Thursday, June 29, 2006

Look, what will happen to Istanbul taxis (!)

Just because they have them doesn't mean they will use them:

"According to new regulations issued by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, all taxis in Istanbul will have to be equipped with air-conditioning, airbags, and GPS (Global Positioning System) by the end of 2007, or else they will be banned from taxi work.Of the 18,000 taxis currently operating in Istanbul, 11,000 are still without air-conditioning. The new regulations are intended to bring Istanbul into line with regulations in European Union countries..."
Metroblogging Istanbul: Look, what will happen to Istanbul taxis (!)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


"I can curse but I won’t. But I can’t help saying that in 1915 the Turks massacred the Armenians and do not accept it. I can't help saying that Turkey has occupied part of Cyprus”, announced Danish deputy Run Lyund after the speech of the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan who considered certain restrictions of the freedom of speech normal.

According to Erdogan, there are sacred values – national, religious and others stirring of which causes terrorism. Erdogan considered the fuss and mass rallies in connection with the caricatures of prophet Mohammad natural. According to him, there is growing tension between the West and the Islamic world. Erdogan called on Europe to take into account the fact that 10-15% of the population of the European capitals is Turks and their rights must be respected."
ERDOGAN’S GOD WOULD NOT HAVE ALLOWED // Armenian News Online • A1 Armenia

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Separating religion and government

"Eric Edelman, the undersecretary of defense for policy and the ambassador to Ankara from 2003 to 2005, displayed a perfect understanding of Turkey's history and current challenges during a speech at the Washington Institute last week. Mr. Edelman discussed the legacies of the founding Turkish leaders Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Ismet Inonu and Turgut Ozal. "[T]he nation's strength remains in its strong founding principles, which still hold true decades later," he said. "Turkey can proudly look back on a great heritage for guidance in today's world: Kemal Ataturk's vision of a modernized Turkey anchored in the West; Ismet Inonu's commitment to carrying out democratization; and Turgut Ozal, whose courageous leadership during critical times made decisions that restored multiparty democracy, opened the economy, and positioned Turkey as a reliable ally committed to working with partners and friends on a shared vision for a better future."

"Obviously, the United States needed an example of secular democracy to show to the countries whose regimes it wanted to change. But there's no road map to bring democracy to the Middle East. The democracy Ataturk built in Turkey contradicts James Madison's vision of religious freedom. "Because it will destroy that moderation and harmony which the forbearance of our laws to intermeddle with Religion has produced among its several sects," Madison wrote in 1785. "Torrents of blood have been split in the old world, by vain attempts of the secular arm, to extinguish religious discord, by proscribing all difference in religious opinion. Time has at length revealed the true remedy. Every relaxation of narrow and rigorous policy, wherever it has been tried, has been found to assuage the disease."

"That is Turkey's fear. Islamists don't believe in separating religious and governmental affairs, so Islam is their guide to every walk of life. With the number of women wearing headscarves and the hijab at an all-time high in Turkey, it's clear the country is failing to preserve the secularism it was founded on eight decades ago. If the state is threatened, America will have failed as well. And in the midst of these concerns, one can only hope that the United States knows where and how to keep Turkey if the talks with Tehran do not prevail to any desirable ending. Therefore, Mr. Edelman's speech should stand as the right way to talk about Turkey, its relations with the United States and the future."
Separating religion and government�-�Editorials/Op-Ed�-�The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Saudi religious police detain Turkish air stewardess

Now this is how you make people comply with your rules:

"Two Turkish air stewards, one male and the other female, working on a Fly Air plane rented by Saudi Arabian Airlines, were taken into detention by the religious police after they entered the family area of a restaurant in Riyadh. An unnamed air stewardess and a male member of the cabin crew entered a restaurant opposite their hotel and sat in the family area, minutes later they were detained after the Saudi Arabian religious police (Mutawwa), entered the restaurant.

Asked if they were married
The two young Turks were immediately arrested when they replied, “No” when asked whether or not they were married. They were released eight and a half hours later, with the intervention of Fly Air and the Ambassador to Turkey in Riyadh."
H�rriyet - Saudi religious police detain Turkish air stewardess

Friday, June 23, 2006

I have eaten hundreds of shish kebabs in Turkey over the years

I have eaten hundreds of shish kebabs in Turkey over the years: "I have eaten hundreds of shish kebabs in Turkey over the years - they are great - however, I would take this warning serious even it was said in fun.

