Ritual Opposition

National rituals have always been charged ideological sites, but now that Turkey is rife with competing rituals (choose either National Youth Day or Holy Birth Week; they’re at the same time), the strife has reached epic proportions. The Ankara governorship has banned the celebration of October 29 Republic Day rituals celebrating the republic’s founding, it’s […]

The Sledgehammer Descends: More Than 300 Officers Sentenced to Prison

On September 21 a court in Istanbul has sentenced three retired generals to life imprisonment in the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer), then reduced the sentence to 20 years. Air Force Cmdr. retired Gen. İbrahim Fırtına, retired 1st Army Cmdr. Gen. Çetin Doğan and retired Navy Cmdr. Adm. Özden Örnek were convicted to life on charges of “attempting to overthrow the […]

Coming Soon at a Bookstore Near You!

Publication date is early November. The excitement (well, my excitement) is mounting. Here’s the publisher’s website with a pdf of chapter 1.

Bad Nationalist Habits Reemerge: Mor Gabriel Loses Appeal and State Takes Its Land

I’ve been following the attempt by the 1600-year-old Syriac Orthodox Christian Mor Gabriel monastery to defend its land against the state, which wanted it for the Treasury, and against encroaching villagers who claimed it for their cattle. The villagers accused the Christians of being un-Turkish and anti-Islamic. (click here for round one of the battle […]

My Two Kuruş

At the Abant meeting a journalist did an interview with me for Today’s Zaman that covered a dizzying number of topics. