Chomsky rejects Erdogan’s charge of ‘ignorance’

US academic says Turkish president has been aiding Isis and supporting al-Nusra Front

Noam Chomsky  also claimed Recep Tayyip Erdogan was operating double standards on terrorism. Photograph: Daniel Lynch

Noam Chomsky also claimed Recep Tayyip Erdogan was operating double standards on terrorism. Photograph: Daniel Lynch


The left-wing US academic Noam Chomsky has hit back at Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Turkish president accused him of ignorance and sympathising with terrorists.

Hours after Tuesday’s bomb attack on a tourist area of Istanbul, Erdogan delivered a sneering criticism of Chomsky and “so-called intellectuals” who had signed a letter calling on Turkey to lift its siege against Kurdish towns and cities in the southeast of the country.

He invited Chomsky to visit the area in a defiant televised speech to a conference of Turkish ambassadors in Ankara.

Chomsky has now rejected the invitation. In an email to the Guardian he said: “If I decide to go to Turkey, it will not be on his invitation, but as frequently before at the invitation of the many courageous dissidents, including Kurds, who have been under severe attack for many years.”

Chomsky also claimed Erdogan was operating double standards on terrorism.

In the open letter to Erdogan released last month, Chomsky and hundreds of others accused him of waging war against his own people.

It said: “The responsibility for the present self-inflicted crisis in the country must lie squarely with Erdogan, who perceives the Kurds – whether it is the HDP [the pro-Kurdish, left-leaning party that gained 81 seats at the last election], the PYD in Syria or the PKK [the separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party] – as obstacles to his plan to establish supreme rule for the Turkish presidency.


In his speech, Erdogan said: “Let our ambassador from the US invite Chomsky, who has made statements about Turkey’s operations against the terrorist organisation. Let’s host him in the region.”

Referring to operations of Kurdish separatists in the PKK, Erdogan added: “We are ready to tell them what is happening in the southeast. They should see with their eyes whether the problem is a violation by the state or the hijacking of our citizens’ rights and freedoms by the terrorist organisation.”

He accused Chomsky and the other signatories of displaying the “mentality of colonialism” . “You so- called intellectuals are not enlightened persons, you are in the dark. You are nothing like intellectuals.”

A live translation by Al Jazeera quoted Erdogan saying: “I have a message for those academics. Just putting your signature on a dry piece of paper means nothing. Come to Turkey.

‘Fifth column’

In his email to the Guardian, Chomsky accused Erdogan of hypocrisy. He said: “Turkey blamed Isis [for the Istanbul attack], which Erdogan has been aiding in many ways, while also supporting the al-Nusra Front, which is hardly different. He then launched a tirade against those who condemn his crimes against Kurds – who happen to be the main ground force opposing Isis in both Syria and Iraq. Is there any need for further comment?”

– ( Guardian service)