Islamist radical organizations in parts of the country including Kerala and Kashmir are being supported and funded by Turkish outfits backed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government in Ankara, people familiar with the development have told Hindustan Times.
“There is an effort to radicalize Indian Muslims and recruit fundamentalists coordinated from Turkey,” a senior government official said, underlining that a recent assessment in New Delhi had noted the emergence of Turkey as “the hub of anti-India activities” next only to Pakistan.
Ankara’s attempt to expand its influence among South Asian Muslims comes against the backdrop of President Erdogan’s continuing pitch to challenge Saudi Arabia’s dominance in the Islamic world at a global level and offering a reshaped, conservative Turkey with Ottoman traditions as the model for other Islamic nations to follow.
The reconversion of the Byzantine cathedral Hagia Sophia to a mosque last week was a giant step in this direction, counted by commentators as a milestone in Turkey’s rebirth as a powerful, Muslim nation. The church had been converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, now Istanbul – and from mosque to museum in 1934.
The change fits in with Erdogan’s long-term plan to project himself as a global protector of Muslims, much like the Ottoman Caliphs. He had last year taken baby steps to build an alliance of non-Arab Islamic countries along with a handful of countries including Pakistan’s Imran Khan and Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad. Iran and Qatar were also roped in.
Pakistan watchers say Islamabad latched on to Turkey’s Erdogan after India deepened its ties with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Read more: Hindustan Times