Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Turkey: Turning West, or East, or Both?


Geographically, modern Turkey is Eurasian, with its west in the West, ie Europe, and its east in the Middle East. Most of its sits on the region called Anatolia, extending from the Mediterranean Sea past the Black Sea. It borders Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Historically, Anatolia has been Aeolian, Ionian, Armenian, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine, all before the Turkic peoples arrived in the 10th century from the eastern steppes. Afterward it was part of Turkic empires notably the Seljuk Empire, then part of the Mongol Empire, until the Ottoman Empire emerged in the 14th century, peaked in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, and then began a long decline until it was fully dismantled by the Treaty of Sèvres (1920).





At its peak, the Ottoman Empire extended well into Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. The official religion was Islam, and Ottoman Turkish was a hybrid language of Turkish, Arabic, and Persian written in Arabic script. After its demise, and the reforms of Ataturk, it became a single nation state, officially secular, and a constitutional republic. Turkish, now written in Roman script, is the official language.


Turkey has been in the Western news a lot more than usual in the last few years. First, it was because of its proposed full entry into the EU. This proposal elicited a lot of debate about whether Turkey was part of Europe at all, or part of West Asia/ the Middle East. It also engendered more direct commentary about the "perils" of admitting a Muslim majority country, even a long "modernized", "progressive" one, where laws already existed against women wearing the hijab.

In the last two years Turkey has been in the news for its humanitarian aid to Gaza, which resulted in Israeli attacks and the loss of Turkish life. Earlier this year Turkey was seen as a mediator and a buffer against a negative impact on Western interests of the Arab Spring. However, since the decision by Israel to disculpate its own troops in the international incident against Turkish based humanitarian ships, Turkey has responded against Israel in ways that are unsettling to the West, or at least to the US. There are also economic issues inflaming old rivalries: Turkish exploration for oil and gas near Cypress, and the European Union's economic implosion, making the Middle East seen as a more reliable partner.


The article below raises the spectre of a conservative turn in Turkey, emphasizing external pressures more than the acknowledged internal ones. After all, Mr Erdogan was democratically elected, by a populace who presumably knew of the conservatism attributed to him.

Patrons sit outside a bar in Beyoglu, in the heart of Istanbul, where authorities have banned tables and chairs in the street since mid-July. Charla Jones for The Globe and Mail

TURKEY
Istanbul’s public drinking dispute is bigger than tables and chairs
GRAEME SMITH
ISTANBUL— From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Oct. 04, 2011 7:57PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Oct. 05, 2011 6:08AM EDT

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently toured the Middle East, touting his government as a new model of Islamism – progressive, modern and tolerant – for a region at a political crossroads.

That kind of talk drives people crazy in the heart of Istanbul’s Beyoglu nightlife district.

Bar and restaurant owners say thousands of workers have lost their jobs after a decision in July that swept patio tables off the streets, and they speculate that the pious Mr. Erdogan may be trying to hide the most visibly hedonistic side of his country at this sensitive moment of outreach to the Arab world.

“We are turning East, politically and economically,” said Tahir Berrakkarasu, director of a local business association. “Today’s administration is against alcohol, basically, because they think it’s immoral.”

Much of the speculation focuses on a visit by the Prime Minister during a religious holiday this summer, which left the bar owner with the uncomfortable feeling that the patio dispute involved more than the usual bickering over municipal rules.

Istanbul still has a more rollicking bar scene than any Canadian city, and Mr. Erdogan has never admitted a role in the squabbles over its regulation. Tables and chairs in pedestrian walkways technically fall under the mandate of the local mayor. Supporters of the Prime Minister argue that the ruckus over patio tables could not have been linked with his foreign policy, or his religious views, by pointing out that the mayor’s men have been playing a cat-and-mouse game with restaurant owners for years.

Local officials set limits on how much of the sidewalk could serve as a seating area for eating and drinking, and establishments merrily thwarted those rules with a mix of bribery, trickery and brazen disobedience. The municipality’s failure to control the tables spilling into the streets gave the old neighbourhoods of Beyoglu a bohemian charm that attracted an estimated 2.6 million visitors on busy summer weekends.

The Prime Minister himself was among the recent visitors, although he wasn’t stopping for a beer. Witnesses saw a convoy of five or six black sedans roll into the neighbourhood on July 15, part of a three-day religious holiday. It’s rumoured that Mr. Erdogan was marking the occasion with a visit to the Galata Mevlevihanesi, an historic hall founded by Sufi Muslims in 1491.