A frantic search has been under way for a python missing from the Ankara Zoo, even as a cabinet minister suggested the snake may already have passed through a kebab merchant’s meat grinder.

“I advise citizens not to eat shish kebab until the python is found,” he said, presumably tongue-in-cheek. "

Thursday, June 22, 2006


"In a bid to stop violence including so-called 'honour' crimes against women, the Turkish government's religious affairs department has commissioned a team of Islamic scholars to compile what they consider are the Prophet Mohammed's true teachings on women and gender equality. The government hopes less well educated Turks will refer to its book - entitled Mohammed's Messages to the Contemporary World - instead of fallacious statements attributed to Mohammed published by extremist religious publishers telling Muslims to scorn and humiliate women, said religious affairs department president, Ali Bardakoglu."


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Religious high school graduate translated Bible into Kurdish

"After working as a muezzin, changing his religion and becoming a Christian, vocational religious high school graduate Resul Yıldırım has now published a translation of the Bible into Kurdish.

Resul YIldIrIm first became a muezzin after graduating from a vocational religious high school. In 1987, he went to Germany and became Christian. Later, he made an agreement with a publishing house to publish the Bible in Kurdish which he translated himself over 14 years.

The Kurdish Bible is being sold for 3 YTL and has become quite popular in the Southern East of Turkey. The publishing house is refusing to reveal the financial source of the Bibles which is being distributed for 3YTL. It has been stated that YIldIrIm plans to also publish translations of the Book of Psalms and the Torah."

SABAH Newspaper English Edition - National - Religious high school graduate translated Bible into Kurdish

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Teaching tolerance in Turkey

Interesting that there is a Muslim organization that gives free vacations to Turkey just so people can learn about the people and Islam:

"Norman Police Chief Phil Cotten has a new appreciation for the quest for peace, after 10 days of total immersion in Turkey's rich history and traditions.

Cotten was one of several Oklahomans invited on a special sojourn to Turkey in early June, courtesy of the Institute of Interfaith Dialog."

"In my opinion, the goal was for us to come back with a very deep appreciation for Turkey and Turkish people and the real true Islam beliefs," Cotten said. "They are very loving and caring people."
The Norman Transcript - Teaching tolerance in Turkey

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Piglet keeps Pooh off the air

Pigs are bad!

"TURKEY'S public television TRT, controlled by the Islamist-rooted government, has barred the popular Walt Disney cartoon Winnie the Pooh from air because it has a piglet as one of its main heroes, the Turkish press reported today.

Several other cartoons featuring pigs also failed to win the green light from TRT management, according to the left-wing Cumhuriyet daily.

The station initially considered scissoring the scenes showing Piglet, but abandoned the idea because the small pink-skinned character, one of Winnie the Pooh's closest friends, appeared too often, Cumhuriyet and the mass-circulation Sabah newspaper said."

Piglet keeps Pooh off air | | The Australian

Thursday, June 15, 2006


If you've ever been in Uskudar during the ezan, you know what they mean:

"The ezan, the traditional Islamic call to player, rings out five times a day in scenic Kaleici from all of the rustic Turkish town's five mosques - a mixture of chants that scare tourists away, hoteliers say. Situated between the yacht harbour and the main city of Antalya, on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, Kaleici, with its historic Turkish and Greek houses is becoming increasingly popular with foreign tourists. But hotel owners fear that the growth in business they are experiencing could be stunted by jarring ezans.
"The ezan sounds beautiful on its own, when one imam's ezan gets mixed up with the other imams', it loses its beauty and causes disruption," according to one hotel owner.

The gripe he and others have is that the imams start reading their ezans with a time difference that varies from several seconds to a minute, and also read them at different tones and pitches, all of which leads to an indistinguishable cacophony. "The result startles and confuses the tourists, making them uncomfortable - especially when it's five times a day," the hotel owner says."

