MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : ERDOGAN’S PROUD BOYS ! – Why did Turkish state media promote ‘alt-right fight club,’ Proud Boys?

  • John Lubbock AHVAL NEWS  Last Updated On: Feb 17 2021 – U.S.-based male-only white nationalist organization the Proud Boys have been described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as an “alt-right fight club.’’ They believe that white, Western men are being marginalised by leftists, feminists, immigrants, and so on, and the group glorifies and participates in violence, such as the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The group was temporarily classified as an extremist organization with ties to white nationalism in 2018.

American Countering Violent Extremism researchers like Samantha Kutner, a fellow at the Khalifa Ihler Institute, have suggested revisiting this classification while being mindful of its implications in regard to critical voices against fascism.

Canada officially designated the Proud Boys as a terrorist group on Feb. 3, and the U.S. Justice Department is prosecuting Proud Boys members for their role in the Capitol riots. Nevertheless, Turkish state-run television channel TRT carried an exclusive interview with the Proud Boys’ leader Enrique Tarrio on the day after the riots. Tarrio was banned from entering Washington D.C. after being arrested on Jan. 5, and so did not take part in the riots himself.

TRT’s promotion of the Proud Boys was part of what Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman described as a wave of schadenfreude from Turkish government supporters, who tend to feel that the United States is an enemy of both Muslims and Turks, and thus that the storming of the capitol was a just humiliation which they deserved.

Of course, this might open the pro-government Turkish media up to accusations of hypocrisy. They regularly criticise Western governments for their support of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish military forces in control of much of northern Syria and an ideological offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who are a designated terrorist organisation in Turkey and much of the West.

In supporting the Proud Boys, isn’t Turkey’s pro-government media doing something similar? No, because the PKK and the Proud Boys are different, of course.

Daily Sabah columnist Yahya Bostan earlier this month argued that the Proud Boys are not nearly as bad as the PKK, because when he researched them, he could not “find anything on ideologically motivated murders, bombings, intimidation or any attempt to terrorize the general population.’’

“Nor was there any reference to hundreds of armed members storming towns, killing people or attacking U.S. troops. There was no record of the U.S. military suffering losses due to the Proud Boys either,” he said.

Incidents of far right terrorism including those involving the Proud Boys can be found in numerous places with a little effort, including on the Khalifa Ihler Institute’s global Hate Map, and on this specific map of just Proud Boys incidents.

This in itself seeks to play down the severity of the Proud Boys’ activity. One of their former members, Jason Kessler, organised the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in which one counter protester was murdered.

It is also incredibly hypocritical for Turkish state media to promote an Islamophobic group like the Proud Boys to an international audience, given how much that media complains about Islamophobia in the West.

In 2017, acting on conspiratorial anti-Muslim press content, the Proud Boys descended on the town of Islamberg, New York, which was set up by black Muslims who left New York in the 1980s. Their “Ride Along Caravan’’ was purely intended to intimidate around 20 Muslim families in a small village.

Zaman also pointed out that Turkey’s state broadcaster was happy to give a platform to a racist, misogynist and Islamophobic group, but never offers the same platform to democratically elected members of Turkey’s third largest party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).