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Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

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  • Who is insulting Turkey? Intellectuals or 'lovers of Turkey'?
    Thursday, May 24, 2007


    ORHAN KEMAL CENGIZ

    Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code on �denigrating Turkishness� has become the most famous—or should one say notorious—legal celebrity worldwide. At Hirant Dink`s funeral, some participants were carrying placards saying �the killer 301,� making a reference to the court case that had been brought against the slain journalist under this article.

    Not only Hirant Dink, but also many other intellectuals, journalists and writers in Turkey have gone, and are still going, through the same painful process. Criminal cases have been brought against them under this article and simultaneously, threats against their lives and the lives of their loved ones have started to reach their computers, mobile phones and sometimes their voice mail accounts.

    When these �victims� of 301 came to courtrooms to attend their hearings, they were almost certain that an angry mob, chanting slogans against them and carrying banners declaring them traitors, would be waiting for them in front of the courthouse.

    Some statesmen and political figures protested the �killer 301� placards carried in the funeral. A law, an article could not be blamed for a murder, according to these circles. However, almost everyone who has been tried under article 301 of Turkish Penal Code has a bodyguard now, appointed by the Security Directorate, to protect them closely, 24 hours, seven days a week. So the question of �Who is denigrating `Turkishness`? � becomes more complex at this juncture. Is it these intellectuals expressing their non-violent ideas to make this country freer and more self-confident, or is it those who condemned these thinking human beings to needing bodyguards to walk safely in the streets? Who is insulting Turkey?

    In Turkey, some circles claim a monopoly over �loving� this country. The rest must love this country in the same way they do. The first rule of this �love� is that you must not question the official ideology, especially the official view of history. The second rule is that you must deny differences between people living in this country. This �love� culminates in demanding those who �do not love� this country should either �learn� to love it they way they do -- or leave. Is this love really? The guidelines for such a �bitter love� have yet to be discovered.

    Do you know what is going on in Turkey now? There are still a lot of cases under article 301, very fresh ones. However, people are so afraid that they do not even invite their friends and supporters to their trials, fearing that the press first and then the �lovers of Turkey�, the �protectors of Turkishness,� may become aware of their cases and they could become the new targets! Whose shame is this?

    I opened my previous article with Elif Safak's remarks and I would like to conclude this one with her magnificent statement: �One should love this country so much as to be able to criticize it. Some think that if one criticizes this country, it is an indication that they do not love it. Can this be true? On the contrary, I criticize it because I love it, I find it very significant and I cannot bear it to stay wounded.�

    I love this country and its people very much in exactly the same way Elif Safak loves it! Q & A

    What does article 301 say?

    "1. Public denigration of Turkishness, the Republic, or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, shall be punishable by imprisonment between six months and three years.

    2. Public denigration of the Government of the Republic of Turkey, the judicial institutions of the State, the military or security structures shall be punishable by imprisonment between six months and two years.

    What is wrong with it?

    As Amnesty International says:

    The permissible restrictions on the right to freedom of expression in the international human rights law are to be strictly construed. Accordingly, any restriction on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression must be prescribed by law. To qualify as a measure "prescribed by law," any legal provision restricting the exercise of the right to freedom of expression must be "accessible and unambiguous," narrowly drawn and precise enough so that individuals subject to the law can foresee whether a particular action is unlawful.

    Article 301 does not meet the requirement of being "accessible and unambiguous," but rather its wide and vague terms mean that it may be applied arbitrarily to criminalize a wide range of peacefully expressed dissenting opinions.

    In short, Turkey should get rid of this article as soon as possible.

    Comment


    • I love this commentary below. Why? Because the author is so angry, hypocritical, and blatantly ignorant. He is my candidate to win the "the 2007 Gunduz Aktan Award for Paranoia and Journalistic Excellence"

      http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/a...?enewsid=74288

      Unbearable arrogance of the EU

      Monday, May 28, 2007



      Ali KÜLEB?

      As they seemed to forget their comments about Turkey's membership to the EU, European politicians with an imperialistic arrogance about our domestic politics have recently told Turkey to wait fifty more years; that is after having kept Turkey waiting at the EU door for more than forty-five years.

      In its five years in power, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has followed a strategy that surrenders Turkey to the EU's arrogance and uses the EU for its own interest.

      However, since the EU demands on the headscarf issue were not met, and its efforts to making our Armed Forces passive went down the drain, the AKP's ambition about the EU has faded away. Now the AKP seems to not even mention its name. On the other hand when one examines the EU's latest arrogant comments, it appears that the EU has not lost its interest in the AKP.

