Daniel Pipes: Erdoğan and the "Al-Gaddafi Prize"

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He has lived for three years in Egypt.]

The slogan of the"Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights" is"As the sun shines for everyone, freedom is a right for everyone." Lovely, no, especially at a moment when Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi's war planes are raining down death and destruction on his own subject people and when foreign mercenaries are brutalizing the population?

The prize description includes such gems as these:

The prize is awarded every year to one of the international personalities, bodies or organizations that have distinctively contributed to rendering an outstanding human service and has achieved great actions in defending Human rights, protecting the causes of freedom and supporting peace everywhere in the world. ...

The Prize categorically believes that freedom is an indivisible natural right for Man ; it is not a gift or grace from anybody, and that safeguarding it is a general human responsibility.

Past recipients of the prize have included Nelson Mandela (1989),"The Red Indians" (1991), Louis Farrakhan (1996), Fidel Castro (1998), and Hugo Chavez (2004).

But it's the current recipient who is the most interesting: none other than the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He accepted the prize in Tripoli, Libya, on Dec. 1, 2010, for his"distinguished service to humanity." In his acceptance speech, Erdoğan said that the award will further encourage him to fight for human rights and that"Islamophobia" is a crime against humanity.

The report on this event in the pro-Erdoğan Zaman newspaper goes on:

[Erdoğan] reiterated that Turkey will not remain silent on the killing of nine innocent people by Israel in the Mediterranean, which he described as a sea of"friendship and brotherhood." The Turkish prime minister added that he will continue to protect the rights of people in the Middle East and all around the world. …"The only thing we want in our region and in the globe is peace and justice."

After receiving the award, Erdoğan reported on his meeting with Qaddafi, indicating that ties between the two countries are growing.

Comment: Accepting"Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights" three months ago says all one needs to know about Erdoğan. (February 28, 2011)

Feb. 28, 2011 update: A reader sent me another article from Zaman,"PM refuses to return Gaddafi award in face of calls from civil society." An excerpt:

In response to growing calls from Turkish society on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to return the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights he received last year, the Prime Ministry said yesterday that"returning the award is out of the question." … The refusal to return the award may be linked to the safety of thousands of Turks in Libya who still expect to be evacuated.

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