Reader’s links for May 30 – 2015

This post has all its contents in the comments. For the newest freshest videos and news stories of interest to the Counter-Jihad and the Geopolitics of Islam, please click comments and add to, or read what is posted there.

Some will be integrated into the day’s posts and others not. But this way we can keep a great news flow going without interfering with the conversations about the issues under the various essays and news items in the posts that will be presented throughout the day.

Thank you all for your informative and important contributions.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

29 Replies to “Reader’s links for May 30 – 2015”

  1. More than 4,200 migrants rescued in Mediterranean as crisis grows

    More than 4,200 migrants trying to reach Europe have been rescued from boats in the Mediterranean in last 24 hours, the Italian coastguard said on Saturday.

    In some of the most intense Mediterranean migrant traffic of the year, a total of 4,243 people have been saved from fishing boats and rubber dinghies in 22 operations involving ships from nations including Italy, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Britain.

    On Friday the Italian navy said 17 dead bodies had been found on one of the boats off Libya. Details of the nationalities of the victims and how they died have not yet been released.

    The bodies and more than 200 survivors will be brought to the port of Augusta in eastern Sicily aboard the Italian navy corvette Fenice later on Saturday, the coastguard said.

    Migrants escaping war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East this year have been pouring into Italy, which has been bearing the brunt of Mediterranean rescue operations. Most depart from the coast of Libya, which has descended into anarchy since Western powers backed a 2011 revolt that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

    Calm seas are increasingly favouring departures as warm spring weather sets in.

    Last month around 800 migrants drowned off Libya in the Mediterranean’s most deadly shipwreck in living memory when their 20-metre long fishing boat capsized and sank.

    That spurred the European Union to agree on a naval mission to target gangs smuggling migrants from Libya, but a broader plan to deal with the influx is in doubt due to a dispute over national quotas for housing asylum seekers.

    The EU plan to disperse 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece to other countries met with resistance this week, with Britain saying it would not participate and some eastern countries calling for a voluntary scheme.

    Around 35,500 migrants arrived in Italy from the beginning of the year up to the first week of May, the UN refugee agency estimated, a number which has swelled considerably since. About 1,800 are either dead or missing.

    Most of those rescued on Friday and Saturday are expected to reach ports around southern Italy during the weekend. The British naval vessel HMS Bulwark offloaded more than 740 early on Saturday at the southeastern Italian port of Taranto.

    More than 200 migrants arrived at the Calabrian port of Crotone in south-west Italy on board the Belgian navy ship Godetia.

    http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/05/30/europe-migrants-idINKBN0OF0EB20150530

      • Mediterranean migrant crisis: ‘If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,’ says Tripoli PM

        Now the European Union is proposing action once more. But this is not to help Libya, but protect the borders of Europe from African and Arab migrants, using Libya as a battleground against heavily armed trafficking gangs if necessary.

        […]Mr Ghweil expressed his concern as the European Union revealed that its ships and aircraft were operating closer to Libya than ever before. Fabrice Leggeri, the director of the organisation’s border agency, Frontex, stated that they “are approximately 80 nautical miles from the Libyan shore”. They may have to go in even closer, he continued, as “most rescue emergencies happen 40 nautical miles from Libya”.

        “Europe and America should recognise our National Salvation Government: we control 85 per cent of the country where these issues are taking place. What is the point of them dealing with the Benghazi government? The West needs to talk to us or these problems, about migration, about Daesh [Isis], to make sure the situation does not become worse for them.”

        […]Mr Ghweil maintained that his government would welcome interaction with the West. “We need its involvement, but it certainly would not help if this involvement meant bombing boats because Europe thinks that will stop smuggling. It will not and if Europe comes to our water and land without permission we will, as I said, defend ourselves,” he said.

        “What we need is Europe to help these refugees in their own countries with aid so that they have a future and don’t have to make a dangerous journey. We in Libya need help in coping with these people. If these things don’t happen, the situation will only get worse for Europe.”

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/mediterranean-migrant-crisis-if-europe-thinks-bombing-boats-will-stop-smuggling-it-will-not-we-will-defend-ourselves-says-tripoli-pm-10283031.html

  2. Militants attack Maiduguri in Nigeria (BBC, May 30, 2015)
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32944054

    “A suicide bomber has killed 13 people at a mosque in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, eyewitnesses say.

    Dozens were wounded in the attack, which followed an overnight assault on the north-eastern city by Boko Haram.

    At least 13 people were killed by the Islamist militants before troops were able to push them back their advance.

    The attacks came just hours after Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as Nigeria’s new president. He has vowed decisive action against Boko Haram.

    In recent years the militants have killed thousands of people – mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – in its attempt to set up an Islamic state.

    So far no group has said it carried out Saturday’s suicide bombing….”

    • NIGERIA – 26 worshippers dead, 28 injured in Maiduguri mosque attack

      A suicide bomber, yesterday, sneaked into a mosque along Ali Kotoko Road, near Monday Market in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, leaving 26 dead and 28 critically injured, security sources assisting in the evacuation of victims said.

      The incident took place at about 3:45pm when Muslim faithful gathered to perform their afternoon prayer.

      Unconfirmed sources, however, revealed that apart from the mosque explosion, another blast rocked some area of the Monday Market with fewer casualty figure.

      The incidents came barely 12 hours after Boko Haram gunmen were repelled by the military in Maiduguri, which also claimed many lives.

      The mosque explosion, according to Modu Fugu of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), occurred when the prayer session was about to commence with over five dozens of people in attendance.

      “We were terrified by the loud explosion that rocked the mosque near bicycle sellers market and other shops when the prayer session was cut and worshippers fled to safety. But many were killed and scores injured”, Fugu stated.

      Borno State Police Command confirmed the mosque blast, but said it was yet to get the casualty figure. The Red Cross and volunteers were reportedly involved in the rescue operation.

      In another incident, yesterday, 15 residents were reportedly dead when suspected members of Boko Haram, in a convoy of vehicles and motorcycles laden with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), rocket grenades and anti-aircraft guns attacked Malari village in Borno State. 19 others in Bulunkutu Saleke, Gomari and Ajilari areas of the state were said to have been wounded.

      The killings, according to Ibrahim Yakubu of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), were caused by the insurgents’ sporadic gunshots, explosions and shelling on the four villages that commenced from 12.35 – 2.45 a.m.

      Confirming the incident in Maiduguri, a source at Borno Police Command said many residents of Gomari, Bulunkutu Saleke and Ajilari were killed during the attacks.

      http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/05/26-worshippers-dead-28-injured-in-maiduguri-mosque-attack/

  3. Pakistan-Zimbabwe cricket series continues despite bombing (BBC, May 30, 2015)
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32943376

    “Pakistan will host a third and final one-day cricket match against Zimbabwe on Sunday despite a bomb attack near the venue on Friday, officials say.

    A policeman was killed and six wounded when the bomber blew himself up during the second game in Lahore.

    Initially, police said the blast had been accidental. The teams played on.

    Until the current tour, there had been no international cricket in Pakistan since a bus carrying the Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore in 2009.

    Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians, including the driver of a minibus containing the game’s umpires, were killed that day, while several Sri Lanka players sustained minor injuries.

    Since then, Pakistan have played their “home” matches at neutral venues such as the United Arab Emirates.

    Commenting on Friday’s explosion, a spokesman for the Pakistan Cricket Board said: “The incident has not affected the tour. Zimbabwe’s tour will continue.”

    The players, he added, were satisfied with security arrangements against of Sunday’s final one-day international.

    Thousands of security personnel have been deployed…”

  4. Activists Say Syrian Army Strikes Kill 70 People in Aleppo (abcnews, May 30, 2015)
    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/activists-syrian-army-strikes-kill-45-people-aleppo-31410440

    “Syrian army airstrikes killed at least 70 people, most of them civilians, and wounded scores in attacks Saturday in the northern province of Aleppo that struck civilian areas, including a packed market in a town held by the Islamic State group, activists said.

    The deaths occurred in two separate incidents when helicopters dropped explosives-filled barrels. One barrel hit the rebel-held Shaar neighborhood of the city of Aleppo, killing at least 12 people, most of them from the same family. They included three children and four women, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    The other attack was far deadlier, hitting a busy market known as Souk al-Hal in the Islamic State-held town of al-Bab in Aleppo’s countryside. The Observatory said at least 59 people were killed and dozens wounded, calling it the one of the worst massacres perpetrated by President Bashar Assad’s army this year. It said the number of dead likely would rise because many of the wounded were in critical condition.