      Therefore, it is not surprising how the EU has such courage to interfere in Turkey's domestic politics too. With an attitude of ‘plus royaliste que le roi', European politicians clearly acted like a counsel for the AKP against the recent General Staff's statement, but they have not realized that they stretched their power while interfering our domestic affairs.

      As an apostle of democracy, the EU seems to forget its own democratic illusion. In the past, the EU had opposed the election of racist Jörg Haider, the leader of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), as prime minister. Therefore it had Haider removed from office although Austria was a full member of the EU. Beyond this example of how the EU is “respectful” of democracy, one must remember the Netherlands that pressured three Turkish parliamentarians to give up their denial of “So-called Armenian Massacre”, and an EU that outlawed speaking Turkish in many regions These should be kept in mind when thinking of the EU as an apostle of democracy.

      It is time to say stop European injustice and the arrogant European double standard with its old imperialistic traditions. With the mentality “I decide everything and everything belongs to me,” the EU seems to not be satisfied with its economic benefits, which have resulted from its outbidding policy of full membership. By making Turkey obey harsh conditions of the Customs Union, Turkey became the fifth largest market of the EU ahead of Japan, Korea and India, while politically it seems to not be satisfied with claims to break Turkey and its impositions. This dissatisfaction and such arrogant behaviors make us ask Olli Rehn first and foremost and then the other European authorities “What gives you the right to speak about our Armed Forces while abusing our EU membership?”

      The arrogance of the EU: Taking without giving:

      The EU kept the prospect of Turkish membership warm because it needed Turkey during the Cold War period; thereafter it coined some exercises purporting unfair competition against Turkey, which are not in accordance with the association partnership. Although we had entered the Customs Union with huge altruism in the post- Cold War period and changed our laws which in return created some inconceivable problems and bureaucratic challenges hazardously threatening our internal and external security, running a business freely in Europe especially for Turkish businesspersons is getting complicated by the day. The insincere EU raises new bureaucratic problems instead of lessening them in accordance with the Association Partnership and applies new conditions that are not applied to even non-candidate North African countries.

      Our businesspersons are faced with the same but more severe problems than those of our citizens, which certainly proves the insincerity of the EU members. Their businesspersons and companies are supremely free to enter contracts and do business in Turkey whereas our businesspersons cannot do the same in their countries and even have huge problems when trying to get visas. This in return deepens unfair competition.

      The United States, so sensitive on visa and immigration policies, issues five to ten-year visas for our businesspersons whereas EU countries have a sarcastic attitude with an imperialist arrogance on the visa issue. Our businesspersons who apply for visas are subjected to a long bureaucracy in each application and, inconceivably they are mostly issued weekly and single-entry visas. In fact, this problem can be brought in front of the European Court of Human Rights since we have rights derived from the Customs Union Agreement.

      Nonetheless, our businesspersons are subjected to this unbearable arrogance while their applications are mostly rejected only because they lack some unimportant documents. The tragic-comic visa application preventing Turkish businesspersons from making business deals in Europe can easily be proved with the documents required to get visas:

      First, the Schengen visa can only be applied after getting an appointment date via telephone. The applications (subject to payment) can be asked from the company charged with duty by Embassies. The fee for an application is YTL 18, and the PIN number issued can be used only once. When you do not understand something while on the telephone, there is no way to replay the recording. Moreover, the visa appointment is generally given for four to five days later at the earliest. If a Turk applies for a business visa, almost fifteen documents are required. It does not end here. In addition to the documents mentioned above, some other documents such as A/T 11 are required in the event that the applicant works for a private company.

      The Europeans, who interfere with our domestic politics under the pretense of our Armed Forces and want Ataturk's pictures to be taken off from walls, tell us “We can do what we want”. Based on such contradictory logic, the EU has practices that make trade even harder. The latest example is that the visa fee has been raised from 35 euros to 60 euros. This in fact is in contradiction with the principles of our so-called association partnership.

      Last year among the 7.5 million Schengen visas issued, only 224 thousand were issued to Turkish citizens, which is unacceptable for a candidate country of 75 million people. This fact cannot be acceptable for Turkey and it is shameful for the imperialist, double-standard-setting EU. Since 1999 when Turkey was granted candidate status, the EU has made visa application and customs laws more difficult instead of easier. In search of making their jobs freely, our businesspersons are required to have a letter of invitation, which makes visa applications more complicated. Some EU countries like the Netherlands are only open for visa applications between 8:45 - 9:15 a.m. at their consulates.

      There should also be an urgent solution to the problems of changes in visa issuance for professional drivers for the international transportation and application of quota for landing order so as to give an end to this unfair competition. If this does not work, we must bring the issue to the Association Council to re-establish our rights derived from the GATT agreement.

