Mosques are our barracks, domes our helmets, minarets our bayonets, believers our soldiers.And this, supposedly, proves that minarets are seen as a triumphalist gesture over Christianity. (Apparently this quote also was used during the Swiss campaign.)
Okay: let's look at some facts, which, as John Adams once said, are stubborn things:
- Erdogan did utter those words, and was prosecuted and imprisoned for doing so, as being a violation of Turkish secularism. He was not, of course, Prime Minister at the time.
- They are not his words. He was reciting a poem by the great Turkish nationalist Ziya Gökalp.
- Ziya Gökalp was not an Islamist. In fact he was a staunch Kemalist secularist, committed to the Westernization (though not necessarily democratization) of Turkey. He was a sociologist, poet, and ultra-nationalist, a complex man deeply influenced by Emile Durkheim. Erdogan was quoting his poem a bit out of context as I think those applauding the Swiss referendum (and those who jailed Erdogan for quoting the poem) are quoting Erdogan out of context.
- They were not written about Christianity or Western Europe: they are essentially, I think, intended to defend Turkey's cultural heritage.