A Turkey is not just for Christmas…

A Turkey is not just for Christmas...

…Or the European Union.

I have been to Turkey. Well, OK, Istanbul – the European part of the country. I spent three days there at the end of the first part of what was an epic rail journey from Prague back in 1993, and thoroughly enjoyed my stay. The people were friendly and hospitable, and the city was interesting and rich with history.

While I can honestly say that I enjoyed every second of my time in Istanbul – from sipping apple tea in one of the many outdoor cafes through to venturing in the exotic Kapalıçarşı or Grand Bazaar, it was always clear to me that this bustling, energetic city was not at all representative of the country as a whole, which stretches as far east as the borders of Iraq and Iran. It was also clear to me that the attitudes of the people of Istanbul – modern, secular, westward-looking – were far removed from those of their compatriots in the east of the country – dogmatically Islamic, backward, and almost mediaeval.

To many Europeans who may have visited the country their idea of Turkey is Istanbul, or perhaps that friendly Mediterranean holiday resort; the horrible truth however is that it is also the home of the sort of stone-age barbarians who would bury a teenage girl alive for the “crime” of talking to boys.

As mentioned in the article, official figures reveal that these so-called “honour killings” make up around half of the all murders in Turkey; given my general distrust of official figures, this percentage is likely to be far higher than we would like to believe. While there is much good to say about Kemal Atatürk’s efforts to secularise Turkey in the first quarter of the last century, it remains that much of the country’s eastern regions have kept a very firm hold of their Ottoman backwardness: it is true to say that everyday life in Eastern Turkey has more in common with the Middle East than Mitteleuropa.

Those that believe that Turkey can somehow overcome this innate backwardness and be integrated with the rest of Europe are living in a distant fantasy land; the country is not part of Europe, and will never be European. To even consider that it be welcomed in the European Union is a truly dangerous idea.

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