      Most of the Schengen countries reduced the 90-day visa period to 45 days for Turkish TIR drivers due to their hypocritical immigration policy. The reason behind the EU's recent changes seems to be that it has been trying to protect its own TIR operators against Turkish TIR fleet, which has overwhelmingly had an important role in transportation in EU countries.

      Even though Turkey is not a full EU member, our goods have been in free movement since the Customs Union agreement went into force in 1996. However, Turkish businesspersons, who want to sell or buy goods that are already in free movement, do not have the right of free movement, and are subjected to visa challenges. Although the volume of export to the EU is expected to double in five years, Turkish export to Europe is being prevented with the problematic visa applications contrary to the expectation that bureaucratic problems are to be relaxed.



      Opposing unfairness:

      It is time to say stop to the discriminatory visa application against Turkey, which cannot be acceptable under the terms of Association Agreement and scrutinize the relations with the EU, if necessary. They need to impose a series of measures including visa challenges for European businesspersons and some serious sanctions against unfair competition. This befits a self-respecting and big country. Such a move becomes true if only a nationalist government with such capability and belief appears in self-respecting and big countries. It is time to end our existing complex, worry and depression and raise the stakes with arrogant Europeans.
      General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”

      Comment


      • Economist.com
        http://www.economist.co.uk/daily/diary/displaystory.cfm?story_id'46145

        The white cap of hatred

        Jun 1st 2007

        Our Europe editor glimpses a nasty nationalism

        Friday

        BACK in Kars, we have dinner with the mayor, Naif Alibeyoglu. He is an
        AK Party man, and a progressive fan of modern sculpture, examples of
        which unexpectedly adorn bits of his city. The food and wine, as
        always, even in far-flung parts of Turkey, are superb. Mr Alibeyoglu
        is an optimist on the subject of improving ties with Armenia. He would
        like to reopen the border, he wants to encourage Armenian tourists and
        he invites Armenians to come, even if by roundabout routes, to his
        local art and music festivals.

        But he has plenty of enemies: Azerbaijan, for one, which fought a
        ruinous war against Armenia in the early 1990s. Perhaps one-third of
        Kars's population is Azeri (the languages are both Turkic). The local
        Azerbaijani consul-general is a positive fomenter of dissent with the
        Armenians. But there are also plenty of Turkish nationalists to deal
        with.

        I go to see one of them, the local boss of the far-right MHP Party,
        who says he expects to do well in the election in July. Surrounded by
        a villainous-looking group of thugs, he puts forward several
        hair-raising policies, including the early invasion of northern Iraq
        and the execution of the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan. He is
        against normalisation of relations with Armenia until and unless
        Armenians stop calling this part of Turkey "western Armenia" and drop
        their "absurd" demands for an acknowledgment of Armenian genocide by
        the Ottoman Turks in 1915.

        Nationalism in Turkey is, in a sense, the downside of Ataturkism. The
        great man was a patriot above all else. But in the process of forging
        a modern Turkey, he and his successors have lost the easygoing Ottoman
        tolerance of a multicultural empire. This is not just a problem for
        Kurds and Armenians. The Alevis, an Islamic sect, also feel
        persecuted. It is dismayingly hard to open a Christian church
        anywhere, despite Anatolia's long Christian heritage. And the
        beleaguered Greek community of Istanbul, the seat of the Orthodox
        Patriarch and of the (closed) Halki Greek Orthodox seminary, are under
        pressure as never before.

        Trabzon the tarnished jewel

        Walking through Kars, I stumble across a sad example of the new
        nationalism. Three boys are playing football outside a former Armenian
        church. One, hardly 12 years old, sports the white cap that was
        supposedly worn by the young assassin of Hrant Dink, an ethnic
        Armenian newspaper editor shot dead in Istanbul. The assassin seems to
        have come from Trabzon, north of Kars, now a hotbed of Turkish
        nationalism. Ironically it was, as Trebizond, once a jewel of Greek
        Orthodox and Jewish culture. We remonstrate with the boy about wearing
        such provocative headgear outside an Armenian church - but his response
        is merely to kick the church wall.

        As we head back to Erzurum in search of some of the city's obsidian
        necklaces and worry-beads, I brood again on Turkey's fractious
        politics. The heavy-handed military intervention in defence of
        secularism and the rejection of the AK Party's candidate for the
        Turkish presidency have inflamed passions ahead of the election in
        late July. It looks as if the AK Party will win, and Recep Tayyip
        Erdogan will continue as prime minister. But Turkey's angry
        nationalism and the bitterness unleashed before the election will play
        into the hands of those in the European Union, including the new
        French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who are against its EU membership.
        Turkish and European Union leaders have much fence-mending ahead of
        them.

