and I am not a member of any of these organisations. The only reason for my interest and sympathy is their struggle for the liberation of Al-Quds. I also support all other resistance movements, wherever they are in the world, against oppression, occupation and aggression. It is an obligation for me to help oppressed Muslims under attack.
‘Supporting everybody or every society who are under attack or oppression is an Islamic duty. Behind my great love and respect for Sayyid Abbas Musavi of Hizbullah lies his struggle against Israel. His struggle and leadership should be emulated by all Muslims. For that reason, we accept the martyrs as leaders and models who should be emulated.
‘I also support the Islamic Republic of Iran and follow the way of Imam Khomeini, which he advised to the Muslims throughout the world, because the Islamic Republic of Iran is the only State established by the revolution of the people since the time of the prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him. The Islamic Republic has undertaken a great task in implementing the Qur’an’s edicts, defending the world Muslims, particularly in the struggle for recovering Al-Quds. But this does not mean that I imitate Iran. We take into account the conditions of Turkey in realising our Islamic goals.
‘Consequently, I will never renounce from the struggle for the liberation of Al-Quds and always fight against Zionism.’
After my defence, I was sentenced to 17 years and six months’ imprisonment. This sentence was later confirmed by Turkey’s supreme court. According to the court verdict, the intensity and continuity of my activities indicated that I was a member of Hizbullah, described as an ‘illegal terrorist organisation.’ The verdict also claimed that Hizbullah had been established for the realisation of the global goals of the Islamic Republic of Iran and that these goals include overthrowing of the secular Turkish Republic and its replacement by an Iran-style Islamic State.
Clearly, the Turkish regime reflects the Israeli view that Hizbullah is a purely terrorist organisation. In fact, the Turkish regime now openly supports the Zionist regime in every way. In newspaper articles and in the documents I presented in my defence in court, I have clearly shown how Israeli interests have become Turkey’s prime concern. I define this situation as the guardianship of Israel over Turkey.
The liberation of Al-Quds is the greatest cause facing Muslims, irrespective of our job, group, nationality and sect. We will and must continue the struggle until the overthrow of Israel. The basis of our cause, I also said this while in police custody, is to unite under the banner of Islam with all Muslims throughout the world and have a global Islamic State. I have been dealing with these activities at different times and places since 1980, and I will continue at the same course. Ultimately, the Party of God Almighty [Hizbullah] will certainly be victorious.
Muslimedia: January 1-15, 1999