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Turkish Islamists’ trial with sectarianism

Turkish Islamists’ Middle Eastern vision did not begin with a sectarian outlook, but the existing sectarian tension may change this.
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When former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Turkey in 2008, he was warmly welcomed by Turkey’s Islamists, who were angry at the United States over the occupation of Iraq and at Israel over the suffering in the Gaza Strip. Ahmadinejad was embraced as a defiant hero against both.

Today, eight years later, the mood in Turkey is quite different. If the current Iranian president visited the Blue Mosque, he would probably see a wave of protests instead of welcoming crowds. The Islamist media is not full of praises for Iran as an anti-imperialist hero; rather, it strongly criticizes its eastern neighbor as an imperialist power. At the extreme, the distaste with Iran even extends to its dominant sect of Islam, Shiism, in websites or social media accounts that define Shiites as heretics who stab the real Muslims — Sunnis — in the back.

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