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Turkish investigative journalist Ahmet Sik has been in prison for two months, accused on terrorism charges for tweeting criticisms of the Erdogan-led Government. Today he made a rare venture back into the public eye - speaking as a defendant in a different trial

This is what he said

 
Investigative Journalist Ahmet Sik hugs his daughter at his trial today. He remains in custody (Credit: Sinan Karahan - Twitter)
 
 
Ahmet Sik 15 February 2017, Istanbul. OdaTv trial

Turkish investigative journalist Ahmet Sik was brought in front of a judge today to defend himself in the OdaTv trial. This is part of an investigation which started in 2011 when he was first detained for a year, accused with membership of a clandestine terrorist organisation, which was later found out to be fictional.

He is currently in jail waiting for the indictment in another case.

On 14 December 2016, the prosecutor wanted Ahmet Sik and other 13 defendants to be acquitted on the grounds of lack of evidence.

Sik refused and asked for extra time to defend himself in front of the court for the last time. The judge had postponed the hearing to 15 February 2017.

 

This is what Sik said in court today:

“Turkey is a strange country and has experienced many absurdities before now. But there has never been an era where universal democratic norms are thrown out and re-defined to serve the benefit of an organised evil which currently encompasses the country.

"George Orwell’s '1984' is frequently used to describe today’s Turkey, but Orwell would turn in his grave today. If you find this an exaggeration, I will give you a couple of examples.

"I’ll start with the most recent events. The [President Recep Tayyip Erdogan-backed leadership] are trying to sell us a one-man dictatorship as though it is democracy.

"The referendum [on 16 April to grant Erdogan more powers over the legislative branch of power] will be held under unequal circumstances, where everyone is sure there will be fraud, and where a person is branded a terrorist if he says he will vote 'no'.

"And the [leadership] present this referendum to us as the 'will of the nation'. They did not hesitate to turn the country into a bloodbath when the July 2015 general election result threatened their power and the oligarchic system they represent. At the end of the [Kurdish] peace process, the whole country turned into a graveyard.

"They want us to believe this is an advanced democracy and that press freedom is in its best ever era, and they say they have freed us from chains. But national and international organisations tell us: 'Turkey is the biggest prison for journalists in the world'.

"In the last ten years, pro-government loyalists liberally used the terms 'coup' and 'plotter' very liberally. Every anti-government movement was a 'coup' and every dissident was a 'plotter'. In fact, the actual military regimes and coups were welcomed by political Islamists in Turkey.

"The Justice and Development Party (the Erdogan-backed AKP Party) is itself the biggest example of this paradox of the illusion of democracy. They represent the mentality of darkness, but their logo is a light-bulb. They turn the country into a republic paved with cement, while destroying the environment and natural resources, and they call it development. And this trial itself shows their understanding of justice.

"Two of my lawyers are not here today. And not just them. My colleagues Murat Sabuncu, Kadri Gursel, Guray Oz, Turhan Gunay, Hakan Kara, Musa Kart and Onder Celik aren’t here either. They are in jail.

"When evil prevails, we need truth more than ever. Because when facts are written down, evil ceases to be the last word. Not speaking, not remembering and not allowing ourselves to remember is denying ourselves the truth.

"We [the journalists] were tried in courts because we refused to bow down to a government which has normalised totalitarianism. We chased the truth. The biggest legacy we inherited is the idea that saying what the powerful wants told is not journalism. The people who taught us this were or are still being punished with jail or exile. When this was not enough, they were silenced with bombs or bullets. The fight waged by the powerful against journalists in order to censor the truth has been going on since the dawn of journalism in this land.

"But this fight is futile. Because, whoever you are, you cannot fight an idea that has truth at its base. If you think you’re fighting it, you should know that you cannot win. You will lose again and again.”

The trial lasted eight hours. This was expected to be the last hearing in the case. The judge, however, annouced a further hearing for 12 April 2017.

As Ahmet was leaving the courtroom, he turned to his colleagues watching the trial and shouted:

“We will demolish this blockade.”

 

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A list of the mega-mosque projects Turkey is planning across five continents, revealing size, who is financing the construction, and when they are planned for delivery

Click here to view the map

 
 
EUROPE
 

Rebuilding a Muslim hub in Russia's capital: Moscow Central Mosque. Photo: maqiivi, Creatuve Commons

Moscow Central Mosque

Location: Moscow, Russia

Investor: The Russian Religious Authority built the rough construction. Financing comes from businessman Suleyman Kerimov (86 million Euro) and the Diyanet Foundation (12 million Euro).

Cost: 109 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 10,000

Status: Opened in September 2015

Info: Over six floors with two 72m-high minarets, this is the biggest mosque complex in Russia. Diyanet President Mehmet Gormez said: “After the Bolshevik regime that lasted for 100 years (sic), it is very important to build this mosque in Moscow with minarets reaching the sky with a crescent on the top as the symbol of peace.”

 

Presidential showpiece: new mosque in Ankara Photo: Sefacan Bekar (Wikimedia Commons)
 
Bestepe People's Mosque

Location: Ankara, Turkey

Investor: Presidency’s budget

Cost: Unknown

Worshipper capacity: 3,000

Status: Opened in July 2015

Info: Inside the Turkish President’s new 535 million Euro palace complex, this is 1,200 sqm in size with four 60-meter-high minarets.

 

A pastiche of the pinnacle of Ottoman architecture, the 16th century mosque in Selimiye: Corum mosque, central Turkey, rushed into opening in this election year

Corum Central Mosque

Location: Corum, Turkey

Cost: 5.2 million Euro

Investor: Presidency of Diyanet, Diyanet Foundation, Corum Municipality.

Worshipper capacity: 3,000

Status: Opened in June 2015

Info: Designed as a copy of the 16th Century Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey, buily by the master architect of the Ottoman rulers, Mimar Sinan. This is the fifth biggest mosque constructed during the Turkish Republican era (post-1923).

 

A pastiche of the pinnacle of Ottoman architecture, the 16th century mosque in Selimiye: Kirikkale mosque, central Turkey, opened in this election year

Kirikkale Central Nur Mosque

Location: Kirikkale, Turkey

Cost: 10.2 million Euro

Investor: Presidency of Diyanet & Diyanet Foundation

Worshipper capacity: 10,000

Construction status: Opened in May 2015 (by President Erdogan)

Info: Like Corum Central mosque above, this was also designed as a copy of the Mimar Sinan's Selimiye Mosque, leading critics to argue that Turkey is building identikit mosques of its masterpieces, rather than original designs or constructions which are in harmony with their surroundings.

 

 

Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque

Location: Ankara, Turkey

Investor: Diyanet

Cost: 13 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 6,000

Status: Opened in 2013

Info: Referred as “the VIP mosque”, this is within the Diyanet HQ, with seperate ablution rooms for state officials.

There is a tunnel between the Diyanet HQ and the mosque, which is only open to high officials and their guests.

During its construction phase, Diyanet constantly instructed mufti offices across Turkey to encourage mosque-goers to donate money for the building.

 

Dominating the Istanbul skyline: the plan for Camlica mosque (Photo: AA)

Camlica Mosque Complex

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Investor: Donations

Cost: 60 million Euro, possibly higher.

Worshipper capacity: 35,000

Status: Under construction, due mid-2016

Info: Reportedly the biggest mosque in the country since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, this will have six minarets and will be visible from the whole city.

By comparison, only the holy mosque in Mecca (Al-Masjid al-Haram) has seven minarets.

Camlica will also include a library, an art gallery and a conference center for 1,000 people, as well as recreational and sporting facilities. The project is designed by two female architects, Bahar Mızrak and Hayriye Gül Totu.

 

Sumptuous interiors near the Rhine: Diyanet's German mosque (Source: DITIB)

Marxloh Pollmann DITIB Mosque

Location: Duisburg, Germany

Investor: 50 per cent EU and the state of North Rhine Westphalia, 50 per cent DITIB, Diyanet’s sister organisation in Germany.

Cost: seven million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 3,500

Status: Opened in 2008

 

Cologne Mosque: in legal limboland for two years. Picture: Wikimedia Commons/ Pappnaas666

Cologne Central Mosque (DITIB-Zentralmoschee Köln)

Location: Cologne, Germany

Investor: Funded by DITIB, Diyanet’s sister organisation in Germany, loans, donations from Muslim associations.

Cost: 34 million Euro

Worshippers: 4,000

Status: Delivered, opening delayed

Info: Over 4,500 sqm, this was designed by Cologne-born church architect Paul Boehm as an industrial spin on the Ottoman architectural style, with glass walls, two 55-meter minarets and a dome, a bazaar, lecture halls and library. Construction is finished, but opening is delayed due to an ongoing court case.

 
Pristina Mosque

Location: Pristina, Kosovo

Investor: Diyanet Foundation

Cost: Unknown

Worshipper capacity: 7,000

Status: Planning. Construction due to start.

Info: Over 40,000 sqm, this is another replica of the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey, including conference and seminar rooms and an education centre.

 

Recreating a vision of Turkish Islam in Kosovo: Mitrovica Mosque (Source: Diyanet)

Mitrovica Bayrampasa Isabey Mosque

Location: Mitrovica, Kosovo

Investor: Istanbul Bayrampasa Mufti’s office

Cost: Two million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 4,200

Status: Opened in June 2014

Info: Claimed to be the biggest mosque so far in the Balkans with two 48-metre high minarets. Donated by the municipality of Bajram Pasa in Istanbul, as a replacement for the Isa Beg Mosque damaged during Kosovo conflict in 1999.

 
Bucharest Mosque

Location: Bucharest, Romania

Investor: Romania provides land with market value of 3.9 million Euro, Turkey finances construction, most probably done through the Diyanet Foundation.

Cost: Unknown

Worshipper capacity: 1,500

Status: The Romanian Mufti’s office has authorisation for construction to begin

Info: The Mufti states Turkey should finance the project, although the details are not finalised. Construction must be finished by 2018 under a deal with the Bucharest authorities

 
Kardzhali Mosque

Location: Kardzhali, Bulgaria

Investor: Likely to be Diyanet

Cost: Unknown

Worshipper capacity: 1,500

Status: Unknown

 
Tirana Mosque, Albania: Called the biggest in the Balkans (photo: camilereyardim.com)
 
Tirana Mosque

Location: Tirana, Albania

Investor: Diyanet Foundation

Cost: 30 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 4,500

Status: Under construction, due in 2017

Info: In May 2015 Erdogan laid the foundation stone on Albania's mega-construction. Called the “biggest mosque in the Balkans”, this is part of an Islamic complex in the heart of Tirana, which is set to house conference and exhibition halls, libraries and museums. Nearby, a "museum of coexistence" will be erected, Erdogan said, adding that it would act as "a symbol of religious tolerance".

 

Budapest Mosque

Location: Budapest, Hungary

Investor: Diyanet Foundation

Cost: Unknown.

Worshipper capacity: Unknown

Status: No location found.

Info: Designed as an exhibition space, cafe, a four-minaret mosque, cultural centre and guest house, this mosque is still only at the planning stage.

The Budapest city mayor István Tarlós confirmed the question of a mosque “has been raised” with officials at the Turkish Embassy, but they have not yet found a suitable location.

 

Gorazde Kayseri Mosque

Location: Gorazde, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Investor: Kayseri people in Turkey

Cost: 0.95 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 1,000

Status: Opened in 2009

Info: In 2013, Diyanet announced that they also will start building, through the Turkish overseas development agency TIKA, a “culture and education complex” next to the mosque. There will be a conference hall, Gorazde Mufti’s office, other halls and a religious high school.

 

Cambridge, UK is due an "eco-mosque" from the architects of the London Eye (photo: camilereyardim.com)

Cambridge Mosque

Location: UK, Cambridge University

Investor: Diyanet Foundation/local Cambridge community/Donors

Cost: 23 million Euro, projected cost.

Worshipper capacity: 1,000

Status: Designs completed, under negotiation.