        Thursday

        TO LEAVE Istanbul and Ankara and head east is to visit another
        country. In the towns and villages around Diyarbakir, in the Kurdish
        south-east, one can still find a grinding rural poverty that would be
        unimaginable in the sophisticated west of Turkey. In the north-east,
        in Erzurum and Kars, where I now go, the poverty may be slightly less
        grinding, but the sense of being on a frontier is if anything even
        stronger - as is a renewed and unattractive spirit of Turkish
        nationalism.

        Erzurum is the sinister backcloth to John Buchan's "Greenmantle", set
        in the first world war. This was then a key playground in the great
        game with the Russians, who had long occupied a chunk of what is now
        north-eastern Turkey. At least they left intact the city's wonderful
        madrassas (religious seminaries), though in accordance with Ataturk's
        precepts these are today all secular museums. Farther east, in Kars,
        most of the grey stone buildings, including the city's best hotel,
        were actually built by the Russians. Kars is also the setting of Orhan
        Pamuk's novel "Snow".

        Appropriately enough, even in May the mountains around the city are
        still topped by snow. This is a high-altitude place, in the foothills
        of the Caucasus and quite near the biblical Mount Ararat. On a chilly
        afternoon we head east out of Kars and towards Armenia. Our goal is
        not that country, however, for the land border is still firmly closed.
        It is Ani, one of the world's great historical and architectural gems.

        As capital of Armenia in the tenth century and a great trading station
        on the old silk road to China, Ani once vied with Byzantium as a place
        of wealth and of Christian observance. It is located on a plateau high
        above the River Arpa that divides Armenia from Turkey - but it is firmly
        on the Turkish side. Given the testy relations between the two
        countries, and a revival of nationalist feeling in Turkey, it is not
        surprising that the Turks should have somewhat neglected the place,
        which is entirely deserted as we wander around (save for a couple of
        glum-looking soldiers who come from the old fort that looks across
        into Armenia).

        Noah's old neighbourhood

        At least, some restoration has been done here in recent years. There
        are four or five early medieval churches, one of which later became
        the first mosque in Anatolia, most of them complete with some superb
        frescoes. They would create a sensation if they were transplanted
        lock, stock and barrel to western Europe. But here they are xxxxxed
        over by the resident sheep and goats, and very little else. There is
        no hotel, restaurant, bar or guide anywhere in sight. The atmosphere
        is all the more haunting as a result. My advice is to go to Ani, or,
        if you cannot, at least visit its excellent website, before the
        world's tourists discover and ruin it.

        As an antidote after such high-blown culture, we decide on returning
        to Kars to visit a well-known local truckstop and bar. The chief
        attraction of the place is not the food and drink, however: it is the
        Azeri prostitutes who lounge around one of the tables, being gawped at
        by the almost entirely male clientele. Occasionally one of them
        wanders around the bar singing and inviting customers to stuff
        banknotes into her skimpy top. But the beer is expensive, and the
        ladies are scarcely more beguiling than their intended clients. At
        least I can put the excursion down to experience - and, with luck,
        charge the tab to expenses.

        Wednesday

        ON TO Ankara, Turkey's unattractive capital. A small village when
        Ataturk picked it as the new capital, it is now a dusty metropolis of
        more than three million residents. It has a shiny new out-of-town
        airport, but still no direct flights to London, Paris or the United
        States.

        Ankara is suffering an outbreak of political fever as the election in
        July approaches. The area around the Turkish parliament is thick with
        television crews; inside deputies were recently engaged in fisticuffs.
        A pro-secular politician wanders over to promise that the ruling AK
        Party is "finished" and that voters will rally to the opposition.

        I wonder. Opinion polls give AK and its charismatic prime minister,
        Recep Tayyip Erdogan, around 40% of the vote, up from 34% in 2002
        (when the party won a huge parliamentary majority because only one
        opposition party crossed the 10% threshold).

        One reason voters may back Mr Erdogan is that he has given them five
        exceptionally successful years. Before 2002, when the country was run
        by varying coalitions of secular parties, it lurched from one crisis
        to another, with inflation roaring, banks going bust and frequent
        recourse to the IMF.

        The ground for Turkey's recovery was laid by Kemal Dervis, finance
        minister in 2001; but the AK Party stuck to his course, tamed
        inflation, restored growth and won the prize of accession talks with
        the European Union. However much they dislike Mr Erdogan's Islamist
        leanings, even fierce secularists concede that his economic and
        political record is impressive.

        Their secularism is best sensed by visiting Ataturk's mausoleum high
        above the city (pictured, left). Here you find not just the great
        man's coffin and a museum about his life, but such other memorabilia
        as his cars, his cigarettes and even three of his chickpeas. A film
        records how Ataturk saved the nation, and then personally educated and
        modernised it. The atmosphere is almost religious in fervour: to coin
        an oxymoron, it is a place of secular religion.