A bar owner, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation against his business, said he saw the convoy leaving Beyoglu, slowly creeping down a hill. It was a typical Friday afternoon, he said, with patrons jam-packed at small tables that occupied the entire sidewalk, forcing throngs of pedestrians into the cobblestone street. The scene would have reflected the cosmopolitanism of this urban enclave, with local Muslim girls in short skirts often indistinguishable from tourists.

Somebody who appeared to be a bodyguard poked his head out of one of the black sedans and started screaming at people blocking the convoy’s path, the bar owner said. He cast doubt on a widespread rumour that patrons had lifted their beer and wine glasses to salute the Prime Minister, but added that it may have happened when he wasn’t looking.

If one of Mr. Erdogan’s bodyguards did lose his temper, it wouldn’t have been an isolated incident. A United Nations guard was hospitalized with bruised ribs on Sept. 23 after a fight with the Turkish Prime Minister’s entourage.

Nor would it have been unusual for Mr. Erdogan to make policy spontaneously: Last January, upon seeing a pair of concrete statues built in eastern Turkey in the name of peaceful relations between Turkey and Armenia, the Prime Minister reportedly called the sculpture “a monstrosity” and ordered it destroyed.

Whatever the impetus, municipal authorities scrambled to clear away the patios. A series of raids began on July 20, with swarms of security officers removing tables – at times, locals say, while patrons were eating. The head waiter at one restaurant recalled chasing after the trucks that removed his patio furniture; after long negotiations, he obtained a permit to recover the items from a municipal yard, only to discover that the security forces had smashed them.

A similarly crushing response quelled some of the demonstrations that sprang up against what became known as the “Table Operation.” In Galata Square, a teenager played saxophone while his friends sang protest songs; plainclothes security officers shoved their way into the crowd and arrested the ringleaders, amid scuffles.

A local business group, Beyder, says it has collected 30,000 signatures on a petition against the operation. The group estimates that 2,500 staff have lost their jobs, as the dispute drags into its third month, but a quick resolution seems unlikely.

“The problem is bigger than the tables and chairs,” said Aydin Ali Kalayci, an executive member of Beydar, who runs a popular restaurant. “The problem is that the money is flowing now from the Middle East, so they want to make changes in our society. Time is running out for us.”

More related to this story

* Turkish military ship raises hackles in oil and gas hunt
* Off Cyprus, the hunt for oil and gas threatens to rekindle an old conflict
* Turkey asserting itself on the world stage
* Israel's flotilla raid was ‘cause for war,’ Turkey PM says
* Turkey threatens to send warships to escort future Gaza aid boats
* Turkey backs Palestinian statehood; notifies Israeli diplomats to leave country

**********

Your comments, thoughts, impressions?

Mourners chant slogans as they wave Palestinian flags during the funeral ceremony of a Turkish activist who was killed when Israel seized the Gaza-bound 'Freedom Flotilla,' at Beyazit square in Istanbul, Turkey Friday. Murad Sezer/Reuters. From the Christian Monitor article, "Turkey-Israel crisis: Why the formerly obscure IHH is playing a key role". See also In Pictures: The Gaza flotilla and the aftermath of the Israeli naval raid

54 comments:

Wendy said...

I find it quite a concern because Turkey has always, at least in my mind, been the poster boy for a democracy where Islam is practiced. It would be sad to see the country step backwards.
On the issue of the US not liking their aid to Palestine ... too, too bad!!! If Turkey takes a step backward because of the USA stance then that is another black mark on the wall for the USA and their meddling.

Haitham هيثم Al-Sheeshany الشيشاني said...

.. or both I guess!

Turkey is reaping the fruits of careful long-term planning ...

רעיה said...
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Jay Kactuz said...

Very good write up of a very relevant issue in our world. Turkey occupies a strategic place in world geography and the Ottoman / Turkish nation has a long and grand history. As a bridge between East and West it can multiply its importance and leverage its politics.

The answer to your question is: East - definitively. Turkey is going Islamist. We will see Turkey taking a more Radical, Islamic, Arab/Muslim friendly, anti-Israel position in the future. It will also become less democratic, less secular, but that goes with the territory. This is bad news for the West, Israel and the Turkish people. As the guy said: “Time is running out”.

Erdogan and the AK party see Islam, fundamentalist Islam, as a way to extend Turkish influence over the Middle East and Arab world. The Ottomans are back and I don’t mean the couch. Won’t the Arabs be surprised! They will find out that life is not exactly a Turkish soap opera (even though the Brazilian ones are better – the senhoritas use less clothes!). Perhaps a rerun of Lawrence of Arabia would be in order.

Turkey is not going back to the ‘golden age of Islam’ much less the glory of Suleiman and his empire.

My question is if Israel is going to quietly send aid to the Kurds. Payback is a b*tch.

Oh yes, my mother, for reasons I don’t know, was fascinated with the Janissaries. So I learned a lot about Ottoman history as a kid.

oby said...

I HOPE Turkey stays more or less as it is...I think it is an example of how religion can coexist with normal life. Sadly, however, I am in agreement with Jay...if you see these kind of scenes of people eating that you have pictured above in 10 years I will be surprised.(and delighted!!)Alcohol will be forbidden, hijab will be a "choice" still(but I don't think it is a choice when you feel pressure to do so socially even if it is not actually forced). I think Islamism will seep into the country and change it from what it is today to a far stricter and less easy going place.

Someone once told me that in the case of Islam at this time in history conservatism vs non...conservatism generally wins out and the level get ratcheted up over time to crowd out the nonconservatives slowly almost imperceptibly...I hope that is not the case in Turkey but I think it is already started.

Countrygirl said...

I agree with Jay and Obt i see in Turkey a down spiral toward islamism....Granted in Istabnbul people wants to live in the 21st century, but if you go in the countryside honor killings are common...just recentely a cartoonist was imprisoned only because he inted in one of his drawing that he renounced islam.

I hope that in Turkey won't happen what happened in Egypt...recentely i saw different photos (from different decades) taken in the same university at the gradution day. In the photos from the 50es/60es NO women wear scarves,nijab,hijab BUT in the last photo you can see a couple of women wearing the nijab and several the hijab.

As an Italian i DON'T want turkey in Europe. Erdogan said during a speech in Germany to his compatriots that they should learn Turkish before German and resist assimilation into German society.

I don't want a state with a backward mentaly where it's not a made a big fuss about honor killings
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/04/girl-buried-alive-turkey

but of course right now girls are forced to suicide instead of the father/whoever killing them

where you can't change religion without fearing for your life or send to prison for "insulting Turkishness"

Wendy said...

Tourism is such a big money-maker in Turkey. Hopefully that will have some bearing on how things play out. I guess to be safe I should plan to get there sooner rather than later.

oby said...

Countrygirl...

And the problem is that Muslims will say it has nothing to do with Islam... that it is being distorted and misinterpreted...yet in every instance where islamism takes hold the same thing happens...the societies reverse growth and go back to the dark ages of women losing ground, nonmuslims losing ground etc. So WHO EXACTLY is thinking that islamism is the truer form of islam to be applied to these countries if the REAL islam is not the right one (ie: the more moderate islam) Muslims get upset when nonmuslims look at islam and ascribe to it the characteristics they see being applied in countries. Even countries that were more moderate until islamism got hold. I guess they figure if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it must be a duck.

What pisses me off and I pray to god somewhere Muslims will do it (maybe in the West) is that no one who is going from more moderate to more restricted kicks up a big stink about it (perhaps for fear of being labeled infidel)and things keep moving backward to no ones advantage, except perhaps the clerics.

רעיה said...
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oby said...

רעיה...

Your name is very interesting...as it is wife in Hebrew let me assume you are a woman. If I am wrong please correct me.

Do you consider yourself an Islamist? To me there is a big difference between Islamist and conservative, although in some ways there is overlap. In the instance I am talking about women go from being allowed full rights to taking second class citizen status. Nonmuslims are not allowed the same status or rights as Muslims. Their freedom to practice their faith is severely restricted. Women who would not normally wear hijab start to wear it because socially it is looked down upon not to...one is not as religious or pious if one does not.To me a lack of headcovering does not make one less pious just as full covering does not make one closer to Allah except perhaps in their own minds. Years ago no one wore hijab...were those women not true god loving and god fearing Muslims? If one chooses to be conservative and practice a more conservative form of faith that is their choice. But invariably I have found whether it is Jew, Christian or Muslim who has the conservative attitude it often means less tolerance for people not of he same religious persuasion...it even applies to those of the same faith who are not as conservative as they. If one wants to be conservative that is fine...as long as they have acceptance that others will not be as conservative as they are and they leave them alone. So the young muslim girl who likes to be modern and not wear hijab or niqab should not be made to feel as if she is a "bad" muslim for choosing to express her faith that way. Nor should that modern girl feel that the hijabi has no right to wear it if she likes. But as I said it is often the very conservative who slowly turn a country from open and accepting to less so and in doing so takes opportunity and tolerance with them.

Here is a link written by a Turkish person who very nicely lays out the difference between Muslims and Islamists. Unfortunately often Islamism is too often confused with conservatism or even plain old Islam.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10047/1036089-109.stm

רעיה said...
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Wendy said...

רעיה
Please enjoy your faith and your life they way you like to live it. Please don't try to change everyone to your way of thinking. Please don't require everyone in a country to adapt to a conservative lifestyle. People should be allowed to make decisions for themselves without have a government or religion decide what is best for them. Please allow others to enjoy their own faith in your country even if it is not Islam. It is not for you to judge what is right or wrong for them or to deny them they way they want to live. If Islam is so wonderful people will come to it on their own and in their own time and if they wish to resign from it they should be allowed to do that also. After all - isn't it up to Allah to judge?

oby said...

Thought I would add this to the post: It is a story from today's mail about Christian Copts who are protesting (allegedly peacefully) to have Egypt stop the discrimination against them. They make up 10% of the people. As Egypt becomes more islamist they are becoming less tolerant. 30 or 40 years ago Egypt was a country where women and men worked and educated together. Copts existed more or less quietly...as it becomes more conservative it becomes less tolerant. It is almost a given no matter where one goes. Conservatism breeds intolerance. It is amazing how it looks a lot the same wherever one sees it.

http://news.yahoo.com/riots-erupt-christians-protest-cairo-1-dead-174926138.html

רעיה said...
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Chiara said...

רעיה-My apologies that I didn't welcome and thank you from your first comment, and intervene earlier. This is exactly the type of feeling I don't want people to have on my blog. I am glad you provided an alternative perspective in what I thought was a respectful and non-judgmental way. It is always hard to speak up with a different view than the one that comes to predominate in a discourse, and I thank you for your courage in doing so. I do hope you will continue to comment here and on other older and newer posts of interest to you. Once again, my apologies. It is a holiday weekend here in Canada, and so my time online, and particularly for comments has been constricted.

Chiara said...

Wendy--thank you for your comments. I know how strongly you feel about the hijab and particularly the niqab. I also appreciate that your initial comment was broader about Turkish and US policy. It seems to me that part of why Turkey is turning more East, beyond economics, is that the EU was so unwelcoming. Now with the implosion of the EU economy, Turkey may feel it has made a narrow escape, of the "be careful what you wish for types". Thanks again for your comments.

Haitham-Thanks for commenting. Care to expand on how long-term the planning has been? I agree Turkey is probably watching in both directions. I would imagine someone of Circassian origin has a fair insight into Turkey's history, and (in)tolerance. :D

Chiara said...

Jay-thanks for your comment. You have indeed led an interesting life in an interesting family. We of course disagree on the doom and gloom scenario, and the inevitability of an Islamist decline. :D

Oby-thanks for your comment. I agree that it would be a shame if Turkey were to ossify, but I don't think that is necessarily what his happening. Erdogan is elected, and could be unelected. Extreme conservatism can be loud beyond its actual strength in a society. I would see the extreme right and extreme religious conservatives in the US in that light.

Chiara said...

Countrygirl-thank you for commenting. I think your comment exemplifies what a certain segment of European feels about Turkey entering the EU. It did remind me though that the Canadian citizenship ceremony says essentially the same to new Canadians--keep your languages and cultures and be good Canadians by doing so. There is the option to swear the oath on no holy book, the Bible, the Hebrew Bible, or the Qur'an. Copies of all are available free at the door for this purpose. The judge begins with a celebration of the number of countries and languages represented (101 countries at the one I attended). The ceremony is conducted in English and in French. People wear whatever they want.

BTW-I recently renewed my Italian passport. I was impressed with the three pages of examples of how the photos must be taken (size, exposure, closeness, face on, etc). There is an illustration of how the photo is to be taken of hijabis. The face must be uncovered ie no niqab, no low hanging veil over the face. However it can be covered so that only the oval of the face is showing ie hijab tied tight around the face but not covering it. I may do a post on it if I can find the example online.

Chiara said...

Thanks to all who commented, and shared their impressions, sources, and links. I appreciate that the dialogue was respectful, but unfortunately one person was the only one speaking up with a markedly different perspective.

My apologies for delays in replying to comments on this and other posts, although I do read them all and usually within a very short time of their going up. I do hope to have more consistent availability for replies.

Please carry on commenting!

Thanksgiving Day, Columbus Day, and other topics upcoming! :D

oby said...

" I would see the extreme right and extreme religious conservatives in the US in that light."

I would agree with you. They bark pretty loudly but I am not sure they speak for a majority...but Chiara...I can't imagine if the extreme religious got power...EVERYONE would be a target. I can't imagine the strict Baptists or whomever causing people to not be able to dance or listen to music or wear makeup or chose to imbibe a drink if they want or or or....it is the same record but different side for any faith. It always looks the same. The guy got it right about islamists, but really you could plug in extreme Christians here too I think. They define themselves often by what they are against. Conservatism is a fine thing in some ways, but too much snuffs out the lights of life. That is why secular laws are so important. They protect the rights of those who are a target. Turkey seemed to have a balance and I really hope they maintain that secularism...even as it stands I don't think minorities have the best shake there but it is better than many other places.

Your ceremony must have been very moving.

oby said...

רעיה...

I was not stating that YOU are an islamist nor am I saying you, as a conservative, are bad. I don't know you...you might be a very nice person. As I said conservativism is not a bad thing as long as the conservatives leave room for everybody who is not like them and don't try to dominate the landscape and force others not like them out or to bend to their way of thinking. The problem IMO is that there are very few conservatives who are able to do that....they think they are right and the rest have got it wrong. If you are a conservative who believes that everyone, regardless of faith, should have equal rights in your country then it doesn't apply to you. I am not Muslim but I believe Muslims should have the right to practice their faith in my country (USA) if they want. I could not be comfortable if suddenly my gov't said that no one other than Christians (the majority) have any religious rights. That would be wrong. But in essence that is what happens in many of the muslim majority countries...Muslims have rights that others do not have and they are not protected by law. And we can say Islam allows for nonmuslims and there is no compulsion but where is it really practiced like that? That is why I am all for secular laws. It prevents people from following the impulse (regardless of which faith they are) that they are the best and others are not.

Jay Kactuz said...

רעיה

“…al-Andalus witnessed social harmony between various races & cultures.”

Not exactly. Perhaps you should look into events in Corboda in 1066 or do research on the Martyrs of Córdoba. Consider also the life of the greatest Jew of the middle ages, Maimonides. He left Spain (Andalusia) because of Muslim persecution and moved to Morocco (more persecution) and finally to Egypt. His work, Letter to the Jews of Yemen, is the definitive document about Jewish – Muslim relationships and it is not good news.

What one can say accurately is that often, more often then not, Muslims were more tolerant, or better, less intolerant of others than Christians during the middle ages. At no time have Christians or Jews had rights equal to Muslims under Islam, not 1300 years ago, not 1000 years ago, not 500 years ago, much less today.

Both in Baghdad and Andalusia, the great enlightenment in those empires was the product of a join effort of Muslims, Christians, Jews, Persians, Zoroastrians and Hindus. In fact, when the salafis gained the upper hand (by 1200-1250), they expelled or killed the non-Muslims, and the Golden Age of Islam came to an end (with the help of the Mongols, too), just ask Ibn Rushd (Averroes) about this in Andalusia.

One can always find events in history to support a thesis, particularly if one ignores other events that contradict a favored position.

Nobody here is saying that Muslims are stupid, backward or evil. What I am saying is that some Muslims did some very bad things, including your prophet, and I say this based upon Islam’s on writings, and these things are either taught as doctrine to bad Muslims or ignored by good Muslims. This causes serious problems, pain and suffering and makes me very suspicious about Muslims.

רעיה, I am trying to say this in a nice way so that Chiara doesn't put my bald head in a basket with the rest.

One thing you are very right about is that the hijabis have a harder time (than male Muslims). They are often denigrated, yes, but because they visually identify with Islam. I hope you understand that it is normal and in my opinion, fair, to link Islam and Muslims to the theology and actions of Muslims. Why should Muslims not be held accountable for their beliefs and actions? Just saying “Islamophobia” does not excuse Muslims from the consequences of their actions and beliefs – and don’t give me the old “its only some” line because these issues are generalized and transcend nationality, gender, race and ethnic groups among Muslims.

And so why is it that Muslim men always make it easy for themselves but impose hardships in so many ways on Mulsimas (clothes, morality, marriage, rights, etc.)?

As to “spiral to the abyss”, welcome to my world. You take care.

PS: This argument in the link was very weak. It is nonsensical to blame all the so-called Islamist problems on 'annotations' in non-Arabic Qurans. Even Muslims reading the original Arabic version (or better the 1920’s Cairo version), have no problem finding extremist ideology. Besides that, why the difficulty to interpret a book that declares itself to be "simple and easy to understand"?

Jay Kactuz said...

Countrygirl has a good point about Turkey = Istanbul as compared to Turkey = the Countryside. When we think of Turkey, we usually put ourselves in the streets, mosques, churches and bazars of old Constantinople, but it seems that a very different reality is blowing from the East. The Turks I have met have been great, even if a little crazy in a good way. Several years ago I went to a Gulen meeting to check it out, but found no difference between them (supposedly a reformist, moderate group) and our local Sunni-Salafi Imam.

Countrygirl said...

@Chiara if you look at what is happening in Germany you will see why the majority of european DOESN'T want Turkey in EU. As I said before Erdongan said to NOT assimilate to learn Turks before and after German...this happened and happening right now in Germany, 2nd and 3rd immigrants from Tukey still struggle in school, they seldom go to university and DOESN'T assimilate in Germany, if you ask them they will tell you that they are Turks not German, if you immigrate to a foreing country you MUST integrate you can't live in ghetto with your fellow countrymen (and here i'm speaking bout 2nd and 3rd generation).

Many Italians immigrate to Germany, they were ostracized, but their children and grnadchildren are fully integrate in the society i simply can't tell the same thing for Turks.

Wendy said...

CountryGirl ... What is full integration??? Canada's multiculturalism seems to work although comments coming from Germany and other European countries are getting some Canadians riled up. I think Germany was not very welcoming to the Turks in the beginning with having them do the work the Germans didn't want to do but not offering them the option to become German. I can understand it from an intellectual point of view maybe but Canada is a country made up of immigrants. I like that we have this rich flavour of cultures and religions living side by side and in relative harmony.

Oby, I did like the article you posted - Muslims vs. Islamists. My husband has often said that the translated versions of the Quran do not compute with the original.

Countrygirl said...

The main difference between Canada/USA and Europe is that the second generation immigrant consider himself/herself as a Canadia/American in Europe is different even the third generation immigrants from Turkey consider themselves as Turks their grades in school are the lowest. The Italians who emigrate in Germany weren't well treated as well but the second generation didn't have any problems.

Regarding citizenship for the german law non UE citizen can't have a dual citizenship so childrem of immigrant must decide...i don't see why a second or even worst a third generation shiouldn't opt to get a german citizenship, none is asking them to renounce their religion.

Wendy said...

The main difference between Canada and US immigrants is that new Canadians to Canada call themselves Canadians, not (fill in the blank)- Canadian. Apart from that Turkish students undoubtedly suffer because they are not wanted by Germans in general. Germany and other countries in the EU certainly have racist tendencies. It is okay when they emigrate to other countries but it's not okay when others who are different want to immigrate. The feeling of being shut out either mentally or physically certainly doesn't help to generate good will amongst anybody.

רעיה said...
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oby said...

Maybe Chiara or country girl can clarify this for me: I read the piece about Erdogan talking about Turks in Germany. I am not sure that I am seeing it any differently than immigrants who come to the USA and keep some of their native foods, holiday customs, speak the "mothertongue" at home with the elders etc. Heck we are part Polish and my family keeps some of those traditions alive and it has been many generations since anyone lived in Poland. My grandmother spoke fluent Polish with her neighbors. We see ourselves as 100% American but we haven't forgotten our ancestry. I am sure Chiara thinks of herself as 100% Canadian but has not forgotten her Italian heritage.

I think perhaps where the issue arises is that countries like USA and Canada are made of immigrants so the idea of a big mix of many types feels more normal to them since everyone is from somewhere else. But countries like Germany that have centuries of homoethnicity may find it a more difficult fit. I also think it depends on how you identify yourself. If you consider yourself "X" with overtones of your home country especially as successive generations come along then to me that is OK...but if you are in "X" country only for financial gain/freedom with no sense of being part of the country and try to create a mini "whatever country you came from" in the new country then that is an entirely different story. Then those people will not assimilate well. It is like me going to India (my husbands home country) and hanging with only Americans, eating only American food, listening only to American music, watching only American movies,etc etc.... how can I learn to appreciate and embrace the country I have adopted? It will not be a successful assimilation. I can still enjoy and hold on to some of my Americaness, but in order to be a successful immigrant I have to be open and accepting of the host culture.

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countrygirl said...

@Oby I will give you an example of different intergration in Germany. MAny Italians emigrated to Germany in the 50/60/70es and as Turks weren't well welcomed they did menial jobs (like turks) but the integrated well and their children and grandchildren speak fluent German and marry out their ethnics (and they still mantain some their traditions)...2nd and 3rd Turks still speak haltling german and they marry fellow turks and they still live in the same parts of cities. So we have italians and turks started at the same point but the italians fully integrated without problems turks no (and i wanted to stress again that both were discriminated when they arrived in Germany)

Wendy said...

רעיה ...I don't think anyone is upset with hijabis here.

An interesting note but not to do with Turkey. Do you see what the ultra orthadox Jews are doing to school children passing by their area dressed in normal clothing? Disgusting!!! All religions can be stupid.

On another note not on this topic - Al Jazeera TV is running a special 8 part series on slavery today around the world. This is the first week and each episode runs several times so if you're interested it might be a good watch.

רעיה said...
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oby said...

רעיה...

You're cracking me up. You are fixated on the hijabi thing when like Wendy said no one here has an issue with hijabis. I only brought it up to distinguish between a person who is more conservative and wears one and those who are not as conservative and chose not to wear one.

One choice is not more right than another. But the fact remains that those who are more conservative tend to wear hijab vs those who MIGHT BE AS PIOUS as hijabis and chose NOT to wear headcovering due to personal beliefs...those who are MOST conservative wear full abaya and niqab or full covering of some sort. I was trying to say full covering (abaya/niqab)is seen in the most conservative Muslims and no head covering in those least conservative in their outward expression. And IMO hijab becomes a problem when women feel OBLIGATED to wear it so they won't be judged by other Muslims as somehow "less muslim" if they don't wear it.

It isn't the hijab that the woman wears...it is the conservative pressure that is bought to bear that makes her feel that she must.

Wear a hijab...enjoy it...some of them are gorgeous...BUT don't make other women feel "less" muslim if they chose not to wear it. That is not fair to them. It is not up to a hijabi to judge another muslim that doesn't wear it...only God has the right to judge. He doesn't need human help.

Jay Kactuz said...

Quote: Allah SWT has revealed good guidance for muslims. & Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is a loving, merciful man.

רעיה, I think you need to read the Quran and hadith. Do you think I cannot find hundreds of verses in the Quran that denigrate non-Muslims? Don’t you know that the ahadith are full of stories of unprovoked attacks, plunder, murder, torture, enslavement of men women and children, rape of captives, wife beating and lies by your prophet? I will even use the same sources that you do. If you insist on playing “quote the verse” I will, with our Italian-Canadian hostess’s permission, oblige, otherwise just leave it.

Don’t worry about trampling on my “superior western modern virtues” because I can take it. I have no problem with a Muslim defending his/her opinion(s).

Also, the hijab does not bother me. In fact, it clearly signals the woman’s stand on morals. I can even admire their courage for that. The dress tells me that she stands with Islam and is proud of what Muslims do and have done and that she believes in the theology of Islam. Do you understand what I am saying? My question is why Muslim men have all these rules for women but exempt themselves from issues of dress, morality, marriage, and law that they require for the fairer sex.

My position is that a cloth in itself means nothing. Modesty is not the same as morality. A covering does not determine decency or integrity – it only means that more or less skin is visible and people understand this to be a sign of obedience to a set of religious or cultural values. Heck, I think I can convincingly argue that a nude woman can be morally superior to a hijabi. Try me if you doubt.

Jay Kactuz said...

רעיה, do you know what I did yesterday? I spend the evening trying to find and substantiate a quote I have seen hundreds of times on Islamic websites. Here it is…

"He who hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state, I am his adversary, and I shall be his adversary on the Day of a Judgement."

It is almost always attributed to Bukhari. If you Google that exact phrase, you will find it repeated thousands of times (as with the ‘e’ too!).

The problem is that it doesn’t sound right to me. The wording is off, if you know what I mean. It doesn’t sound like Bukhari. The historical aspect is also wrong – as far as I know, the concept of ‘citizen’ and the issue of “muslim state” are outside the life and history of Mohammad. More red flags. In all the sources listed in Goggle, none of the chapter or verse. Big red flags!!!!

Of course it could just be a matter of translation or of translation with an enhancement (very common).

I will give it a few more days of research before I declare it a good reference or not. Mind you, even the nicest, sweetest words mean nothing if you treat a people like dirt. A person can quote any text about love, peace and tolerance but that means nothing if not practiced.

Countrygirl said...

@רעיה As others said before me i have no problem with the hijab if it's the FREE choice of the woman who wears it, how can a be a free choice in a FIVE years olds, a FIVE YEARS child how can have a choice on what to wear. Another thing I see at the bus station some teenagers who wear the hiajb BUT they wear also skinny jeans...so can you explaion me concept of wearing the hijab for modesty.

What about the women who chose to NOT wear it but they are forced by bullying, peer pressure, whatever and this isn't happening in a muslim country but in France,Sweden,Norway,Uk?

I have a question for you. You keep on quoting passage where there's peace between muslim and not muslim but what DO YOU THINk about a muslim who decide to change religion?

