When I started writing this blog, nearly seven years ago, my aim was two-fold:
First to present to English-speakers out there an alternative picture of this country to the one they tend to get from their own corporate-controlled mass media, and
Second, to give Turks themselves another view of their history and culture that their own education system does not always do justice to.
I came up with the name “Turkey File”, which, of course, is a not-very-creative pun along the lines of “Anglophile, bibliophile” etc.
I’m not planning to write here about the latest terrorist outrage committed at the Reina nightclub on New Year’s Eve. I do, however, want to pass on the words of an American citizen, William Rakk, quoted in our Hürriyet newspaper this morning. The young man was wounded in the hail of gunfire that took the lives of 39 innocent young people enjoying the first celebration of 2017. “I want to come back to Turkey,” William said. “This is a beautiful country. The people are great!”
Also on the front page was a brief report about a journalist from Britain’s Independent newspaper. Simon Calder was quoted as saying, “I’m impatient to go to Turkey. The best response to random acts of violence is not to change your behaviour.”
In another positive, the so-called “Islamic-rooted” AK Party government has let it be known that they will not tolerate religious nutters trumpeting that the New Year’s Eve killings were God’s punishment for godless alcohol-drinking sinners. Freedom of speech is an important human right, for sure – but there should be limits, don’t you agree?
A few years ago some religious extremists were demanding that the government turn the Aya Sofia Museum back into a mosque. Mr Erdoğan’s reply at the time was, “When you can fill the next-door Sultanahmet Mosque five times a day, and not just for Friday prayers, we’ll look into it.”
Well last week I had my residence permit for living in Turkey renewed, and I’m happy about that. It is indeed a beautiful country. Its government and its people have been good to me – and I have no intention of leaving.