Iranian Member of Parliament Laleh Eftekhari recently wrote a letter to the wife of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Emine Erdogan, condemning her failure as a mother to act when photos of her son Bilal with Islamic State [Daesh] leaders were published in world media. The letter was published in the press on Wednesday, December 2.
"I was taken aback after seeing your son's photo alongside the IS ringleaders, and your silence," the MP wrote. “My sister! We are both mothers and this silence and ignorance is unlikely from a mother."
Mrs Eftekhari has taken a critical line against Turkish policies towards the jihadist movement in the past. In the letter, MP Eftekhari also reminds Mrs Erdogan of some of Daesh’s crimes, including the killing of children, the beheading of innocent people, the use of women as sex slaves and more.
The same day that the letter was published, Turkish newspaper Aksam, which is affiliated to the Turkish government, reported that the photo of Bilal had been taken in a restaurant and that the people standing next to him were the restaurant’s owners.
MP Laleh Eftekhari spoke to IranWire about her reasons for writing and publishing the letter.
Why did you decide to write the letter?
Because I was in Syria during the country’s darkest time and I saw upfront the suppression and misery the Syrian people were going through. The elections that took place in Syria were free and the people welcomed it. I remember how one day a bomb had gone off in Aleppo - that opponents of the government and democracy had set it off – which injured a voter. But despite his injuries, the man still insisted on casting his vote before being taken to hospital. That’s how important peoples’ sense of duty is in terms of voting in Syria. And yet now some countries aren’t accepting a president that was elected by the people.
You said you were present in Syria during the elections. Why were you there?
I supervised the Syrian elections. There was a lot of excitement around them. I spoke to people and saw their joy after the elections. When the results came out, I was in Zeynabieh and saw how people flocked to the streets. Now I think we shouldn’t interfere there, especially when the people have decided that for themselves.
Why did you write to the Turkish president’s wife and not the president himself?
Because Mr Erdogan’s wife wore the hejab when there were many restrictions against wearing it in Turkey, which brought renewed hope that there would be a revival of Islamic culture in the country, something that the Turkish people deserve. The second reason is because they sent a boat to help the people of Gaza. All of these things show that Turkey has done a lot of valuable things in recent years. They’ve supported the resistance and the people and today, they should back the Syrian people. Syria is the axis of resistance and is hated by the Zionist regime [Israel].
I was in Turkey a while ago and I witnessed homeless Syrian women and children suffering in the cold weather. Therefore, when I saw Mr Erdogan’s son taking photographs with Daesh leaders, I decided to write this letter, because I’ve seen the hardships of the Syrian people. I think taking a photo with people who’ve made so many mothers mourn for their children and made so many Syrian children orphans and made so many Syrian women widows, doesn’t make sense. I always thought how could a mother accept a son who’s degraded himself to the point of taking photos with criminals and then stay silent? I felt a duty as a Muslim woman to ask her about this.
Do you think the letter will have an impact?
We should always believe that a person can change. No matter what position he or she is in. I said in my letter that I hope she’d [Emine Erdogan] change course. Letters like this are left to the recipient to think about and act upon. Those who have clear minds and good hearts will think about the contents and hopefully change for the better in the process.