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Jihadist ideologues argue over Turkey’s Erdogan


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FDD's Long War Journal

Thomas Joscelyn and Caleb Weiss

September 28, 2020

Two influential jihadist ideologues are engaged in a heated war of words concerning Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The permissibility of receiving assistance from Erdoğan’s government has long been the subject of intense debate within jihadist circles. And the latest back-and-forth reveals it is a controversy that hasn’t subsided.

The bickering began social media when Sheikh Abdullah al-Muhaysini, a Saudi who has worked with various jihadist groups in Syria, responded to a book published in Turkey that accused him and others of agitating against Erdoğan. To rebut the charge, Muhaysini cited the opinion of one of his teachers, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al-Tarifi, who has been imprisoned inside Saudi Arabia.

“Erdogan is a diligent Muslim, ardent in God’s religion, and who is trying to reform his country, and support the issues of the Muslims, and not all decisions are in his hands,” Muhaysini quotes Tarifi as ruling. Tarifi compared Erdoğan to previous Muslim rulers who were constrained by their present circumstances, thereby absolving Turkey’s leader for his failure to rule entirely according to the jihadists’ version of sharia, or Islamic law. According to Muhaysini, Tarifi rejected takfiri claims leveled against Erdoğan, arguing that these are an “exaggeration.” That is, for Muhaysini and Tarifi, Erdoğan is not an apostate and shouldn’t be branded as being outside the Islamic faith.


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