Info: In 2013, Erdogan sent a team from the Diyanet and Diyanet Foundation and Prime Ministerial officials to Cambridge to carry out talks on a mosque in Cambridge. Architects of the London Eye Marks Barfield and Professor Keith Critchlow of the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts were appointed by the Muslim Academic Trust to design what intends to be an “eco-mosque”. At three stories high, this is a mosque which aims to complement rather than overpower its surroundings.

“As yet no construction has commenced,” says Timothy Winter, professor of Islamic studies at the the University of Cambridge. “The land has been purchased and planning permission obtained. Most donations have come from the local Cambridge community, including, pleasingly, many non-Muslim neighbours who are strongly supportive of the plans. We are hoping for significant donations through Diyanet, but the mosque will not be a Diyanet mosque.”

 

 
Embracing the local style of Mosques in Minsk (photo: camilereyardim.com)
 
Minsk Mosque

Location: Belarus, Minsk   

Investor: Diyanet Foundation

Cost: 4.5 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 5,000

Status: Planning

Info: There are 30,000 Muslims in Belarus.

 

 
A Turkish stamp on Cyprus: Hala Sultain Mosque (photo: camilereyardim.com)
 
Nicosia Hala Sultan Mosque

Location: Nicosia, TRNC (Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus)

Investor: Diyanet & Diyanet foundation & Association of Cypriot Foundations

Cost: 13.4 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 7,500

Status: Construction started, due 2016

Info: Turkish Vice Prime Minister Besir Atalay was present during the “laying down foundation” ceremony in 2013. In his speech he said: “this project will be the Cypriot Turk stamp on this island” which is still disputed territory between Cypriot Greeks and Turks.

 

Mosque plan for Crimea (photo: camilereyardim.com)

Crimea Seyit Settar Mosque

Location: Simferopol, Occupied Crimea

Investor: Diyanet Foundation

Cost: Unknown

Worshipper capacity: Unknown

Status: Designs completed, under negotiation

Info: The mosque is supposed to have started construction in March 2015, but is suffering delays due to the Russian accession of Crimea, this is still listed on the Diyanet Foundation’s site as an ongoing project.

 
Serving the Turks abroad: Dutch mega-mosque in Utrecht Picture Wikimedia/FaceMePLS
 
Utrecht Ulu Cami Mosque

Location: Utrecht, the Netherlands

Investor: The Netherlands Islamic Union (HDV) Diyanet’s sister organisation in Holland

Cost: 11 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 2,000

Status: opened in June 2015

Info: The biggest mosque in the Netherlands with the tallest minarets. There are around 200 Turkish mosques in the Netherlands.

 
Aziziye Mosque

Location: Batumi, Georgia

Investor: Diyanet Foundation

Cost: Unknown

Worshipper capacity: Unknown

Status: unknown, local Government still has to find space

Info: In 2013, then Georgian PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said that the local government will find a suitable place for the mosque.

According to an agreement between the two countries, Georgia will restore the ruined Christian monasteries of Oshk and Ishkhan in northeast Turkey. However the nationalist Orthodox community is against the plans saying Georgia doesn’t need another mosque.

In Batumi, where the Ottoman State had ruled for about 300 years and built many mosques, there is one mosque that survives today.

Some local Muslims also want to build a mosque from their own pockets without interference from the Turks.

 

MIDDLE EAST

 

Nine Gaza Mosques

Location: Gaza, Occupied Territories

Investor: Diyanet Foundation

Cost: 16.4 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: unknown

Status: Planning done, construction due to start

Info: The Diyanet President said in 2014 they would start to rebuild or repair nine Gaza mosques that Israel has demolished, from a total of 70 wrecked places of worship.

 
 
CENTRAL ASIA
 
 
Turkish President Erdogan and Kazakh counterpart Nazerbayov open Turkey's mega-mosque in Turkistan (http://www.aktifhaber.com/erdogan-kazakistanda-cami-acilisi-yapti-1156180h.htm)
 
Hoca Ahmet Yesevi Mosque

Location: Turkistan, Kazakhstan

Investor: Funded by Diyanet and Diyanet Foundation

Cost: 11 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 2,700

Status: Opened in April 2015

Info: Turkey calls this mosque "a gift" from the Turkish state to the Kazakh people.