        It is plain that modern Turkey owes a lot to Ataturk. Without him it
        might have been summarily chopped up into pieces by the allies in
        1918-19. Yet there is something creepy about the reverence that he is
        now accorded. It is an offence to insult his memory in even the most
        trivial way. And it is thanks to him that the army is treated as an
        oracle by secularists - and by much of public opinion.

        Yet Turkey's military is no great respecter of human rights - nor of
        democracy, for that matter. Besides waging a long and brutal war
        against Kurdish rebels, its habitual response to critics has been to
        try to silence them.

        For many years the generals backed Turkey's aspirations to join the
        EU, because they saw this as the ultimate fulfilment of Ataturk's
        dreams. Now, however, some seem to be having second thoughts. The EU
        has a pesky way of insisting on freedom of speech and religion, on
        human rights - and on subordinating the army to civilian authorities.

        As it happens, the talk in Ankara is that Turkey's EU ambitions may
        come to nought because of rising opposition from the French, Austrians
        and Germans. But there is here another paradox about Ataturkism. The
        army considers itself the guardian of Ataturk's legacy. But if Turkey
        is to achieve true modernisation by getting into the EU, the military
        must lose its special status. And that is also why, despite the
        secularists' arguments, I conclude that another AK victory will,
        ultimately, be the right result.

        Tuesday

        NOBODY should visit Istanbul without going to the Topkapi palace and
        Aya Sofia, both now museums. The Topkapi houses a fabulous collection
        of rugs, weapons, jewels, pottery and mosaics accumulated by sultans
        over the centuries. But almost as big an appeal is its setting: grassy
        courtyards, fountains and cool flowerbeds all set high above the
        Bosporus. You can while away hours watching the boats, tankers and
        ferries scurrying across the busy waters of Istanbul's harbour.

        What really pulls in the tourists is something else: the Topkapi's
        famous harem, which was opened to the public only in 1960. Yet though
        it sounds salacious, in reality it simply houses the private quarters
        of the sultans, including several of the finest rooms in the entire
        palace. Because it imposes an extra charge and does not admit guided
        tours, the harem is also mercifully quieter than the rest of the
        museum - and than Aya Sofia outside.

        Sadly, Aya Sofia (pictured below) is disfigured by internal
        scaffolding, but the immense scale of the basilica, built by Justinian
        between 532 and 537 AD, is staggering. It was turned into a mosque on
        the day that Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453. It is fitting,
        given today's arguments over his secular legacy, that it was Ataturk
        who turned it into a museum in 1935. Besides the mosaics on the first
        floor, I am intrigued to stumble across a memorial to Enrico Dandolo,
        the blind 90-year-old Doge of Venice who led the appalling 1204 Fourth
        Crusade - in the course of which, instead of going to Jerusalem, the
        crusaders sacked Constantinople, paving the way for the fall of the
        city to the Turks.

        That is enough history, I reflect, as I wander off to meet Norman
        Stone, an eminent British historian who decamped from Oxford to Turkey
        a decade ago, basing himself first at Bilkent University in Ankara,
        and now at Koc University in Istanbul. He complains about the traffic
        and says that he might return to Ankara if a high-speed train link is
        built with Istanbul. We talk about the political situation in Turkey.
        But I swiftly find that it is impossible to escape the burden of
        history. For one of Mr Stone's bugbears is the Armenian "genocide" of
        1915.

        He shares the mainstream view of many Turks: it happened at a messy
        time during the first world war; some Armenians were fighting (with
        the Russians) against Ottoman forces; a decision was taken by the
        Ottoman government to deport them; a large number of Armenians died.
        But he insists that this did not amount to genocide. Other historians
        disagree. They have found archived plans laid by the Young Turks in
        Constantinople that had the explicit aim of killing Turkey's ethnic
        Armenians.

        I cannot judge the truth, but I note one peculiarity with regret.
        Inside Turkey, it is an offence to talk about the mass-slaughter of
        the Armenians. A number of writers have been prosecuted. An ethnic
        Armenian newspaper editor, Hrant Dink, was gunned down recently on his
        own doorstep in Istanbul. Elsewhere, it can be an offence to deny that
        this was a genocide. The French National Assembly recently passed a
        bill to this effect, and there is one before the American Congress.
        With laws like these flying around, whatever happened to free speech
        and the disinterested unearthing of historical truth?

