Ankara Bombings: 'The Cost Of Peace'

Milliyet, Oct. 12, 2015

"The cost shouldn't be so high," Turkish daily Milliyet writes on Monday's front page, quoting and featuring a picture of Ä°zzettin Çevik, the blood-covered school teacher who became one of the symbols of the toll of Saturday's deadly bombings in Ankara.

Çevik, who was photographed by Reuters amid the carnage, lost his daughter and sister when two bombs were detonated outside the entrance of the capital's central railway station. He was first reported to have died from his wounds but survived, CNN Türk reports.

The attack killed at least 97 people, though some sources say the number of victims stands at 128, with hundreds more wounded.

"The price of peace should not be so heavy and painful," Milliyet quoted Çevik as saying.

No group has claimed responsibility for the deadliest terror attack in the country’s history, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says the prime suspect is ISIS, Hürriyet reports. The attack is believed to have been executed by two suicide bombers outside the city's main railway station, where activists were gathering before a planned protest against the violence between the Turkish government and Kurdish groups.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is hoping the upcoming Nov. 1 elections will restore his party’s parliamentary majority, has already ruled out postponing the vote.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!