    The Local Coordination Committees reported more than 50 people killed and around 70 wounded in the al-Bab attack. Both groups document violence through a network of activists on the ground in Syria.

    Al-Bab is controlled by the Islamic State group, which also confirmed the attack in a statement posted on Twitter. It said 50 people were killed in a “devastating massacre” committed by Syrian army helicopters….”

  5. US, Iran Hold ‘Intense’ Nuclear Talks Month Before Deadline (abcnews, May 30, 2015)
    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/us-iran-accelerate-nuclear-talks-month-deadline-31409475

    “A month away from a nuclear deal deadline, U.S. and Iranian diplomats tried to narrow differences over how quickly to ease economic penalties against Tehran and how significantly the Iranians must open up military facilities to international inspections. American officials described the session as “at times intense.”

    The talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lasted six hours, in what officials described as the most substantive negotiating round since world powers and Iran clinched a framework pact in April.

    Last month’s agreement left big questions unanswered, which weeks of subsequent technical discussions have done little to resolve. It was unclear how much progress Kerry and Zarif made before the Iranian delegation began leaving for Tehran, or if they fully rediscovered their momentum.

    Asked about completing the full accord by June 30, Zarif said, “We will try.”

    His deputy, Abbas Aragchi, said lower-level officials would meet again in Vienna next week….”

  6. TORONTO STAR – Youth trying to reach Syria got instructions from Montreal mosque, family members say

    Ten young Quebec Muslims who were detained for allegedly trying to join jihadist groups in Syria received travel instructions, financing advice and moral support from individuals they met at a Montreal mosque, family members have alleged.

    MONTREAL—Ten young Quebec Muslims who were detained for allegedly trying to join jihadist groups in Syria received precise travel instructions, financing advice and moral support from individuals they met at a Montreal mosque, family members have alleged to national security investigators.

    A source with knowledge of the allegations told La Presse that family members said they received advice so that their travel plans did not appear suspicious. Those instructions allegedly included advice to book tickets on an Italy-bound flight with a stopover in Istanbul. During the layover they were to make their way to the Turkish-Syrian border.

    The source said the youths were also advised to get credit cards so that they could book their plane tickets and take out cash advances. The students also allegedly discussed details of their travel plan on a password-protected Internet forum.

    No charges have been laid in the case and all 10 youths were released from police custody.

    But the latest allegations raise more questions about the Assahaba mosque, which is run by Adil Charkaoui, a Canadian citizen whom security services long suspected of being an Al Qaeda sleeper agent.

    Of 21 individuals who have either gone missing, been charged with terrorist offences, or had their passports confiscated in the last six months, at least nine have been linked in some way to Charkaoui or his mosque.

    Charkaoui did not respond to questions Friday about the latest allegations, which were not directed at him. But in comments made to the Star earlier this week, he denied any wrongdoing.

    “There is a lot of ignorance and malice. When we have both of them together it becomes toxic,” he said. “It’s as if everything that happens related to radicalization in this country is because of a single person.”

    Charkaoui was detained and then subjected to restrictive conditions under a federal security certificate that was sought in 2003. He was never charged, the case against him was dropped, and he is suing the federal government over his ordeal.

    Of the 10 who were arrested May 15, eight were picked up at the Montreal airport and two were arrested at their homes. Six of them regularly attended the Assahaba mosque.

    There were at least two couples. Not all of the 10 individuals knew each other, but some of them knew members of another group of seven teens who went missing and are believed to have fled to the Mideast in mid-January.

    Those links are part of an intricate and tough-to-follow portrait of a sprawling Quebecois network made up of young people allegedly drawn to jihad — the opportunity to fight and die for their religious beliefs.

    “When you say that everyone knows each other, you’re right, because the Muslim community is one in which the youth meet often at the mosque or at conferences,” said Mahad Jama, who knows several of Montreal’s alleged jihadist figures.

    One of Jama’s acquaintances is Sami Elabi, a young man who grew up in the same Montreal suburb of Pierrefonds and has been fighting in Syria since 2013. Jama saw how Elabi’s family was ripped apart by his departure.

    Another of Jama’s boyhood friends is Merouane Ghalmi, a former kickboxer whom police believed was on the verge of committing an undisclosed terrorist act when they intervened in February 2015. Ghalmi has now signed a peace bond that forces him to wear an electronic ankle bracelet and bars him from contacting anyone who is in Syria, and individuals connected to a terrorist group.

