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During the June 6, 2010, edition of ABC's This Week, Markos Moulitsas, who publishes the liberal blog Daily Kos, joined a roundtable discussion that touched on Israel's decision earlier this month to send commandos to board a flotilla carrying aid and activists in defiance of an Israeli 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."
Shortly after the show ended, Moulitsas sent this Twitter message: "I got one for PolitiFact -- I slipped and called Turkey an 'Arab' country. I knew it as I said it. I meant 'Muslim.'"
His Twitter correction was right: Turkey is not an Arab country.
"Arabs and Turks are distinct peoples, separated by language, ethnicity, and geography. Although Turkey is adjacent to the Middle East, it is not generally considered part of that region," said Amy Hawthorne, executive director of the Hollings Center for International Dialogue. The Hollings Center operates in both Washington, D.C., and Turkey, and Hawthorne is a trained specialist in Middle East and Arab affairs.
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).
The one thing that Turkey has in common with the Arab world is religion: 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 everything moves so fast that everything had moved on before I could say, 'Boy that was dumb -- I meant 'predominantly Muslim country.'"
Moulitsas has graciously copped to his error (and even invited us to ding him), but the Truth-O-Meter doesn't cut any slack for confessions. So we rate his statement False.
Markos Moulitsas, comments during a roundtable on ABC's This Week, June 6, 2010
CIA World Factbook, chapter on Turkey, accessed June 6, 2010
Markos Moulitsas, tweet, June 6, 2010
al-bab.com, web page on the League of Arab States, accessed June 6, 2010
Interview with Amy Hawthorne, executive director Hollings Center for International Dialogue, June 6, 2010
E-mail interview with Markos Moulitsas, publisher and founder of Daily Kos, June 6, 2010
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