A $100 million mosque under construction outside Washington, D.C. attracted a visit last week from Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Writer Ryan Mauro notes that Maryland Secretary of State John McDonough was on hand, along with representatives of two Islamist groups, for a ceremony at the mosque's construction site. "The Turkish American Culture and Civilization Center (TACC) is a project of the government of Turkey" which will serve as a religious center and a place to promote Turkish culture, an article in the Muslim Link said.
But Turkish culture and values under Erdoğan have skewed away from Western alliances and toward Islamists.
Erdoğan has been a consistent advocate for the Hamas government in Gaza and rebuffed Washington's requests that he cancel a planned visit to meet the Hamas officials next month. Although Hamas rejects any peaceful settlement with Israel, Erdoğan says Hamas must be part of any peace efforts. In making this demand, he has not publicly called on Hamas to renounce terror and accept Israel's right to exist. "Hamas has to be around the table for peace to emerge in the Middle East," he said.
In Maryland, Mauro reports, Erdoğan brought the father of a man killed in 2010 on a Turkish flotilla that tried to break Israel's blockade on Gaza, which was imposed to try to slow the flow of weapons to Hamas. Erdoğan's government helped facilitate a meeting with the man and Secretary of State John Kerry.
Videos from the confrontation show that violence broke out on the Mavi Marmara after the ship's passengers attacked Israeli commandos as they tried to enforce the blockade. The boarding followed repeated Israeli warnings to turn back due to the blockade, which even the United Nations determined is legal and proper to keep weapons from reaching Hamas.
"The Turkish government has been quietly spreading its influence in the U.S.," Mauro writes, and the prime minister's visit to the Lanham mosque site is a sign of his "desire to increase the Islamist influence in America."