Tag Archives: Turkey

Israel-Syria Talks Remain Silent

The Israel government continues insisting its desire to engage in discussions with the government of Syria, and has made clear these talks could begin without any preconditions. At the same time, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon argued it was impossible to engage in discussions with Syria as long as that government maintained its ties with Iran and Hamas. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan visited Damascus in an effort to get discussions back on track and once again serve as a mediator. “We are determined to do all we can for peace in the Middle East.”

The Turkish -Israel relation is vivid proof that Jews and Muslims can work together and maintain peaceful relations. A Turkish mediation effort can serve to bring together Israel and Syria provided the Netanyahu ceases playing word games with the peace process. As Winston Churchill, the great prime minister of England often said: “Jaw, jaw, not war, war.”

Why Are Turkish Women Abandoning Headscarves?

A columnist for the Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, created a controversy by claiming there was a trend among Muslim women to abandon the headscarf. He pointe out that the sons of Istanbul’s mayor and a minister in the Cabinet had married women who did not have their head covered as a possible new development. Ahmet Hakan, raised the question: “if conservative men do not marry headscarfed women, who is going to marry them?” The fact such prominent men are willing to marry a woman who does not cover her head suggests that compelling one’s wife to have a headscarf is no longer politically dangerous.

Some critics argue that women who do not wear the headscarf convey a symbol of being a modern woman and this might be beneficial to a political leader who is arguing for change to make Turkey a modern society. Perhaps, it also reflects when a Muslim political party is in power issues such as the headscarf are no longer linked to issues of power. It appears Turkey is moving in the direction of a multi-belief in terms of what women can or can not wear.

Turkey Denounces “Genocide” In Uighur

The prime minister of Turkey issued a sharp statement directed at China for what it termed the “genocide” now occurring in Xinjiang province of western China. Prime Minister Recept Tayiyip Erdogan expressed his shock at the death of nearly 200 people and the wounding of about 1,700 caused by mobs attacking one another in the capital city and the ensuing actions of the Chinese army. Uighur exile leaders expressed their appreciation for Erdogan’s remarks Actually, in fairness of Erdogan he specifically referred to the deaths as a “sort of genocide” and wondered why the Chinese government would not take action to end violence.

It is wonderful that a Turkish leader finally has used the word, “genocide,” but, of course, it is disappointing the word was not used in reference to the genocide carried out by the Ottoman empire against Armenians. The death of 184 is horrible. But, to Erdogan, the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians has yet to be resolved. Perhaps, one day the Turkish government will openly use words like “genocide” and allow their nation to move on.

Will France Allow Turkey Into European Union?

The issue of whether or not Muslim Turkey will be admitted into the European Union will most probably be determined by the attitude of France since President Sarkozy is against allowing a nation containing large numbers of Muslims to enter a European organization. Pierre Leilouche a leading French politician has been a vigorous supporter of Turkey’s entry into the EU but Sarkozy bought him out by offering the position of France’s new minister to Europe. According to Leilouche, “there is one government policy, there are not two, and it is the government’s policy that I will carry out.”

Turkey represents to Europe an opportunity and a serious problem. The problem is will the European Union be fundamentally altered by the presence of a nation whose population is mainly Muslim? There is no question the presence of Turkey will provide Muslims will a strong supporter for policies that foster Muslim ideas. On the other hand, if Turkey can be integrated within the European Union it raises the possibility of melding historic European ideals of democracy and religious freedom within a Muslim context.

Turkish Women Unite For Equal Rights

Turkish women groups have urged introduction of education at all levels of society that would heighten awareness of the need for gender equity. Their demand was in response to a decision of the European Court of Human Rights which punished the Turkish government for failure to provide its female citizens with better protection against domestic abuse. Hulya Gulbar, chairwoman of the Association for Educating and Supporting Women Candidates, said, “there m ust be gender equality education for the whole of society, including the president and the prime minister.” Women are now claiming the Turkish government has a responsibility to protect women who are being abused by husbands in their family lives. This is a new concept for many Muslim societies.

Turkey, like several other Muslim societies has not addressed the issue of abuse by husband of their wives. Fortunately, Turkish women are not taking a meek attitude but now have the support of an European Union court to fight for their rights.

