“Turkey is debt free” says Hamza Yusuf. Really?

I was sent the above video today. It features the well known Muslim speaker Hamza Yusuf speaking at a meeting of the Islamic Society of North America back in 2013 where he made the following remarks:

“The reality of Turkey is that Turkey has only recently paid off completely their IMF debt. Turkey is one of the only debt free countries on this planet. And why isn’t that on the news?”

I have heard similar claims from a number of other people, but are they true? Well, this article from 2013, from the Turkish publication, Hurriyet, backs up part of the claim. It confirms that Turkey did indeed pay off its debt to the IMF in 2013. However, it also points out that the IMF debt was only a very small portion of Turkey’s external debt. As of 2013, Turkey’s total foreign debt stood at 340 billion dollars, 43% of its national income.

And that debt has only gotten worse since 2013. Turkey’s own Finance Ministry now puts Turkey’s external debt in 2017 at 49.1% of its national income.

The lesson? As the motto of the UK’s leading scientific academy, the Royal Society, says: “Nullius in verba” – Take No One’s Word For It. Even if that someone is as famous as Hamza Yusuf. Study for yourself.

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One Response to “Turkey is debt free” says Hamza Yusuf. Really?

  1. He has said imf debt, not all forms of debt. It’s impossible to eradicate all debt since external debt includes receipts for goods for trade, the issuing of bonds, deals between governments on things like defence etc.

    No matter how wealthy a country is, it’ll always have debt. UK and USA have debt far higher than 50% of GDP, they are in fact the two most indebted countries in the world.

    Nothing wrong with what Hamza said here since he clearly specified imf debt, and the imf is not an organisation you want to be in debt to

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