World Bulletin/News Desk
The controversial remarks of Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose have been met by strong reactions by not only Turkish politicians but also Turkish analysts, who consider his remarks on Muslims and Istanbul unacceptable and Islamophobic.
“The governor's remarks are very disturbing, Islamophobic and racist. It could be understandable if he promotes his city while criticizing rival cities about their developments. However, his remarks about Muslims are definitely unacceptable. His remarks are off track and derogatory,” Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a prominent jurist-writer, told Turkish press.
Inose, who heads Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Olympics Games, said in a recent interview with The New York Times that “Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes.”
He also added that Istanbul, which is widely perceived as Tokyo's biggest rival to host the 2020 Olympics Games, is less developed and less equipped to host the games when compared to Tokyo.
The three cities that are the candidates to host the Olympic and Paralympics Games to be held in 2020 are Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul.
Should Istanbul be selected, it will be the first time in history that the Olympic Games will be organized by a Muslim-majority country.
Although he apologized on Tuesday for his “inappropriate” comments about rival candidate Istanbul and Muslim countries, his remarks sparked a serious debate in Turkey.
“His remarks are totally alienating a society for its religion. This is religious discrimination. His remarks are enough for Tokyo not to be selected for the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee [IOC] should not select Tokyo after the governor's remarks,” said Cengiz.
Turkey's Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç also said that the remarks of the governor were “unfair and disheartening” and did not comply with the spirit of the values of the Olympic movement.
The governor's comments appear to break the IOC's rules, particularly Rule 14, which prevents candidate cities from commenting on their rivals.
“For the athletes, where will be the best place to be? Well, compare the two countries where they have yet to build infrastructure, very sophisticated facilities,” said Inose.
The governor's remarks about Istanbul could lead Tokyo to face a reprimand from the IOC Ethics Commission.
“It's very disappointing. We have never been critical of the other cities and we are not about to start. Istanbul is also bidding for 2020. However, we have not made any negative statements about the other candidate cities and we will not do so. We love Japanese people. We respect their beliefs and their culture,” said Kılıç on Twitter, accusing Inose of violating the Olympic spirit.
The chairman of the Felicity Party (SP), Mustafa Kamalak, also stated that the remarks of the governor were incompatible with sports ethics and the peaceful nature of Japanese people. “Associating Islam with fighting is unfair towards the religion as well as towards humanity. ‘Muslims are fighting with each other and the Olympics should not be hosted in İstanbul' is an argument which does not comply with the spirit of Islam and with the language of the Japanese people,” Kamalak told Turkish press.
Tokyo shoots itself in foot with governor's remarks
While the governor's remarks have prompted the IOC to investigate, it also sparked concern in Tokyo that it might affect the Japanese capital's bid for the Olympics.
“Indeed, Tokyo has shot itself in the foot with the remarks of the governor. His remarks are totally Islamophobic and it would be appropriate if Tokyo is not selected to host the games by the IOC. I hope this incident would be a plus point for Turkey in this competition,” Ayhan Kaya, the director of the European Institute at Bilgi University in İstanbul, told Today's Zaman.
Tokyo has yet to respond to an email from the authority enquiring about the meaning of the remarks, a spokesman for Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Olympics said.
The organizers of Tokyo's bid for the Olympics also repeated their commitment to the IOC's rules on Monday.
Inose had also stated that Turkey doesn't have an advantage because of its large population of youths over Japan's relatively aging society, adding that if the Turkish people want to live longer, they should imitate Japan's culture.
“There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn't mean much,” he was quoted as saying.
Inose is said to be more moderate than his nationalist predecessor, Shintaro Ishihara. However, Turkish analysts believe that Inose is also among the nationalist line which is dominant in Japanese society.
“The Japanese state has for several years argued that it has a homogeneous society. A nationalist language is very dominant in Japan. Therefore, it is not surprising to hear such Islamophobic and racist remarks from a Japanese governor,” said Kaya.
While apologizing for his remarks, Inose accepted that the New York Times story was correct, adding that he would not seek a correction from the paper.
“I apologize. My remarks caused misunderstandings among people from Muslim countries, so I would like to unequivocally apologize,” Inose said on Tuesday, adding that it was a “good experience” and he now understood where the “lines are drawn.”Last Mod: 01 Mayıs 2013, 10:25