    “For sure it’s shocking because it’s not everyone that leaves that impression,” Jama said of Ghalmi. “When I spoke to him about that he didn’t want to talk much about it.”

    One of Ghalmi’s first acts upon returning from the courthouse after signing the peace bond on March 27 was to cut his social media ties to Mohamed Rifaat, a young man with a magnificent voice who was often called upon to sing the Muslim call to prayer.

    Rifaat was among those who disappeared in mid-January.

    “Did it surprise me? Yes it did. It’s like someone dies that you’ve just met,” said Ishaq Mustaqim, a Muslim convert who credited Islam for turning him away from a life of crime and preached that message in a 2013 social media initiative dubbed Mustaqim TV, to which Rifaat contributed.

    “You don’t expect that the person is going to die. I’ve met others who say that it’s not true that he left and others who say that he left but it wasn’t for that. It’s tough to tell what the truth is, but it’s still surprising because it’s someone I knew.”

    Radicalization and terrorism experts say there may be others on the periphery of the Quebec cases. Past experience shows that the social networks of terror suspects are often much larger than the list of people who may one day appear in a court room or the pages of a newspaper.

    In the case of the Toronto 18, eighteen were arrested and 11 were convicted, but the fact of the matter is there was a wider circle of about 40 people involved who didn’t reach the level of being prosecuted,” said Lorne Dawson, an expert on radicalization at the University of Waterloo who has conducted in-depth studies of Canadians who have become Islamic extremists.

    Of particular interest is what police and researchers call the “facilitators” who may have no intention of carrying out a criminal act, but are considered essential to a flourishing criminal network, be it a case of terrorism or organized crime.

    “They are key players in conveying information from one person to another and advising people,” said Dawson. “They often don’t fit with the legal definition of someone police can arrest, but when they do the network analysis, police realize that if these people didn’t exist the whole network wouldn’t happen.”

    Bill C-51, the federal anti-terror bill with new laws against those who “promote terrorism,” is believed to go after such figures who “are leading young people to leave the country but themselves aren’t,” Dawson said.

    Of the 21 known cases in the Montreal area since January, only two 18-year-olds who were arrested in April, El Mahdi Jamali and his girlfriend, Sabrine Djermane, are facing criminal terrorism charges.

    But the others who have had their passports seized are still cause for concern.

    “These aren’t wannabes who are just talking. They’ve gone from talking to walking, but they’ve been stopped from walking by the government,” said a former Canadian national security analyst, speaking on condition he not be identified.

    A similar situation emerged in the summer of 2014 when Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 24-year-old Muslim convert from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., was prevented from boarding a flight to Turkey. Officials took away his passport and the RCMP placed him on a list of about 90 other Canadians who posed a high risk of trying to leave the country for terrorist purposes.

    Officers met Couture-Rouleau regularly and a local imam offered counselling. By early October, he told investigators he was committed to changing his ways and they believed him. Ten days later he fatally ran down Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in a parking lot with his car.

    “I don’t know what he said because he’s dead, but I’m assuming he said that if I can’t do what I want to do I’ll just go ahead and do it here, and that’s the fear,” the former national security analyst said.

    Mystery Facebook account

    MONTREAL—A mystery Facebook account with ties to Quebec has re-emerged with a Syria placeline and tips to get to the Islamic State.

    The identity of the individual behind the social media account “Lechemin ver l’Islam” (“The Path to Islam”) isn’t known, but the individual has had several social media interactions with at least six Quebecers who have either fled Canada or been stopped by police for allegedly plotting terrorist acts in recent months.

    That Facebook account suddenly came to life this week after having been inactive since early January. Starting on Wedneday, the author’s location was listed as Raqqah, Syria, the headquarters of ISIS, instead of Montreal.

    On Friday morning, the extremist rhetoric was topped by an offer of personal help facilitating one individual’s passage into the ranks of the terror group.

    “You don’t need to know anyone, just a telephone number at the border so they’ll come get you when you’re in Turkey,” the individual wrote in response to a question. “Contact me and I’ll give you the number or that of another brother.”

    The existence of the account is significant because of the number of young Quebec Muslims who might see the account. The account makes several references to Quebec, including the Muslim Students’ Association at Université Laval in Quebec City.

