Whisked Away

Enes Kanter, NBA player and Erdogan target.
Enes Kanter, NBA player and Erdogan target.

Ibrahim Kalin was to be a keynote speaker at the MAS-ICNA convention. This bothered a lot of people, especially opponents of the Turkish government living in the United States. Their agitation is well understandable.

“MAS-ICNA” stands for “Muslim American Society” and “Islamic Circle of North America.” Jointly, these organizations hold an annual convention, taking place in Chicago at the end of the year. Ibrahim Kalin is a famous figure, or an infamous one, depending on whom you talk to: A former academic in the United States, he is the chief adviser to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey.

Incidentally, Erdogan has a keen interest in American Muslim organizations. He sees himself as a leader of the Islamic world at large. In 2016, one of his daughters, Sumeyye, was a star at the MAS-ICNA convention.

Back to Kalin. Last September, he made remarks that raised eyebrows, to put it mildly. Speaking in Ankara, he said, “Relevant units and institutions will continue their operations in countries where FETO operates, whether in the U.S. or another country. The Turkish Republic will not let them rest. They will feel Turkey breathing down their neck.”

“FETO”? More on that in a moment. As it happened, Kalin could not appear at the MAS-ICNA convention, as he traveled to Moscow with a Turkish delegation to discuss cooperation between Turkey and Russia in the Syrian war. This was in the wake of President Trump’s announcement of a U.S. withdrawal from that country. To the convention, Turkey’s consul general in Chicago read out a message from Erdogan himself.

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