Majority of Turks Oppose Hijab Ban

"The majority of Turks are satisfied with the performance of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government and are opposed to the official ban on hijab in public offices and universities, according to a poll published on Wednesday, June 14.

The poll, conducted by Isik and Sabanci universities in Istanbul, found that two thirds of the 1,846 people polled in more than 20 towns and cities support Erdogan's efforts to ease hijab ban on students and civil servants, Reuters reported.

The mainly Muslim country of 72 million has a strongly secular political tradition.

In 1997, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer issued a decree banning hijab in state-run institutions, including schools and universities.

Hijab-donned women were also banned from frequenting any social clubs affiliated to the military institution.

Even veiled journalists have been repeatedly prevented from covering news conferences inside government institutions.

Many in Turkey's military, academic and judicial establishment view this ban as a key pillar of Turkey's secular order.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations." - News

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Turkish man shoots raped teenage sister in 'honour killing'

Turkey is actively working to put an end to this kind of thing, but it is a reminder of the lack of "grace" in the majority religion:

"A Turkish man dragged his teenage sister into the street and shot her in the head after learning that she was raped, Turkish press reported today.

Such incidents are not uncommon in the country, where killings under similar circumstances are considered “honour crimes”.

The girl, reported to be either 17 or 18 years old, was said to be alive but likely in a vegetative state, the daily newspaper Vatan reported.

Her mother was visited by members of Turkey’s Honour Killings Commission, which has been struggling to stop such murders, and explained what happened to reporters from the Vatan and Hurriyet newspapers."
Turkish man shoots raped teenage sister in 'honour killing'

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Christians in the Middle East face persecution, pushed to the periphery - Catholic Online

"Even in Turkey, a country often lauded as a model of moderate Islam – to the extent that it is currently seeking European Union membership – Christians endure the wrath of angry Islamists. Rev. Andrea Santoro, an Italian missionary, was shot dead as he prayed in his parish church in the Black Sea port city of Trabzon. A teenage gunman angered by the cartoons screamed “Allah-u-Akhbar” (“God is great”) as he fired two shots from close range at the 61-year-old priest.

The reaction of the pope’s representative in Anatolia to Father Santoro’s killing, however, suggests that the anti-Christian violence was about much more than the cartoons. Bishop Luigi Padovese argues that rising Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Christian prejudice in the Muslim world shaped the context for the teenager’s crime.

“There’s a strong current of religious extremism, and that climate can fuel this sort of hatred. It is passed along in families, in schools, in the newspapers.” He added that areas of Turkey are now “completely Islamified, where it is dangerous to be a Christian.” The result, he said, is that Turkey’s small Christian population has dwindled from several million to 70,000 since the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of world War I."
Christians in the Middle East face persecution, pushed to the periphery - Catholic Online

Thursday, June 08, 2006

'He had a heart for the world'

Short biography of a former worker here:

"Finding out he had brain cancer came almost as a relief to Erik Steffen, for only then did he know what was causing his terrible headaches.

Mr. Steffen, 35, Indianapolis, had been having increasingly intense headaches leading up to Christmas Day 2004, when he went to the emergency room. An examination revealed his condition.
The diagnosis didn't change his outlook on life, Kelly Steffen said of her husband, who died Saturday. "His goal in life was to love God more and people more. That was the most important thing for him."

"In earlier stints with Campus Crusade, Mr. Steffen spent time in places such as Turkey and Kosovo. In recent years, he had worked from the organization's Indianapolis office, offering support to missionary teams.
David Lootens, the organization's regional director of the Great Lakes Region, recalled meeting Mr. Steffen in Turkey in 1993. Mr. Steffen arrived full of energy and learned Turkish quickly."
'He had a heart for the world' |

Monday, June 05, 2006

Global Day of Prayer

Sunday was the Global Day of Prayer. Believers all over Turkey gathered together to join the world in prayer.
  Posted by Picasa

Turkish Judge's Murder Fuels Religious Feud, Weakens Government

"The murder of a senior judge is reigniting a religious dispute in Turkey and undermining support for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government before elections next year."

" President Ahmet Necdet Sezer blamed the attack on Islamic extremists and accused Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party of fanning unrest by backing fewer curbs on headscarves. The dispute helped push the lira down 16 percent against the dollar last month on concern a religious feud would hamper Turkey's chances of joining the European Union. The benchmark stock index slid 12 percent in the week after the attack.

``The killing is possibly part of a very big power struggle between reform-minded and more statist, authoritarian tendencies,'' said Soli Ozel, a political scientist at Bilgi University in Istanbul. ``This kind of polarization is not good for the country, and it threatens to pull Turkey off course." Europe

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Beyond the Call of Duty

Friends here in Istanbul have been working diligently to open an American Indian cultural center and cafe. They have poured months of hard work and thousands of dollars into the location they have selected. It is a nice little corner in a good location. Here is a picture of the almost finished entrance:

As Christians, they have done their best to do everything as legal as they possibly could with the local government. They have had a difficult time, but in recent days they had been assured that they were only a few minor changes away from clearing inspection. They were told last week to not be present at the building and the local government would come and inspect it. The next day this is what my friends found:

The local government officials came with sledgehammer and saws and destroyed all of their work. They did everything in their power to make the space completely unusable. When our friends tried to file a report with the police, they were told nothing would be done, because it was all done by the local government.

Pray for these dear people who have suffered through this. Praise God no one was hurt! Also, pray for the juvenile delinquents posing as government officials that run this supposedly "free" republic. This is ridiculous!
Tribe and Nation

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Fuss Over 'Fez' Hat As Christians and Secularists Look To EU (BosNewsLife In-Depth) | Turkey | Europe

"The cylindrical 'fez' hat, with its dangling black tassel, provokes feelings of resentment, humiliation and grim memories of repression among many proud, nationalistic Turks."

"Welcome to Turkey, physically split between Europe and Asia by the Bosphorus Strait which now hosts expensive real estate along its shores amid seafood restaurants, a modern art museum, and lovingly restored mansions.

This East-meets-West crossroads hopes to join the European Union. Turkey's new generation is becoming increasingly hip and globalized. Islam competes to survive. Young foreign tourists boast to awe-struck Turks about beer bongs and Western girls, but someone discreetly clicks off the radio's rock music when the neighborhood mosque's muezzin calls faithful Muslims to prayer via minaret-mounted electric loudspeakers."

"Ataturk's secularist cultural revolution banned the fez, the Whirling Dervishes, and other behavior he perceived as Islamic fundamentalism, backward rituals, and other hurdles to liberation. Today, belly-dancers and less risqué entertainers add "Ottoman cuisine" to their live shows, to attract tourists.

Hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops include the title "sultan" in their name to create a bit of exoticism. But a simmering bloody struggle, between Islamists and secularists, vexes Turkish society and often kills people on both sides.

Perceived as pro-Western by Muslim militants, and definitely not wearing fezzes, Turkey's minority Christians seem often in the crossfire-- especially in areas far removed from major cities such as Istanbul. "We need peace more than anything at the moment and prayers," said Isa Dogdu, a theological teacher at the Syrian Orthodox Church in the medieval city of Midyat, about 150 kilometers (94 miles) north of Silopi a border town near Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq."


His church is the main denomination of local Christians, also known as 'Syriac people,' aChristians in Turkey try to survive amid a fight between secularists and Islamic fundamentalists. reference to the dialect they speak. It has close ties with roughly 750,000 fellow believers across the border in Iraq who mainly belong to the Assyrian Church of the East with its spiritual centre in Nineveh, now Mosul, where the Bible says Prophet Jonah brought the message of repentance.

They speak Syriac, based on the Aramaic language which Jesus Christ is believed to have spoken. But it's not a tradition that has been welcomed by Islamic groups fighting against what they see as the growing influence of "Christian" America and "secularism" in the region.

In the last decade up to 30 Christians, including some women and children, were murdered in Turkey's border region, local Christians told BosNewsLife. Other families have been threatened by a variety of Islamic groups, including the radical 'PKK'-group that is fighting for an independent Kurdistan in Turkey and Northern Iraq, BosNewsLife established.

In addition Christians have been threatened and attacked by the militant Hizbullah organization, which fought the PKK, as well as village guards and Turkish security forces."
LETTER FROM TURKEY: Fuss Over 'Fez' Hat As Christians and Secularists Look To EU (BosNewsLife In-Depth) | Turkey | Europe

Turkish PM accused of undermining secularism

"Turkey’s leading businessmen have launched a fierce attack on the government, accusing it of undermining the country’s secular traditions and of losing interest in joining the European Union."

"In Friday’s unusually pointed broadside that will have wide political repercussions, they said the government, which has its roots in political Islam, was eroding Turkey’s prestige by pursuing a religious agenda and other policies that had raised doubts about their commitment to reforms and to upholding the independence of institutions.

The criticism is a clear sign of the extent to which Turkish business leaders have lost confidence in the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The prime minister, who is increasingly on the defensive domestically, has had rows with business before. But political observers said Friday’s comments were the sharpest since the government was elected in late 2002.

Turkish stocks and the lira have tumbled in recent weeks as part of a sell-off in emerging markets. But Omer Sabanci, chairman of Tusiad, Turkey’s influential big-business lobby, said the rout had been worsened by waning confidence in the government and in the sincerity of its reform drive.

“Rather than talking about reforms we talk about religious issues,” he said, voicing a sentiment widely shared among secular Turks. “The rising prestige of Turkey over the past three years is starting to be eroded” because “market confidence in its political stability and the sustainability of reforms has been shaken,” he said." / Europe / Brussels briefing - Turkish PM accused of undermining secularism

Friday, June 02, 2006

How Does the American Elite View Religious Muslims?

"A large majority of the Western elite, the children of the Enlightenment, are actually secularists, and fearful of all kinds of religions. Although those in the United States have a more religious understanding of secularism or are more respectful towards religion than those in Europe, the end result is not so different, especially when it comes to Islam... What's interesting is that, even the Western religious elite, who try to consolidate efforts against the secularists in their own countries, generally act like secularists regarding Islam and religious Muslims. For instance, some missionary groups operating in Turkey support Turkish civil society organizations for which secularism means treating Islam like an enemy. Most religious Westerners consider Islam a threat to their religion, whereas for non-religious Westerners it is a threat to their world, that is, to their secular lifestyle."

"In short, what lies behind the thinking of a big part of the Western and American elite who believe in reports which portray Muslims as fanatics without questioning, is the secular and religious prejudices fed by Islamophobia and ignorance. If only both religious Muslims and Westerners could realize how much in fact they need each other to work against radical interpretations of religion and secularism..."


Thursday, June 01, 2006


This tourism video has been out for years, it is interesting that it is becoming controversial now. I wonder if this is a reflex to all of the Muhammad cariacture hubbub:

"The shots from the Turkish video clip have been “walking” by the World Network three days and have already been titled “Dervishes’ Dance on the Christ’s Image”. According to the Yerkramas newspaper of the Russian Armenians, in St. Petersburg the Armenian activists are going to institute legal proceedings against a Turkish agency circulating cadres, which are offensive for Christians: the Christian cultural monuments on the territory of modern Turkey are presented as cities that have sunk, where only mermaids swim, while the image of Jesus Christ has turned into a dance hall.
Such provocative video clips can hardly be considered just a commercial subterfuge. Too little time has elapsed since a scandal caused by Danish caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad, so one is inclined to believe in obvious premeditation of the step undertaken by Turks to artificially foment interreligious passions. Turkey, which is doing its best to position itself as a secular state that observes ethnical minorities’ rights, evidently cannot be considered a civilized country, for even commercial interests are unable to conceal political and expansionist ones. The Christian cultural monuments, on which the heirs of nomads perform ritual dances, testify to the fact that the very nomads that have arrogated to themselves the invaluable monuments of the world history pretending to be the region’s autochthon population are unworthy of such legacy and can just spoil and destroy it. It is quite symbolic that Armenians have been the first to make those who committed sacrilege responsible via litigation – without mentioning other factors, the wound and pain of the deprivation of thousands of the Jugha khachkars destroyed by Turkish vandals is still with us. And yet, if political interests hampered the Christian world’s consolidation in the issue referring to khachkars, perhaps, this time the blasphemous cadres will make Christians rebuff the provocateurs stirring up interreligious rows and setting the representatives of various confessions against each other?"