    The first message from the Facebook account on Wednesday was of his apparent experience as a new ISIS recruit. The individual claimed to have been ushered into a “religious seminary” for new arrivals to the Islamic State in Iraq.

    After basic training was completed, his platoon of 25 English- and French-speaking fighters was offered its first mission — to defend the former ISIS stronghold of Tikrit, the individual wrote.

    The tale could possible be a tardy account of the Battle of Tikrit, when Iraqi forces won back the town from ISIS in early March. It could also be a complete fabrication meant to win the propaganda war, not to fill the history books. The author of the tale didn’t respond to repeated questions, making the story impossible to verify.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/05/30/youth-trying-to-reach-syria-got-instructions-from-montreal-mosque-family-members-say.html

  7. UK – LEEDS – Arrests after Leeds Bangladeshi centre’s doors and windows smashed

    Four people have been injured and a number of arrests made after doors and windows were smashed at a community centre.

    The disturbance at the Bangladeshi centre in Roundhay Road, Harehills in Leeds happened at about 12:30 BST.

    Several police cars were called to scene. Detectives said inquiries were ongoing to establish the circumstances.

    Det Supt Pat Twiggs, from Leeds District, said there would be increased patrols in the community.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-32943666

    • BREITBART – Brawl at Labour-Linked Muslim Community Centre

      A large-scale brawl broke out today at a Labour Party-linked, Muslim community centre in Leeds in the northern of England.

      The video (below), caught on a mobile phone before being uploaded to Facebook, depicted a violent scuffle between two warring sides of the Bangladeshi Community. Facebook users familiar with the situation claimed the row broke out due to ongoing tensions over who runs the centre, which has served as a hub of political activity for the local Labour Party as well as national Labour figures.

      http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/05/30/video-brawl-at-labour-linked-muslim-community-centre/

  8. Egypt releases U.S. citizen who’d been sentenced to life for activism (CNN, May 30, 2015)
    http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/30/middleeast/egypt-us-citizen-jailed-released/index.html

    “A U.S. citizen sentenced to life in an Egyptian prison for his role in demonstrations in support of ousted former President Mohamed Morsy has been released to go back to the United States, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said Saturday.

    Mohamed Soltan, who had been a dual U.S. and Egyptian citizen, had been jailed since 2013 and in April was sentenced to life in prison for his support of the Muslim Brotherhood. His family claimed Soltan didn’t belong to the group, which Morsy once led and which is now banned in Egypt, according to the state-run Ahram Online website…..

    A U.S. citizen sentenced to life in an Egyptian prison for his role in demonstrations in support of ousted former President Mohamed Morsy has been released to go back to the United States, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said Saturday.

    Mohamed Soltan, who had been a dual U.S. and Egyptian citizen, had been jailed since 2013 and in April was sentenced to life in prison for his support of the Muslim Brotherhood. His family claimed Soltan didn’t belong to the group, which Morsy once led and which is now banned in Egypt, according to the state-run Ahram Online website.”

    • “…Soltan renounced his Egyptian citizenship as part of the terms of his release, Ahram Online reported, citing one of his lawyers.

      He’d resisted doing so, but his “family and lawyers pressured him to give up his nationality as there was no other option,” said attorney Halem Henish.

      Regardless of what it took, Soltan’s release was cause for celebration back in America.

      “Mohamed Soltan is free!” tweeted Suhaib Webb, the influential imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. “Allah is the greatest!””

  9. Muslim chaplain claims discrimination on United flight (CNN, May 30, 2015)
    http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/30/us/united-flight-muslim-chaplain/index.html

    “A simple request for an unopened can of Diet Coke on a United Airlines flight left Tahera Ahmad in tears.

    A Muslim chaplain and director of interfaith engagement at Northwestern University, Ahmad, 31, was traveling Friday from Chicago to Washington for a conference promoting dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth. She was wearing a headscarf, or hijab.

    For hygienic reasons, she asked for an unopened can of soda, she said. The flight attendant told her that she could not give her one but then handed an unopened can of beer to a man seated nearby. Ahmad questioned the flight attendant…..

    Suhaib Webb, a prominent Muslim American imam, tweeted, “I’m asking all of you to let @united know that you are disgusted with this bigotry.” He also tweeted a photo of a can of Diet Coke over #unitedfortahera….”

