Turks enraged by Saudi executions

With four strokes of the executioner's sword, Saudi Arabia has achieved what generations of Turkey's secular propagandists could never quite induce among their Muslim population: a deep and widespread sense of revulsion against the idea of sharia, or Islamic law.

Day after day this week, the media have splashed gut-wrenching pictures of beheaded bodies to illustrate the execution, after several years on death-row, of four alleged Turkish drug-smugglers, two on 11 August and two on 14 August.

"It's so disgusting, I can't look. Surely this can't be Islam?" said a Turkish woman in a traditional Muslim headscarf as she read the news.

"Everybody's talking about it. I think the anger is a lot of things mixed together," said a woman travel executive, taking a break from a record tourist season that illustrates the pragmatism of Turkey's 60 million Muslims: the invasion has been led by fun-and-casino seekers from Israel.

The Turks have long nursed an ill-concealed dislike of Arabs, laced with suspicion of their southern neighbours after they betrayed the Ottoman Empire in alliance with the likes of Lawrence of Arabia.

Anger is also high at the hypocrisy of the Saudis for punishing mostly Turkish truck-drivers for transporting Captagon, a prescription stimulant in Europe that is widely consumed in the Gulf as an orgasm-delaying aphrodisiac.

Turkish outrage may have encouraged the Saudis to stay their hand yesterday during the traditional execution time after Friday prayers: a Pakistani was killed instead. An envoy sent by the Turkish government to Riyadh is being hosted by the Saudis in a guest house as he waits for an audience with the King to try to save 40 other Turks who risk execution. Turkey has also spoken of extending their ambassador's home leave or even recalling him in protest. The Saudis have not put down their swords, however, and are sticking to a vision of Islam much more fundamentalist than that of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Officials say that convictions for drug-smuggling - like rape, murder and violent robbery - carry the widely advertised and mandatory death- penalty.

Saudi Arabia's newspapers said in chorus yesterday that, in the words of Al-Riyadh, "this country will continue to implement Islamic sharia regardless of anything''.

Westerners may characterise Islam as a religion of chopped hands and heads, but most Turks feel shock at the idea of killing anybody for a non-violent crime in the name of Islam. "My Islam is about love, about mercy," shouted the leader of a protest march to the Saudi Embassy in Ankara.

Columnists have insisted on Turkey's pragmatic vision of an Islam that adapts to modern thoughts and trends.

Complicating matters are Turkish suspicions that the Saudis started executing Turks because Pakistan had complained that only Pakistanis were being killed.

Amnesty International says Saudi Arabia has executed 142 people this year, nearly three times last year's total, mostly alleged drug-smugglers.

Also interesting will be the impact of the executions on Turkey's domestic politics, which faces a wide-open general election next year. Recent opinion polls have been led by the Welfare Party, which, backed by Saudi Arabia, has skilfully won Turkish voters by stressing its Islamic identity without ever defining exactly where it stands on executions or Islamic law.

Officials from Welfare's Islamist wing have kept quiet, while its liberal wing has publicly criticised the Saudis.

The Welfare Party leader, Necmettin Erbakan, usually quick enough to fly to Saudi Arabia, has squirmed with political embarrassment.

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice