Turkish diaspora see Erdoğan as ‘healer’ of frustrations

Extracts from an interview with Professor Ayhan Kaya

From the start I have challenged the rise of “civilizational” discourse, which originates from the “clash of civilizations” paradigm introduced by Samuel Huntington, based on the idea that Muslims and Christians cannot live together simply because they are from two different civilizations. Civilization cannot simply be reduced to religions, it is much more of a material process related to urbanization, industrialization, etc.

1*0Fe6fTDdKidxPXKCNrljtgLook at what happened in Palestine. Israel killed more than 60 Palestinians and this shows there is no global justice. One of the reasons why there is more radicalization among Muslim-origin youths towards Islamism is the belief that there is no global justice.

Right-wing populist parties are instrumentalizing the fear of refugees and fear of Islam for their own use. In our interviews in six countries with supporters of right-wing populist parties, we saw that they are not actually too hostile to refugees. Rather, they are hostile to settled migrants.

In our research in different European countries we saw what Erdoğan signifies for many members of the Turkish-origin public. He is seen as the person who can heal the sources of their problems. What many see in the image of Erdoğan is a strong personality who can challenge European leaders.

We don’t really see much radicalization among Turkish-origin youths in terms of jihadism. We see that more among members of the North African diaspora. I think one of the reasons for this is the Ottoman past. The Ottomans were never colonized, which gives them a difference in terms of their identification compared to North Africans. 

The misperception about Islamophobes in Europe is contributing to the rise of anti-Westernism among Turkish politicians, some of whom have started to suggest there is a “war between the crescent and the cross.” This is completely wrong; the war is between the rich and the poor, the center and the periphery.

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19 May: Beginning of Turkey’s War of National Liberation

19 May: Youth and Sports Day to Commemorate Atatürk

May 19, 1919 marks the beginning of the Turkish War of National Liberation, a turning point in Turkey’s history. On this day, a young Ottoman general, Mustafa Kemal, arrived in Samsun. The man, who would later be known to the world as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, stepped ashore on this small Black Sea Coast town to embark on a journey that would ultimately create the Republic of Turkey and a new nation state.

19-mayis-genclik-spor-bayramiThe Ottoman Empire at the time had been carved up as a result of its ill-fated decision to join World War I on the side of the Germans. The defeated Ottoman government signed the Mondros agreement with the Allied forces, securing its own existence, while relinquishing almost all of its territories, except for a small Anatolian heartland, to Britain, Italy, France and Greece. The Mondros agreement, designed to decimate the Ottoman nation, was being implemented step by step with the final insult to the Ottomans coming with the invasion of Izmir and violent advance into Anatolia by the Greek army. Civilian resistance began building up against the occupation, but without a sense of direction or coordination.

Mustafa Kemal, whose public and military standing was solidified as the military commander who won the Ottoman victory in Gallipoli, was assigned the post of Inspector General of the Ottoman Armies to Anatolia. He immediately left Istanbul aboard an old steamer, arriving in Samsun on May 19, 1919. Mustafa Kemal dispatched his first report to the Ottoman Sultan on May 22, underlining that Turks would not accept foreign subjugation and longed for national sovereignty. This signaled the beginning of the national liberation struggle. Realizing that Samsun, already under British occupation and surrounded by Greek irregular forces, was no longer safe, Mustafa Kemal moved his staff to Havza, about 85 km inland, on May 25.

In Havza, Ataturk’s historic mission unfolded. He dispatched telegrams to local resistance organizations all over Anatolia to organize mass demonstrations protesting the occupation and to inform the public about the gravity of the situation. Demonstrations followed across the country. Several leading Ottoman army generals and their troops joined Mustafa Kemal and signed the Declaration of Amasya on June 22, 1919, declaring that the unity of the country and the liberty of the people were in danger, that the Istanbul government was inept to save the nation and that “the liberty of the nation was to be saved by the nation’s own perseverance and will.” This declaration included the first signs of Ataturk’s vision of national sovereignty and democratic rule for the Turkish people.

Mustafa Kemal took the leadership in convening two national congresses with representatives from all over the Empire in Erzurum and Sivas, followed by the forming of a national parliament in Ankara on April 23, 1920. He was elected as Commander in Chief and organized the remaining Ottoman forces, as well as irregular forces under the Ankara government’s central command, creating a new army that eventually defeated the occupying forces.

The Turkish War of Liberation lasted four years and culminated in the international recognition of Turkey’s borders through the treaty of Lausanne on July 24, 1923 and the founding of the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923. Ataturk later declared May 19 as a national holiday dedicated to Turkish youth and sports. The holiday continues to be celebrated today in Turkey as Ataturk Remembrance, Youth and Sports Day.

Source: Turkish Coalition of America

Press Freedom in Turkey – and democracy on social media

Feelings are running high in Turkey at present over the violent attacks by Israeli security forces on Palestinian protesters in Gaza. The government has openly condemned the Israeli government’s actions. This evening a public meeting will be held in Istanbul, and no doubt strong words will be spoken.

Yenikapı protest

Condemn the cruelty – Support Jerusalem!

Interestingly, the people of Turkey, and before them, the Ottoman Empire have a long history of providing friendship, support and even sanctuary to Jewish people when they were suffering persecution in Europe.

I want to share with you two news items that appeared in our local newspaper this morning:

The first refers to an incident that took place yesterday in Taksim Square – a location teeming with emotive connotations for Turks of all political persuasions.

Israeli journalists

Reaction to two Israeli journalists

Apparently two Israeli journalists representing a TV channel Hadashot were attempting to interview passersby about their views on the recent events in Gaza. It seems things were peaceful enough until a woman, allegedly a citizen of Azerbaijan, became angry. “You are killing people in Palestine,” she shouted, “and you are coming here to do reports!”

A crowd began to gather and two other people joined the woman in starting to push the two journalists around. Luckily for the Israelis, police intervened, listened to their complaints and took the woman into custody.

Netanyahu's son

An ugly share

The second item was about Yair Netanyahu, son of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the article, the PM’s son posted a picture of the Turkish flag on Instagram accompanied by some obscene words.

Possibly the young Netanyahu was surprised at the negative reaction he received to his post, and shortly after closed his Instagram account.

“We Are All Palestinians Now”

I’m not going to write about the massacres in Palestine, but I’m reblogging this from Shuck and Jive:

Anti-SemiteNakba 1948

Holocaust Denier

Conspiracy Theorist

People are beginning to awaken to the fact that the name-calling is connected to the violent oppression. The name-calling and the smearing is the weapon the oppressors use to silence the resistance. When someone is labeled as an anti-Semite, Holocaust Denier, Conspiracy Theorist and what have you, then we don’t need to listen to what they have to say.  You don’t need an argument.  Call someone an icky name, then avoid them and tell others to avoid them.

The surprising thing is that the name-calling often comes from the mouths of those in opposition to the oppressors. When pro-Palestinian activists call other pro-Palestinian activists these names, then we know the true power of the oppressor. The oppressor controls the language of the opposition.

When I met with divestment activists in the Presbyterian Church (USA) four years ago, I was surprised when one of them told me that we can now use the word “occupation.” When the divestment movement in the PCUSA had begun over a decade previous, calling what Israel was doing to Palestine “an occupation” was not allowed. I asked, “Who makes those rules?” The answer had to do with strategy and who might be offended and who would support and not support their particular goals and so on and so forth.

The rules are self-made and guided by the oppressors.

The oppressors allow the little victories as long as the truth of what keeps the oppressors in power is not allowed to be revealed. When someone like for instance, Gilad Atzmon, starts talking about the ideology behind the oppressors, then an artificial line that has been drawn by the oppressors is crossed. All forces are then unleashed to smear not only Mr. Atzmon but anyone who might even give him space to defend himself against such attacks.

Meanwhile, mass murder continues while churches in America either cheer it on, satisfy themselves with smaller goals that won’t offend the sensitivities of the oppressors, or, as in most cases, remain deadly silent.

palestineI do think people are beginning to awaken to the fact that the name-calling is connected to the violent oppression and that the name-calling says much more about the name-caller than the name-called. The next step is heart or courage. If we are going to dismantle the oppressor by dismantling their control of the discourse, then we must accept that we, too, will be smeared when we give space to those who cross the oppressors’ line.  This may affect our reputations, our jobs, our livelihoods.

But that is nothing compared to what is happening to our sisters and brothers in Gaza on this 70th anniversary of the ongoing Nakba. As Mr. Atzmon writes, “We are all Palestinians now.”

Mount Ararat home to rare species of squirrel

mountAraratMount Ararat, Turkey’s highest mountain, is home to Anatolian ground squirrels and other extraordinary wildlife. 

Various bird species, predators, mammals, reptiles and many rodent species are also living on Mount Ararat. 

Mount Ararat has a snow-capped peak that towers over eastern Turkey, Iran and Armenia. It is where the Bible says Noah landed his ark after the flood. 

Thanks to its flora and fauna dotted on thousands of acres of land, the mountain provides a unique living environment to wild animals, some of which are still unknown to science. 

ararat squirrel

Anatolian ground squirrel

Anatolian ground squirrels, which live in the region but are rarely seen, have been drawing great attention. 

Iğdır Forestry and Water Affairs Director Mete Türkoğlu said, “This species is generally found in the region from the Caucasus to Iraq, Syria and even Palestine. In Turkey, they live across the eastern provinces of Kars, Erzurum, Iğdır and Ağrı as well as in the Central Anatolian region,” he said. 

He said the squirrels had many reasons to choose Mount Ararat and its vicinity. “They generally prefer dry lands; places far from water and moisture, but where people are. The reason why they are seen especially during these months is that they spend half of the year sleeping.

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Erdoğan long-awaited mentor for Muslims

Bosnian leader Bakir Izetbegovic said May 12 that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a mentor for Muslims, a fact that makes him unpopular in the West.

Bosnian leader

Bosnian leader Bakir Izetbegovic

Speaking at an event organized by his Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in capital Sarajevo, the chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina said: “Our friend is not very popular in the West, because Erdoğan is a long-awaited great leader for Muslims.”

“They [the West] are not disturbed by primitive and ignorant Muslims,” he said.

 “But when it comes to economic development, they are disturbed by a man who opens his doors to three million refugees, who builds the world’s largest airport, deals with terrorism and wars at his country’s borders.” 

Erdoğan is expected to visit Sarajevo on May 20. 

Izetbegovic said that their meeting during the visit will focus on a highway project that will link Sarajevo and Serbia’s capital Belgrade. 

Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Phrygian Way attracts nature lovers

PHRYGIAN WAYThe Phrygian Way, which passes through four provinces in the Aegean and Central Anatolian regions, has become popular among nature lovers with its 506-kilometer route, the third longest hiking trail in Turkey.

The Union for the Protection and Development of Phrygian Cultural Heritage (FRİGKÜM), which was formed in 2009 for the revival of the Phrygian Valley, has realized a project that will enable people to discover the historical, cultural and natural beauties in the region as a whole by walking and biking. 

The entire route has been marked with red and white colors at international standards to provide safe walks for travelers on the Phrygian Way and informative direction signs have been placed at 73 points. 

One of the best cultural routes in the country, the Phrygian Way passes through eight districts and 44 villages in the province of Afyonkarahisar, Ankara, Eskişehir and Kütahya. 

phrygian_wayThe Phrygian Valley, with its rock formations from the Phrygians, rock monuments, rock tombs, churches and chapels, fairy chimneys and other natural beauties, is one of the most charming valleys in Turkey. 

One of the most important features of the region is thermal water springs. Since the Phrygians, it has been used for healing purposes and the region became known as Healing Phrygia. Because of this, interest in thermal resources in the Afyonkarahisar, Eskişehir and Kütahya provinces will increase,” said Tutulmaz. 

“Now . . . a dream has come true. The Phrygian Valley is the new spot for alternative tourism with log cabins, ATVs, bicycles and boat tours on Emre Lake. Similar projects will also be carried out in the Kütahya and Eskişehir parts of the valley this year,” he said. 

FrigPhrygian Valley 

The Phrygian Valley has been home to a number of communities since ancient times. The area was dominated by the Phrygians between 900 B.C. and 600 B.C. but was dealt a fatal blow in 676 B.C. by the Cimmerians, who came from further east beyond Anatolia. Later, the area fell under Roman control

The Phrygians experienced a golden age during the reign of King Midas, who ruled from Gordion—close to present-day Ankara—and is thought to have lived between 738 B.C. and 696 B.C.

Source: Hürriyet Daily News