        Monday

        BY ANY measure Istanbul is a world-class historical city. As first
        Byzantium and later Constantinople, it was capital of a Roman Empire
        that lasted longer in the east than in the west. It became the Sublime
        Porte, capital of the Ottoman Empire and seat of the Islamic
        caliphate. Coming into the city from Ataturk airport, you pass right
        through the thick walls of Constantine (which kept Ottoman besiegers
        at bay until 1453) before emerging into a forest of minarets perched
        spectacularly above a blue sea.

        Yet this is no dead town from the past. Istanbul now has over 10m
        people, making it Europe's biggest and fastest-growing city (in 1950
        it had only about a million). The noise, the traffic, the streets
        crowding down to the Bosporus and the Golden Horn are overwhelmingly
        busy. There is little sign of the political crisis that threatens to
        engulf Turkey, and provokes my visit.

        This crisis is over the secular inheritance of Ataturk, father of
        modern Turkey, who abolished the Ottoman sultanate and the caliphate
        in the 1920s, and moved the capital to Ankara. Turks revere Ataturk,
        whose secular legacy is jealously guarded by the army. A month ago the
        army put out a statement criticising the government's choice of
        Abdullah Gul, the foreign minister, as candidate for the Turkish
        presidency, and implicitly threatening a military coup.

        The army has always disliked the AK Party government, led by Recep
        Tayyip Erdogan, for its Islamist roots. Mr Gul's particular offence is
        to have a wife who wears the Muslim headscarf, which is banned in
        public buildings.The details of the subsequent in-fighting and court
        cases are too boring to discuss, but the upshot is that no president
        has been chosen and Turkey is preparing for a general election in late
        July.

        It seems likely that the AK Party will win again, though perhaps not
        with the same big majority that it won in 2002. The party may again
        try to install a mild Islamist as president. So the threat of a
        military intervention still hangs over Turkey, which has a long
        history of coups.

        You might expect that the worldly elite of Istanbul would deplore such
        heavy-handed military threats and firmly back democracy. But that is
        not the opinion of most of the journalists, former diplomats and
        bankers who gather at a splendid dinner party hosted by colleague here
        in her apartment in the city's Galata district. On the contrary, they
        are overtly sympathetic to the army, concerned to preserve secularism
        in Turkey, and suspicious that the AK Party has a hidden Islamist
        agenda to turn their country into a new Iran.

        In an era of creeping fundamentalism throughout the Muslim world, such
        concerns are understandable. Yet to a Westerner from Europe the notion
        that a military coup might be preferable to a woman's sporting a
        headscarf in the presidential palace in Ankara seems bizarre. The
        truth is that, in Turkey, secularism has turned into another form of
        fundamentalism that trumps other values, including democracy and the
        country's prospects of joining the European Union.

        Here prosperity and urbanisation play a part. Behind these arguments
        lies a class issue. What the elite really objects to is the influx of
        scarf-wearing Anatolian Muslim peasants that has swelled the
        population of Istanbul and other cities. Yet, as in many other
        countries, this is something they will just have to learn to live
        with.
        General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Gavur View Post
          They need to change this culture of violence
          Any Turks like tell me how are they proposing to this?
          Because it looks like the fish is stinking from the head.


          Turkish Mayor Halil Bakirci: "If I would've realized who they were, I would've also lynched th



          NEWSDESK, Nov 5 (DozaMe.org) - A group from the 'Solidarity With Prisoner Families Association' (TAYAD) visiting the grave of a leftist prisoner who died in a death hunger strike protesting the implementation of F-type Isolation Prisons, were attacked by 300 Turkish ultra-nationalist in the city of Rize in northern Turkey.

          Rize's Mayor Halil Bakirci of the ruling party AKP gave his support to the ultra-nationalists, saying that he would also have joined the lynching if he had realized that the ones being beaten were TAYAD members.

          Bakirci's statement in verbatim:

          "I saw that some people were arguing when I looked out the window of the City Hall. I later found out that the TAYAD members had tried to flash some banners. If I would've realized who they were, I would've also lynched them. No one has the right to surge our people's patience. Our people gave them the necessary answer. They won't dare to come here again. If they come again, things will be much different. They will not escape as easily as this time", Rize's Mayor threatened.

          Another politician praising the ultra-nationalists was Rize's MP to the Turkish parliament, Abdulkadir Kart of the AKP party.

          "We know what they are trying to do. There are no F-type prisons in Rize or Trabzon. No one has the right to come here and disturb our people. The Black Sea people, who are loyal to its state and nation, gave them the proper lesson. They will not dare to come here again", Kart said.
          Can Turkey be taught tolerance?
          Answer: No.
          General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Joseph View Post
            Can Turkey be taught tolerance?
            Answer: No.
            Answer: Still, no.
            General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”

            Comment


            • Turkey's Christians like AKP despite Islamist past
              Thursday, June 21, 2007

              Turkey's Christians like AKP despite Islamist past

              Gareth Jones
              VAKIFLI – REUTERS

              Its foes like to accuse Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of plotting to create an Iranian-style Islamic state, but many among the country's Christian minority seem to prefer the alleged Islamists to more secular parties.

              In sleepy Vakıflı, Turkey's last surviving ethnic Armenian village, perched high among orange groves overlooking the east Mediterranean, elderly farmers say they will probably vote for the Islamist-rooted AKP in July 22 elections.

              "This government has done a lot for us. We want them to get back in. They show us and our religion respect. Every religion is holy," said Hanna Bebek, 76, enjoying a game of cards with his neighbors in the village tea house.

              "The AKP has tried to help the minorities, while other parties just talk," said village headman Berç Kartun, 45.

              Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim but hosts several ancient Christian communities -- dwindling remnants of sizeable populations that prospered for centuries in the Muslim-led but multi-ethnic, multi-faith Ottoman Empire.

              Modern Turkey was founded on the empire's ashes in 1923.

              Those communities include some 70,000 Armenians and 20,000 Greek Orthodox -- mostly based in Istanbul -- and 20,000 Syriac Christians, who speak a form of Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

              Turkey's Christians have often voted in the past for secular parties such as the center-left Republican People's Party (CHP), analysts say. But the CHP has joined a rising tide of Turkish nationalism, making Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP a more attractive option.

              Vakiflı is located in Hatay province, which once belonged to nearby Syria and boasts a long tradition of religious tolerance. Its provincial capital Antakya is the ancient Antioch, where Saints Peter and Paul preached shortly after Jesus's death.

              Vakıflı itself, with a population of 100 mostly elderly people living off organic farming, is virtually all that remains of eastern Turkey's once large, prosperous Armenian community.



              Nationalism:

              Patriarch Mesrob II, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of Turkey's Armenians, recently endorsed Erdoğan's party.

              "The AKP is more moderate and less nationalistic in its dealings with minorities. The Erdoğan government listens to us -- we will vote for the AKP in the next elections," Mesrob told the German magazine Der Spiegel in an interview.

              Though a pious Muslim whose wife wears the Islamic headscarf, Erdoğan strongly rejects the Islamist label.

              In power since 2002, his AKP has pursued liberal economic and political reforms, including more rights for religious minorities, as required by the European Union which Turkey hopes to join. Ankara began EU entry talks in 2005.

              But Erdoğan's record is far from perfect, analysts say.

              "The AKP is 100 times more liberal than the other parties... They deserve a bit of credit, but not too much," said Baskın Oran, a political analyst and human rights campaigner.

              Oran is the author of a 2004 report on Turkey's minorities, commissioned by Erdoğan's office, which was quietly binned after a furious nationalist reaction that highlighted the continued sensitivity of the minorities issue in Turkey.

              "The nationalist pressure scared the hell out of the government and they caved in," said Oran.

              Oran himself could draw religious minority votes away from the AK Party in Istanbul, where he is standing as an independent candidate on a liberal platform.

              Turkish nationalists, who are expected to perform well in July's elections, are especially sensitive to claims -- pressed by many in the EU and beyond -- that as many as 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey suffered genocide at Ottoman hands in 1915.

              Ankara's official line is that large numbers of both Muslim Turks and Christian Armenians died in ethnic conflict as the Ottoman Empire staggered towards collapse during World War One.

              Nationalists are also highly suspicious of Turkey's ethnic Greeks and their spiritual leader, Patriarch Bartholomew, whom they accuse of wanting to set up a Vatican-style mini-state in Istanbul. Bartholomew rejects their accusation as absurd.

              As elections loom, the AK Party does not want to be branded by the nationalists as kow-towing to powerful Armenian or Greek diaspora lobbies in Europe and America. Many Turks believe these lobbies are bent on avenging past wrongs suffered by their kin.



              Murder:

              Oran said Ankara's reform zeal had long since cooled. For example, it shelved a law intended to ease property restrictions on Christian minorities. It has also failed to re-open an Orthodox seminary near Istanbul deemed vital for the long-term survival of Greek Orthodoxy in Turkey.

              More tragically, the authorities failed to stem a virulent form of nationalism that claimed the life in January of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Dink was shot dead by an ultra-nationalist outside his office in Istanbul, triggering a huge outpouring of grief and solidarity from ordinary Turks.

              The Dink murder still hangs heavy on Turkey's Armenians.

              "Many Armenians wanted to leave this country (after the murder) ... but it is not easy to leave the place where you and your parents were born," said Aris Nalcı, news editor of Agos, Dink's weekly Armenian newspaper.

              The Vakıflı farmers said many Turks came from towns hundreds of kilometers away to pay their respects at their newly restored village church after Dink was murdered. "All forms of extreme nationalism are bad," said Kartun. "But here in Hatay province, at least, we still live together in peace -- Turks, Arabs and Armenians, Muslims and Christians."

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Joseph View Post
                Answer: Still, no.
                Perhaps in 200 years...
                General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”

                Comment


                • Originally posted by steph View Post
                  Turkey's Christians like AKP despite Islamist past
                  Thursday, June 21, 2007


                  Modern Turkey was founded on the empire's ashes in 1923.


                  Whose ashes?

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Joseph View Post
                    Perhaps in 200 years...
                    Not in 2,000.

                    Comment


                    • I've highlighted some good points.


                      http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/a...?enewsid=76141


                      Kunta Kinte, 'Armenian Seed', the Denial of Racism!
                      Friday, June 22, 2007
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                      Orhan Kemal Cengiz
                      ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News


                      If you asked a man in the street in Turkey what racism means, you would probably receive a vague answer and some random examples rather than a conceptual definition. These examples most probably would refer to other countries, like the United States and European countries, but not Turkey at all!

                      For us, racism is what the white man did to the black man. Racism is just an image for us haunting our memories from the film “Roots”. It is the picture of the white man who was whipping a black guy: “Say your name nigger”, “My name is Kunta Kinte”, “Your name is Toby boy”, until at last, after hours of lashing, Kunta Kinte gives in and says “my name is Toby sir!” This is the only form of racism we know.

                      I have never come across any Turkish person who considers himself a racist. However, racist remarks are just flying in the air in the daily conversations in this country. Our language is full of racist remarks. For example, Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, is called an “Armenian seed” (Ermeni Dölü). If you consider how much Öcalan is hated in this country then you can imagine how “flattering” being an “Armenian seed” may be. “Jews are cowards!” “Arabs are back stabbing people”! Not to mention very offensive vocabulary about the Roma people!

                      I observe that Turkish people who use racist remarks either as a part of their ultranationalist identity or inadvertently, as a part of their protest against the “games of Imperialist” powers in this country, also have a strong sense of being a victim. They are Kunta Kintes, not the white guy who has the whip in his hand! All this anger and hate arises from this feeling of being the victim – a victim of imperialism, a victim of conspiracies! Where does this distorted identity come from? We have never been colonized, never been captured, none of the Turkish states formed on this territory have been broken up by foreign forces ever! On the contrary, the Ottoman Empire once was the most powerful and feared political entity on the planet!

                      I do not want to explain at length or analyze the Turkish identity (not in this article at least) but would like to say that being the victim is so deeply rooted in our identities that we cannot consider ourselves as violators. For example, most Turks think we were stabbed in the back by the Greeks, Bulgarians, Romanians and others who declared their independence from the Ottoman Empire. It is very strange, is not it, that a nation that puts so much emphasis on its own independence is so angry with the Ottoman Empire's ex-subjects for their separation from the Empire and for their declarations of independence.
                      I believe this feeling of ‘being a victim' serves as a kind of block in our collective unconscious. It is a way of turning upside down some historical facts in this country. It is a way of not confronting what had happened to non-Muslim citizens of this country. “I am the victim, not the Armenian, or Greek, or Jew!” Today we still have this feeling and it is getting stronger. We are again the victims of the Western powers' conspiracies against us! We are the Kunta Kintes of the modern times, surrounded by enemies and about to be victimized again by the white man! Are we really!?
                      Q&A How is the “hate speech” regulated by the Turkish Law?

                      As I explained in my previous articles for this column, we have a serious problem of “hate speech” in Turkey, especially directed toward minorities. We have an article in the Turkish Penal Code, which punishes incitement to hatred, Article 216 which replaced Article 312 of the former Penal Code. Article 216 reads as follows: (1) A person who openly incites groups of the population to breed enmity or hatred towards one another based on social class, race, religion, sect or regional difference in a manner, which might constitute a clear and imminent danger to public order shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of one to three years.

                      (2) A person who openly denigrates part of the population on grounds of social class, race, religion, sect, gender or regional differences shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of six months to one year.

                      (3) A person who openly denigrates the religious values of a part of the population shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of six months to one year in the case that the act is likely to disturb public peace.

                      I have never witnessed the application of this article to punish ‘hate speech' directed against the minorities. Instead it has been systematically applied to punish those who claim that in Turkey there are minorities or different ‘peoples' other than Turks. By saying this they are supposed to be ‘inciting hatred' within the society! But I have never seen this article pressed by prosecutors against those who really incite hatred towards Protestants, Armenians, Greeks, Jews and others! We Turks are the only Kunta Kintes in the world! [email protected]
                      General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”

                      Comment

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