Thursday, June 30, 2016

Angry Boys and Moderate Murderers

The events outpace us. Before we can deliberate on Turkish-Israeli deal, Erdogan (HL) caved in under economic pressure and apologized to Russia's Putin which opened the door to restoration of all relations while 3 suicide bombers wreaked havoc in Istanbul Ataturk Airport, killing 44, wounding hundreds.

Amidst all this chaos, many cities that thrive on tourism, especially Antalya,  have been eagerly waiting for the return of the Russian tourists. That, however, may not be possible soon as Russian PM Medvedev pointed out:

"At the height of the tourist season, a relevant topic is the lifting of bans on charter flights and recommendations for Russian tourists not to travel [to Turkey]. Here, it is very important to obtain additional guarantees from the Turkish authorities that effective measures are being taken to ensure the safety of our travelers, especially in light of the recent tragic events in Istanbul."

But is it possible to create a reasonably safe environment for Russians in Turkey any more? The problem is two-fold:
  1. Turkey's ruling Islamists have never seen ISIS for what they are and this myopic look has resulted in thousands of sleeping terrorist cells of angry boys. This is ex Foreign Minister Davutoglu, in an interview on news channel NTV in August, 2014:

    "The structure called ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the previous name of the IS], at its core, could be viewed as a terrorist radical group, but people have joined it ... and there are significant numbers of Turkmens, Sunni Arabs, Kurds... we should understand it like this. Previous discontent, anger, discrimination and insults gave birth to a broad reaction."

    He blamed the violent behavior of Islamic State (IS) militants on those who excluded Sunni Arabs from society, saying that the marginalization had led to an accumulation of anger.
  2. Then, we have the so-called moderate jihadis, who were groomed to fight Syria's Esad. Thousands of young people, Turkish and foreign, have been passively pushed to joining the ranks of these moderate murderers by Erdogan (HL) and company while the national intelligence  agency (MIT) illegaly providing logistics services for them including all kinds of weapons and ammunition. In their delusional state, the Islamist elite dreamed of praying with their Sunni brethren in Umayyad Mosque within a couple of months:

    "But we will go there in the shortest possible time, if Allah wills it; and embrace our brothers. That day is close. We will pray near the grave of Salahaddin Ayyubi and pray in the Umayyad Mosque. We will pray for our brotherhood freely in Hejaz Railway Station."

    Once said ex PM Erdogan, speaking at an extended group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), held at the party's headquarters in September, 2012. 
Alperenler drafting ceremony
 So, one can never be certain that effective measures will be taken against the angry boys. To make matters worse, no measures can be taken against the moderate murderers at all, they are the local brew of the pub. And both of these groups have been engaging Russians in Syria. Hence, even if the Russian jet had not been shot down, providing safety for Russian tourists day in day out would have been a risky proposition. It certainly is a huge challenge now.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why did We Eat It?

Turkey and Israel have decided to normalize relations, ending a 6-year dispute with 10 Turkish activists dead. In summary:
  • Turkey gains a privileged role in Gaza's economic development and a lessening of its isolation in a deeply troubled region.
  • Israel sees an end to its practical difficulties with Turkey and gets assurances about future Hamas activity on Turkish soil.
  • There could also be important economic benefits to both countries in terms of the energy sector and tourism.
 This all means they are exactly where they were 6 years ago. Since it is next to impossible to understand how Turkish leaders make policy (I do have an explanation for this particular one but need more data to draft a beautiful conspiracy theory of my own), it is best to describe the final agreement with a short story:

One day, a rich farmer was going to downtown with his servant. He sit on his comfortable carriage rode by a beautiful horse and the servant on foot, they hit the road early to run a few errands. They saw a pile of fresh shit on the road and the wicked master decided to make fun of his poor servant:

"If you eat that shit, the carriage and the horse will be yours and I'm going to walk instead of you."

The poor servant looked at the carriage and the horse and then the pile of shit. He always hated this man. So, he decided to accept the challenge and despite the smell and disgusting taste, he managed to eat it. And on they went, roles reversed.

Soon, the poor servant was angry with himself. He could not look after a horse nor maintain a carriage. The farmer, on the other hand, could buy a new horse and a carriage anytime he wanted. "I ate that shit for nothing," he thought.
The farmer was also upset. "I lost a horse and carriage for a piece of shit," he contemplated.

On the way back, noticing another pile of recently produced shit gave them both the opportunity they sought. "Master," said the servant,

"Eat that shit and you can have your carriage and horse back."

The farmer jumped to the occasion, swallowed it quickly and got on his carriage again.

Approaching their village, the poor servant asked his master,

"On the way to town, you owned the carriage and the horse and I was on foot. Now, here we are, back where we started, you still own them and I'm still on foot. So, tell me master of mine, why did we eat that shit?"

