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PolitiFact: Turks, Arabs share religion, but Turks aren't Arabs

The statement

Turkey is an Arab country.

Liberal blog publisher Markos Moulitsas, on ABC's This Week on Sunday.

The ruling

Markos Moulitsas, who publishes the liberal blog Daily Kos, joined a discussion on This Week that touched on Israeli commandos boarding a flotilla carrying aid in defiance of a blockade of Gaza. The commandos clashed with some of those on board, and the raid ended with nine people dead.

Moulitsas said, "I mean, the fact is whether Israel had the right to do what it did or not, they handled it so poorly that they basically alienated much of the world. They alienated an important Arab ally in Turkey, and they put the United States in a really difficult position."

After the show, Moulitsas sent this Twitter post: "I got one for PolitiFact — I slipped and called Turkey an 'Arab' country. I knew it as I said it. I meant 'Muslim.' "

Amy Hawthorne, a specialist in Middle East and Arab affairs at the Hollings Center for International Dialogue, confirmed his correction. "Arabs and Turks are distinct peoples, separated by language, ethnicity and geography," she said.

In Turkey, the predominant language is Turkish, while in Arab countries, the main language is Arabic.

The Arab League has 22 members, and Turkey is not among them. And between 70 percent and 75 percent of Turkey's population is ethnically Turkish, with 18 percent Kurdish and the remainder smaller minorities (including a modest number of Arabs).

Turkey does have religion in common with the Arab world. An estimated 99.8 percent of the Turkish population is Muslim.

"I knew I was wrong as I was saying it," Moulitsas told PolitiFact in an e-mail. But the pace of the show was so fast he had no opportunity to correct himself.

Moulitsas has graciously copped to his error, but the Truth-O-Meter doesn't cut any slack for confessions. So we rate his statement False.

This ruling has been edited for print. For more, see PolitiFact.com.

PolitiFact: Turks, Arabs share religion, but Turks aren't Arabs 06/09/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 9:09pm]
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