French researcher rapped over Erdogan assassination ‘incitement’

This April 15, 2017 photo, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan applauds during the last rally prior to the July 16 referendum, in Istanbul. (AP)
Updated 27 April 2017

French researcher rapped over Erdogan assassination ‘incitement’

ANKARA: Comments by a French researcher that allegedly amounted to incitement of the assassination of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have sparked harsh criticism in Ankara.
In his controversial comments made to French BFM channel on Saturday, Philippe Moreau Defarges of the IFRI (French Institute of International Relations), said that following the April 16 referendum in Turkey, two options were left to the country: Either a civil war or assassination of Erdogan.
“The legal ways have been blocked,” Defarges, a former diplomat, noted.
The comments caused uproar in Turkey, with Erdogan’s lawyer reportedly having filed a criminal complaint against Defarges.
It follows the recent referendum in Turkey, in which Erdogan-backed constitutional changes were approved with just 51 percent of votes. It was followed by allegations of irregularities and the need to launch a transparent investigation into claims of illegal votes.
Defarges, who later apologized for his comments on Twitter, said that Erdogan’s increased authority in Turkey, with the move from a parliamentary system to a presidential one, would result in a “catastrophe” for the country.
IFRI quickly released a statement emphasizing that Defarges’ comments, made on a personal basis, do not represent the view of the institution itself.
Reactions mounted following the provocative remarks.
The ex-spokesperson of the Federation of Muslims of the South of France, Feiza Ben Mohamed, criticized Defarges on Twitter, saying that his words were “an incitement to a terrorist attack, no more and no less.”
Defarges’ apology was not received well by Turkey, with Erdogan’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin saying it was not enough. “We cannot underestimate such an issue. This is a test for Europe to show how it will react. We will do our best do delegitimize such fascist approaches,” he added.
The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that Erdogan’s lawyer Huseyin Aydin said the comments cannot be considered in the context of freedom of expression, but rather they intend to incite crime.
Aydin implied that if Defarges is in good mental health, then any alleged connections with the outlawed terrorist organization in Turkey, PKK, or any ties with the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed for being the mastermind of the failed coup attempt in Turkey, should be examined.
Dr. Ali Bakeer, an analyst and researcher on Turkey, said that given Defarges is a former diplomat, this suggests that he chose his words carefully. This further suggests that Defarges was inciting the assassination of Erdogan rather than trying to objectively discuss the topic he is talking about, Bakeer said.
“No matter what his real aim was, this is (an) absolutely unacceptable statement by all measures. It is very important to delegitimize such rhetoric, which carries latent hatred and increasingly becoming acceptable in such European circles,” Bakeer told Arab News.

A project helps Syrian entrepreneurs in four countries escape the shadow of war

Updated 13 December 2019

A project helps Syrian entrepreneurs in four countries escape the shadow of war

  • Start-ups are offered competitions, bootcamps and training programs
  • 'Spark' has been running an entrepreneurship program for five years

CAIRO: The Startup Roadshow was founded in 2018 to help Syrian refugees and expats in four different countries: Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan.

It was established when Spark, a Dutch organization supporting youth projects all over the world, reached out to Jusoor.

“We have been running our entrepreneurship program for five years, and we’ve been running training boot camps and competitions for Syrian startups,” said Dania Ismail, board member and director of Jusoor’s Entrepreneurship Program.

“We have also developed our own proprietary training curriculum, which is tailored to Syrian entrepreneurs, in the region and around the world.”

Spark sought out Jusoor to create a project to support Syrian entrepreneurs in those four countries, later bringing on Startups Without Borders to handle the competition’s outreach, marketing and PR.

“We came up with this idea where a team of trainers, facilitators, and mentors would move from one city to another because it’s hard for Syrian youth to travel around. So, we decided to go to them,” said Ismail, a Syrian expat all her life.

The competition goes through five cities: Beirut, Irbil, Amman, Gaziantep and İstanbul.

The boot camps last for five days in each city, and throughout the Roadshow, 100 entrepreneurs will undergo extensive training and one-on-one mentorship to develop their skills and insights into the business world.

“We have five modules that are taught on different days. Then, the pitches are developed, practiced and presented,” Ismail, 39, said.

“In each location, we pick the top two winners — in total, we’ll have top 10 winners from each city.”

The top 10 teams pitched their ideas live in front of a panel of judges, at the second edition of Demo Day 2019, which was held in Amman on Nov. 4.

The best three Syrian-led startups won cash prizes of $15,000, $10,000, and $7,000, respectively.

They also had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas during Spark Ignite’s annual conference in Amsterdam. The competition aims to give young Syrians the hard-to-get chance to secure a foothold in the business world.

“We’re trying to empower young Syrians who are interested in the entrepreneurial and tech space. We want to empower them with knowledge, skills and confidence to launch their ideas,” Ismail said.

Despite the limited duration of the Roadshow and the lack of financial aid, the people behind the program still do their best to help all applicants.

“We try as much as possible to continue supporting them on their journeys with mentorship, advice and connections through our very large network of experts and entrepreneurs,” she said.

Jusoor’s efforts to help Syrian youth do not stop at the Roadshow, and the future holds much in store for this fruitful collaboration.

“We’re expanding our entrepreneurship program, and our next project will be an accelerator program that will continue working with a lot of the promising teams that come out of the Startup Roadshow,” Ismail said.

“We want to provide something that has a partial online component and a partial on-ground one, as well as an investment component where these companies receive funding as investment, not just grants and prizes,” she said in relation to the second phase of the Entrepreneurship Program, which is launching in 2020.

Ismail said: “The Roadshow was created so that Syrian youth can have the chance to change their reality, becoming more than victims of an endless war.

“The competition gives them the tools to become active members of society, wherever they may be, contributing to the economies of those countries.

“Once you’ve built up this generation and given them those skills and expertise, they’ll be the generation that comes back to rebuild the economy in Syria, once things are stable enough there.

“We hope that a lot of these young entrepreneurs the Startup Roadshow was able to inspire, train or help will be the foundation for the future of a small- to medium-sized economy inside Syria.”


• This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.