Turkey Entry Into European Union Doubtful

The recent elections to the European Union parliament have resulted in gains for conservatives and right wing groups. Turkey’s bid to enter the EU was doubtful at best, but now that conservatives and anti-Muslim factions have gained more seats in the EU parliament it raises issues as to whether a bid by a Muslim nation will be successful. The recession, rising anger toward immigrants, and loss of confidence in socialist and liberal groups most probably were important factors in the growth of votes for anti-immigrant parties in Europe. Geert Wilders, who has led the fight in the Netherlands, to halt further immigration saw a large improvement in his vote. A fascist from the United Kingdom became the first member of his party to secure a seat in the EU parliament.

Any time there is a recession, anger toward the stranger and immigrants rises in a society. As unemployment increases, people interpret immigrants working as taking away their jobs even though few would actually seek jobs in the lower echelons of society.

Turkey Fined For Failing To End Women Abuse

The European Court of Human Rights issued an historic decision which fined Turkey 36,500 eruos for failing to protect one of its citizens from domestic violence. Nahide Opuz, told the court that she had asked for assistance from Turkish authorities from her husband who wound up killing her mother. Despite her evidence of constant physical abuse, death threats, and physical injuries, nothing was done. The Turkish response to her claim is Ms. Opuz and her mother would make charges against the husband but then withdraw them which, of course, is natural when a woman fears for her life and doubts if the police will protect her.

The court decision noted: “a culture of violence has developed in Turkey and violence is tolerated in many areas of life.” A government should at least understand that women are vulnerable in Turkey to physical violence from their husbands and they need more support than merely filing papers.

If It’s Fascist, It’s Fascist!

Turkey has struggled for decades as to how a nation deals with its past issues. Every nation in the world has events in its past which reflect the horror of ignorance and prejudice. Turkey is no exception. Prime Minister Erdogan expressed his dismay about events in September, 1955 when crowds assaulted Greek shops and houses causing thousands of people to flee the land. Many Greeks who were born and raised in Istanbul decided it was not safe to live in their own homeland. The Erdogan comment aroused a fury of anger among members of opposition parties who accused him of insulting the people of Turkey. According to DEniz Baykai, leader of the Republican People’s Party, “what does he want to achieve by accusing Turkey? We should of course discuss what we did wrong, but the duty of the prime minister is to respect the rights of Turkey.” Huh!

The job of the prime minister is to be the moral conscience of a nation. In America, we have endured a president who was incapable of respecting human rights and the result has been disaster for his nation’s reputation. Prime Minister Erdogan’s comments are respected by people of the world and he has aided Turkey to hold up its head.

Turkey Faces Up To Expulsion History

Turkish Prime Minister Rcep Tayyip Erdogan was among the first Turkish leaders to speak out against efforts to expel ethnic identities from the country. It was the first time a high official accepted that there have been unlawful and undemocratic practices against minorities in the past. His speech most probably related to events in September, 1955 when many Greek shops and houses were pillaged by crowds after false reports that someone had burnt Kemal Ataturk’s house. Greek houses were burnt and thousands of Greeks fled the country.

Some day the people of Turkey will grasp what Americans have finally learned to admit. In the past terrible things are done to those who are defenseless. It requires courage to admit that one’s ancestors committed terrible crimes. In the 1980s, the US Congress apologized for the interment of Japanese Americans during WWII. The capacity to be truthful is necessary if a nation is to have a soul based on respect for human dignity.

Syria–Who Do We Talk With In Israel Government?

During the past half century a continual complaint on the part of Israel leaders was their inability to find anyone in an Arab government who was serious about engaging in discussions about future peace. Ironically, this complaint is now being uttered by Arab leaders about the nature of Israel’s government. Syrian leader, President Bashar Assad complained, “we cannot talk about a date (for resuming talks) because we don’t have a partner.” A major problem hindering the pursuit of peace in the Middle East is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has filled his Cabinet with Arab haters like Avigdor Lieberman and this reduces opportunities for intelligent dialogue. On one hand, Israel complains that Hamas has publicly announced its determination to wipe out Israel. Of course, on the other hand, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has made similar remarks about wiping out Arabs.

President Gul of Turkey, who regards his nation as a mediator between Israel and Syria, has noted: “Israel has to show clearly it is a partner.” He pointed out Syria wants to talk, and “we in Turkey are also ready.” So, let’s get on with talks and replace Lieberman with someone who can gain trust of Arabs.