At its opening, Diyanet Foundation representative Mazhar Bilgin said: “Except for concrete, steel and sand, everything to build this mosque was brought from Turkey. Marble, stones, electric instruments, paint, rugs, everything. Workers were brought from Turkey… The mosque reflects Central Asian Turkic and Ottoman architecture. We designed and produced everything in Turkey. So it was a beautiful way of showing these people the things we have, but they don’t have here.”  

 

 
Space-age Uni mosque in Kazakhstan  (source: camilereyardim.com)
 
Hoca Ahmet Yesevi University Mosque

Location: Turkistan, Kazakhstan

Investor: Diyanet Foundation & Diyanet

Cost: 2.7 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: Unknown

Status: Planning done, construction to start soon

Info: The mosque is to be built in the university campus.

 

Bishkek wins fresh mega-mosque injection (source: camilereyardim.com)

Bishkek Mosque

Location: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Investor: Diyanet Foundation & Diyanet

Cost: 27 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 6,000

Status: Due for 2017

Info: With four 70-meter high minarets, the Diyanet Foundation says it will be the biggest mosque in Central Asia.  

 

NORTH AMERICA
 
 
Diyanet Center of America

Location: Lanham, Maryland, USA

Investor: Diyanet & Diyanet Foundation

Cost: 90.5 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 3,000

Status: Open in June 2015

Info: The only mosque in America with two minarets. Built around the corner from Washington D.C.

 
 
CENTRAL AMERICA

 

Plan for Haiti  (source: camilereyardim.com)

Buhara El Imam Mosque

Location: Cap-Haitien, Haiti

Investor: Diyanet & Diyanet Foundation

Cost: Unknown

Worshipper capacity: 500

Status: Construction started in April 2014.

 

‘Ortakoy’ Mosque

Location: Havana, Cuba

Investor: Turkey

Cost: Unknown

Worshipper capacity: 3,500

Status: Proposal stage

Info: Turkey and Saudi Arabia are both vying with Cuba to open a mosque on the Caribbean island. Turkey’s proposal is a replica of the 19th century neo-baroque ‘Ortakoy’ Mosque in Istanbul.

Erdogan stated that if Raul Castro accepts Saudi Arabia's plan, he will instead open a mosque on another part of the secular and Communist island, probably in Santiago. There are 9,000 Muslims in Cuba.

 

AFRICA

 

Somalia Central Mosque

Location: Somalia, Mogadishu

Investor: Diyanet Foundation & Diyanet

Cost: 2.7 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: Unknown

Status: 75 per cent completed

Info: This will be the largest mosque in Somalia.

 
Haci Tenzile Erdogan Mosque

Location: Mogadishu, Somalia

Investor: Turkish Housing Development Fund (TOKI)

Cost: Unknown

Worshipper capacity: 2,300

Status: Opened in January 2015.

Info: The mosque is named after President Erdogan’s mother.

 

Aiming to free people "from slavery and ignorance": Mali mosque: (photo: AA)

Bamako Eyup Sultan Mosque

Location: Bamako, Mali

Investor: Diyanet and Diyanet Foundation

Cost: 1.9 million Euro

Worshipper capacity: 750

Status: Opened in December 2013

Info: Diyanet calls this construction the first mosque with “Ottoman architecture” in Africa.

Bamako has a twin town in Turkey, Eyup, which helped initiate the mosque. The Eyup Muftihood wrote on its website about the new mosque:

“It is very meaningful to build a mosque like this in a country where more than 70 per cent of the population’s only dream is to find a job as a servant in a rich person’s house… They, through this mosque, will be free from ignorance and slavery and will embrace the spiritual qualities that have been destroyed… These people will come alive, will stand on their own feet and [Mali] will become a truly independent country.”

 

 

This information comes from the local, international and Turkish media and from religious leaders in the respective countries.

However Diyanet and the Diyanet Foundation did not return our attempts to confirm this information, or provide us with new information.

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