The move by a London-based charity with links to the Muslim Brotherhood to grant a humanitarian award to Turkish First Lady Emine Erdoğan is part of what critics have labelled an image-polishing exercise, wrote Hannah Lucinda Smith for UK newspaper The Times.
Emine Erdoğan on April 17 was presented the “Changemaker” award at the World Humanitarian Forum in London for her work championing refugees.
While her husband’s international policy advocates humanitarianism, sending tonnes of aid to Somalia and numerous other countries, the 65-year-old Turkish president is less concerned about human rights in Turkey, the article said.
Highlighting that the government of Erdoğan has jailed or dismissed more than 150,000 opponents since the July 2016 coup attempt, The Times article added that the Turkish president’s operations against Kurdish militants in Turkey and Syria have killed thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands.
“Erdogan is repackaging Turkey’s image as the heir to a glorious empire, one that takes care of the downtrodden in Africa and Asia,” the article quoted Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, an expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, as saying.
This is Mrs Erdoğan’s second award received in London in the past six months, the article said noting that the the World Humanitarian Forum is a UK-registered company has directors are Turkish citizens who live in Britain, while the third is a British citizen of Turkish origin.
The directors of the organisation also run a company called Aid and Trade London, which organised the event at the Excel Arena, the article said, adding that. the company’s inaugural director, Mohammed Imran Arshad, set up the British branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, considered a terrorist organisation by the governments of Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among others.
While Erdoğan is a supporter of the group, it noted, said companies, plus two others run by the same directors, are registered to an address at The Shard, which is the London development owned by the Qatar Investment Authority.
The founder London-based consulting firm Cornerstone Global Associates Ghanem Nuseibeh came out in criticism of the award given to Emine Erdoğan, saying that “Foreign governments trying to legitimize charities with ideologies that are a threat to Britain must be challenged.’’