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Turkish Prime Minister: ‘There Is a 360-Degree Difference Between Turkish Islam and ISIS’

The Turkish prime minister meant to say Turkish Islam is a 180-degree turn from that of the Islamic State's. Instead, he said it was essentially the same.

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu delivers a speech during the parliamentary group meeting of the Justice and Development Party at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara on July 29, 2015. Turkish warplanes on July 29 pounded targets of PKK militants in northern Iraq, as parliament met in emergency session to debate the government's controversial campaign against Kurdish rebels and jihadists. AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN        (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu delivers a speech during the parliamentary group meeting of the Justice and Development Party at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara on July 29, 2015. Turkish warplanes on July 29 pounded targets of PKK militants in northern Iraq, as parliament met in emergency session to debate the government's controversial campaign against Kurdish rebels and jihadists. AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Ask Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to describe the difference between his interpretation of Islam and that of the Islamic State, and he’ll tell you there’s no distinction at all — entirely by accident, of course.

Islamic State jihadis allegedly detonated two bombs at an Ankara peace rally last week, killing 99 and sparking many critics inside the country to accuse the Turkish government of failing to act on intelligence that could have prevented the attack. Other conspiracies included claims that the Kurdish opposition or the government itself was responsible for the attacks.

Davutoglu went on Turkish channel Show TV on Wednesday night in an attempt to rescue Ankara from those charges. It didn’t go very well: In a major geometrical gaffe, Davutoglu instead ended up saying Turkey is directly aligned with the extremist group.

“There is a 360-degree, not 180-degree, difference between the Islam we defend and what Daesh has on its mind,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

Davutoglu, who was previously an academic, is the author of a book called Strategic Depth. His scholarly background only made the very public mistake even easier fodder for his opponents to poke fun.

On Twitter, Idris Baluken, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, used that irony to his advantage.

“It’s very clear what happened to the strategic depth, now it’s the turn for the geometrical depth,” he wrote.

Photo credit: ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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