  10. TURKEY An AK Party video released to commemorate the conquest culminated with the Muslim call to prayer being recited from a minaret of the Hagia Sophia, Christendom’s greatest cathedral for 900 years until the Ottomans turned it into a mosque.

    =============================================================
    Islam center stage as Turkish election campaign enters final week

    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Evoking the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople and vowing the Muslim call to prayer would forever ring out, President Tayyip Erdogan put religion center stage on Saturday as campaigning for Turkey’s parliamentary election entered its final week.

    Persuading religious conservatives, including pious Kurds and nationalists, to back the Islamist-rooted AK Party will be key in an election Erdogan hopes will bring him stronger presidential powers that opponents see as a threat to democracy.

    Turkey’s most dominant politician for more than a decade and founder of the AK Party, Erdogan draws much of his support from the pious masses. His rhetoric often plays on a tension reaching back to the 1920s when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk forged a secular republic from the ruins of an Ottoman theocracy.

    “We will not give way to those who speak out against our call to prayer,” he said in a speech in Istanbul to mark the anniversary of the 1453 Islamic conquest that turned the capital of the Byzantine Empire into the seat of Ottoman power.

    “We will not give space to those who want to extinguish the fire of conquest burning in the heart of Istanbul for 562 years,” he told a sea of supporters waving the red Turkish flag, most of the women covered in the Islamic headscarf and some of the men wearing headbands bearing Erdogan’s name.

    An AK Party video released to commemorate the conquest culminated with the Muslim call to prayer being recited from a minaret of the Hagia Sophia, Christendom’s greatest cathedral for 900 years until the Ottomans turned it into a mosque.

    Ataturk, who banished Islam from state affairs and promoted Western dress and women’s rights, decreed it a museum in 1934. But a burgeoning sense of Islamic identity that Erdogan has encouraged has revived interest in praying there.

    “I don’t mind if Erdogan uses Islam as a political propaganda tool. I actually appreciate that he brings it up. These are our values, we shouldn’t forget them,” said Ahmet Sahin, a 26-year old accountant among the crowd.

    “LIES AND SLANDER”

    Erdogan appeals to conservative Muslim Turks who feel they were treated as second-class citizens during decades of rule by secular parties. He has spoken with scorn of the old secular elite. “They drink their whisky on the Bosphorus … and hold the rest of the people in contempt,” he once said.

    Constitutionally banned from party politics as head of state, Erdogan has nonetheless delivered podium speeches around the country in recent weeks ahead of the June 7 election, berating the opposition and arguing for a presidential system.

    He wants the AKP to win a strong enough majority to change the constitution and hand him greater powers unopposed, something opinion polls suggest it will struggle to do.

    Erdogan casts the main secularist opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), founded by Ataturk, as hostile to religion, but the biggest electoral threat is likely to come from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

    If it crosses the 10 percent threshold needed to enter parliament it would steal seats from AKP, potentially leaving it unable to form a majority government.

    Seeking to win over pious Kurds, Erdogan has devoted much time to questioning the HDP’s Muslim credentials, describing them as followers of the Zoroastrian religion and accusing them of an insulting reference to the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam which worshippers face when praying.

    “These people have nothing to do with Islam,” Erdogan, who held aloft a Kurdish translation of the Koran earlier this month, told a rally in Istanbul this week. “I believe my pious Kurdish brothers will give them the necessary answer on June 7.”

    Islamist media accused HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas of eating pork, something he has denied.

    “For weeks the president and prime minister are going around saying ‘I am a Muslim’ and running a campaign of lies and slander,” he told CNN Turk on Wednesday.

    “This is black propaganda designed to smear me in the eyes of a part of society.”

    Turkey’s state-run religious affairs directorate has been caught up in the campaigning. The HDP has said it wants to abolish the body and remove state involvement in religion.

    Defending the directorate, Erdogan insisted on providing its head with a luxury armored car and a private airplane, saying he deserved the same treatment as other religious leaders, including the pope. Turkish media quoted a Vatican spokesman in response as denying the pope had a private jet.

    “They have gone so overboard with exploiting religion in politics … Instead of showing the pope as an example, why don’t you take our Prophet’s life as an example,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the opposition CHP.

    http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKBN0OF0VB20150530

    ==========================================================
    video – Muslim call to prayer from the Hagia Sofia ( in HD )

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