Posts Tagged Turkey

Al-Jabba, or a silly tale from Austria

Al-Jabba, or a silly tale from Austria

First of all, a belated Happy New Year to all of you who might be reading this. To explain my not writing anything for months, I blame a combination of winter writing malaise, real life and there being just so many stories to potentially write about – so many in fact that one ends up not writing anything at all.

2013 begins with a silly story coming from Austria – or rather a group that calls itself The Turkish Cultural Community of Austria (Die Türkische Kulturgemeinde in Österreich) – where toy manufacturer Lego has been accused of “inciting racial hatred and insulting human dignity” (yes, that old chestnut) with its release of a Star Wars series model of Jabba the Hutt’s palace. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sophistry Corner: What a Turkey

Sophistry Corner: What a Turkey

A Sophistry Corner special today featuring one of Europe’s favourite people, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Clearly the man believes that integration of Turks in Germany means more Turkish schools, more Islamic “education centres”, more Saturn V minarets and “honour killings” being incorporated into the Grundgesetz. Well, anything but Turks making an effort themselves and speaking the language of the country in which they choose to live. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Personal responsibility

It really does irk me every time I read or hear about some story where someone has taken an unnecessary risk and as a result has come a cropper, only for a cavalcade of people to empathise with them. It irks me even more that when I point out the obvious fact that taking risks exposes one to additional danger, I am often accused of suggesting that the victim somehow “deserved” it.

In the clear and objective light of day such this accusation is, of course, abject nonsense; more than it being a case of my being callous and unfeeling, it is a simple matter of people not having any idea on what constitutes personal responsibility. What next, suggesting that a person who walks out on the streets of South London with a sign on his back saying “I have a mobile ‘phone and a hundred quid, please mug me” is simply unfortunate?

A story in case is that of the Italian hitchhiker and “world peace” activist murdered in Turkey, discussed here; it is clear that while this woman didn’t “deserve” to be murdered – nobody in their right mind would suggest that – it is pretty bloody obvious that she was taking an unnecessary and dare I say it stupid risk in trapsing around an Islamic country dressed as a bride.

The same applies to drug (ab)users – in a post on a popular bulletin board I (perhaps rather callously) described the death of former children’s television presenter Mark Speight as being “no great loss” – on account of the fact that he was a useless druggie who was out of his head on a cocktail of illegal substances while his fiancée – also a useless druggie – was boiling to death in the bath at the time. I was taken to task for showing a distinct lack of empathy, but I ask you – who in hell can empthaise with such a waster, and worse still, a waster who then chose to take his own life because he couldn’t face up to the fact that were it not for his and his fianceé’s nasty, sordid habit, they would both be very much alive today?

It’s as if nobody has any personal responsibility for their actions any more, and that somebody else – society, the weather, the neighbour’s dog – is somehow to blame. And that the rest of us should be welling up and feeling sorry.

Well, no.

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