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sultan's Uniformed Dervishes

The sultan dislikes many things. He dislikes education, free-thinkers, people of other religions but his, women, you name it. It was certainly not unexpected he disliked LGBTI, too. So, his governor, a humble servant of the public, despite the previous marches had been uneventful, banned the Pride march to be held 19-26 June, citing following excuse(s):

The organization of a meeting and demonstration march on the mentioned dates will not be allowed by our governorate for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants’ and for public order. The venues for such events have previously been announced by law. We ask our valuable Istanbul residents to not heed such calls and to help the Security Forces by following their warnings and announce it to the public with respect.

To make a long story short, the march was canceled but LGBTI members decided to issue a press release. They really should not have done that. It upset the sultan and made his empty stomach sour. "All they need is discipline," he thought and sent his uniformed dervishes. Below, you see those thugs spreading their gaseous love while shaking their sticks for peace; alternately, you can view the videos of those disgraceful attacks including but not limited to firing rubber bullets, i.e. the whole shebang here.

 Here is an excerpt from press release of Trans Pride March which I wholeheartedly agree:

This argument that began with the excuse of disrespect for the month of Ramadan shows us where those who are not Turkish, Muslim, Sunni and male will stand in this nonsensical New Turkey. This sensibility that imposes their own norm on the totality of society and target those who do not abide by this norm will bring nothing but a massacre for the Kurds, Alevis (Alewites)*, Armenians, Greeks, Roma, LGBTIs, women, laborers and workers.

* Addition mine; as Alewite is the more common name used.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Decline of Academic Freedom in Turkey

The number of incidents involving academics resulting in imprisonment, loss of position, prosecution, travel restrictions, violence and other types of threats are increasing at an alarming rate in Turkey.

Erdogan depicted by NYT
Lately, Prof. Dr. Zeynep Sayin Balikcioglu was dismissed from her position at Bilgi University for criticising Turkey's over-sensitive (Thousands of people have been charged for insulting him) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a lecture. She argued about the increasing rudeness and vulgarity and Pres. Erdogan was at the center of this trend. Tragically, a student secretly recorded these remarks and made a complaint to rector's office. Even more tragically, she was immediately dismissed by the management on June 16,  with the following public statement:

We want to inform the public about Prof. Dr. Zeynep Sayin Balikcioglu, who insulted our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a lecture on June 15, 2016, which was also mentioned on social media. … She was dismissed immediately after our rector’s office found out about the incident. Our rector’s office also immediately gave instructions to analyze the incident and launch the necessary legal investigations about it.

It is really sad to see these kind of people who cave in against corrupt power so easily manage universities (if you can call such an institution a university). Prof.  Christoph K. Neumann apparently agrees with me as he resigned right away from his post:

It does not comply with the existence of academic freedoms to dismiss Professor Zeynep for expressing her ideas during lectures with no questions asked.
An institution without those freedoms cannot be called a university. It is your responsibility to find an appropriate name for that institution, but Bilgi is no longer a university. In this sense, Bilgi University does not exist anymore.

I cannot agree more. I invite everyone to re-align their relations with Bilgi University accordingly.

Just before I post this, I have learned another academic, Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci was placed in detention, standing accused of making terrorist propaganda.

You can find all incidents involving scholars so far here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

America Confused After Orlando LGBT Attack

The barbaric attack to LGBT community at a bar in Orlando was probably the saddest news of the month. Yet, I resisted the temptation to write about it soon after the incident; later, we often regret what we say in the heat of the moment.

The mass shooting by a so called Muslim lone wolf dazed and confused everybody including the candidates for the president in the USA. Great ideas follow one another from not allowing Muslims into the country to beliefs (religions) should not be judged. As your fellow atheist living in a Muslim country, maybe I can shed some light into this mess.

Is Islam the root of this evil act?

Yes, there is no doubt about it. And it should be criticized and shamed at all platforms, non-stop. Islam should change and it can change.

Should you blame American Muslim communities/immigrants?

Absolutely, no! For two reasons if nothing less:
  1. More often than not, they were once victims, as well. They had probably left their home country because of bigotry and oppression. They knew what America was before they arrived and they have been genuinely trying to make peace with American and liberal (if I may say so) values.
  2. They are a minority and like all minorities, if they want to exist, they will stretch their values unlike their brothers and sisters living in predominantly Muslim countries. 
So, you have Muslims, mostly immigrants who had witnessed bigotry and oppression first hand and are open to change. Otherwise, how can you explain this photo?
Gay imam performs same-sex marriages

 Where else but USA can you see it, especially in Muslim countries? Don't lose it as this is the heart and soul of America.

My deepest feelings for the LGBT communities who suffered more than enough.