רעיה said...
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רעיה said...
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רעיה said...
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Countrygirl said...

@רעיה You said that a child wearing a hijab is cute but i was talking about HER choice to wear it, when she is older will she able to have a choice to wear or NOT to wear it....the point is CHOICE not cutness. IF an ADULT WANTS to wear it fine with me BUT when if it is forced on a child or an adult it's not fine with me.

I went to the blog you mentioned but it's copy and paste from the koran, i asked YOUR opinion about the choice of the child and you answered that she is cute...i asked about the right to change religion maybe i didn't get your answer but you didn't answer and if i shuld stick to the koran a muslim who decide to change religion can be killed...

Wendy said...

CountryGirl ... I think that none of us give our wee children a major choice of clothing. I don't have an issue with a young muslim child wearing a hijab. It's part of her family life. I have issues when the child gets older and doesn't want to wear one or the other way around. We've had some sad incidents in Canada when teen girls go out of their house and remove the hijab and then get caught. That's what I object to.

On the subject of people Turks not assimilating in Germany - the Germans didn't open their arms to these people. They treated them as outsiders, guest workers and worse. Now why blame the Turks for keeping to their 'hood and not mixing. Germany will never welcome them as equals and the Turks look different so they will always stand out. My African husband when to school in Germany for a year or so and tells me lots of stories, some good but mostly bad, about being black in Germany. People need to welcome newcomers to their country first and foremost and also have respect for the people, their culture and religion. If this doesn't happen then multiculturalism will not work IMHO.

oby said...

רעיה...

I wanted to say I think there is a bit of a communication issue here between us. I have the feeling that you think I was aiming the Hijab comments to you personally. Please understand that is not the case. When I was saying a Muslim who wears hijab should not judge another who doesn't I am NOT referring to you personally. I mean in the broader sense that ANY hijabi should not judge. You may not do that and I would admire you if you didn't. Please look at my comments in the broader context. For all I know you may be the most NONjudgemental hijabi out there.

oby said...

I do agree to a degree with country girl about kids in hijab. Covering of oneself is supposed to occur when a female reaches sexual maturity. It is to shield her from men's eyes and to indicate modesty. To put a young prepubescent girl in hijab feels to me a little bit like mom's who paint up their 5 year olds and put them in beauty pagents. IMHO, both are ways of sexualizing girls (or indicating they are capable of arousing sexual thoughts in men) and both are inappropriate for a young child. Different flavor, but both with overtones of sexuality. Young girls should be free to be young little girls.

רעיה said...
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oby said...

רעיה...

I tried to clear up the miscommunication between us..I told you specifically I was not talking about you. You either are not understanding what I am saying due to language issues or you are choosing to be offended. We have a right to our opinion as you have a right to yours. No one is monstering on you. It is unfortunate that you chose to feel that way.

It is also unfortunate that you look at it as a contest between west and east. I said it is fine to be conservative as long as those who are conservative don't try to force their conservativeness on the non conservatives and leave room for everyone to be who they are. I ALSO said (if you go back and read my post) that it is not OK for a woman who doesn't wear hijab to judge a woman who does. That means that the non conservative must leave room for the conservative...it is a two way street.

So if you and other hijabis have no problems with that then I don't see why you would feel we were talking about you. It is about making room in the world for everyone. Having a "live and let live" attitude.

Susanne said...

Interesting post! I've been curious about Turkey especially as I've seen it (try to?) get involved in Syria the last couple of months. Erdogan was a friend of Assad so I'm sure this has been a difficult time for him.

My Syrian friend had two Turks in his international Master's degree program in Germany. Both hated the way Turkey was headed and the girl said she would assassinate Erdogan if she could because of the increase of outward religiosity he has brought. She considers herself Muslim, by the way. The male doesn't necessarily. He considers himself Alawait and Kurdish although it is his mother who is Kurdish and not his father (Turkish.)

Wendy said...

רעיה...
Sorry to tell you this but we are not talking about you. We are talking about issues.

Jay Kactuz said...

Speaking of Turkey, I don't know how I forgot this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPFjToKuZQM&feature=related

A great song and fair. It respects both the living and dead, both Turk and Aussie. Certainly a great statement about the futility and wastefulness of war, most wars. Note that the Turks fought well - They won.

I am in awe of the words and music, mixed in a message that is vibrant and poignant at the same time.

Gallipoli was certainly not one of Churchills great moments.

Jay Kactuz said...

Let me try to embed it...

http://youtu.be/GPFjToKuZQM


What the heck, why not this, too...

http://youtu.be/CXasKlTsjf8

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