How Huffington Post fed the troll

Published 13.11.2014 23:01
Updated 13.11.2014 23:03

It is a really serious business drawing a connection between the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which has garnered the hatred of the whole world, and Turkey, which was one of the first countries to recognize ISIS as a terrorist organization and provided the greatest support to the international anti-ISIS coalition in terms of humanitarian aid and allowed Iraqi peshmerga fighters and heavy weapons to cross into Kobani, Syria from Turkey. For a year now, however, the U.S.'s so-called prestigious media outlets, in an effort to associate ISIS with Turkey, have been making news reports that are full of anonymous claims that cannot be verified with primary or secondary sources.

The most recent article that refreshes this disappointment is a piece titled "Research Paper: ISIS-International List" published in the Huffington Post on Nov. 9. The article "claims" that it covers accusations that try to associate ISIS with Turkey. I deliberately write the word claim in quotation marks as the content of the article is no more than a list of absurdities.

The author of the article is David Philips, a self-styled "unbiased" professor at Columbia University. One of the primary sources he cites is a famous Twitter troll who claims to be a senior figure from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and all the information he leaked from inside Turkey is falsified. Yes, it is hard to believe, but an academic from Columbia University used the tweets of a troll as an "objective source" in his research paper that Huffington Post published unquestioningly.

Another troll has recently shared a photo of a mosque blown up with rockets with the caption "ISIS is launching rockets into space to spread Islam." Philips may want to use this shocking "information" to enrich the content of his research paper.

Under one of the subtitles of the same article, "Turkey and ISIS Share a Worldview," Philips also asserts that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son Bilal met ISIS fighters. Had Philips done a little more thorough research instead of relying on fabricated information, he could have found that the photo, which was offered as evidence of slander, was taken with the owners of a restaurant in Istanbul. The only thing that made the owners of that restaurant "ISIS fighters" was their long black beards.

Western researchers who want to go beyond the photos shared by trolls to see whether Turkey shares the same worldview as ISIS should pay attention to the following examples: Erdoğan is the only Muslim leader who advised a secular state structure to Egypt when he visited the country during his time as prime minister in 2011. Last Ramadan, Turkish LGBTQ groups held a huge pride parade with no obstacle in the heart of Turkey's most populous city of Istanbul. Again during the AK Party rule, abortion has been taken into the scope of social insurance and alcohol consumption has increased considerably.

Yet another assertion was that there is a photo that pictures Turkish soldiers side by side with ISIS militants in an intimate manner. This photo circulated so much on social media platforms that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu verified with factual statements that the people seen in the photo were relatives and parents who visited their son during his military service a few years ago. So, the soldier's father and male relatives were deemed to be "criminals" simply because of their beards. Philips could have easily seen this if he had researched the responses from AK Party officials in addition to the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) accusations that he cited throughout his quite "unbiased" article.

Here is the last example from the article to rebut: Philips claimed that Suat Kılıç, a member of Parliament from the AK Party, had his photo taken with ISIS supporters in Germany. But, actually, it was a photo taken in May 2013 when Kılıç visited Kilim Restaurant located on Keuper Street in Cologne and run by a Turkish family from Şanlıurfa. If Philips happens to pass this famous street full of Turkish kebab houses, I advise him to have a delicious kebab at that restaurant and learn that not every bearded man is an ISIS militant.

Here is another article to help Philips and other researchers of similar mentality.

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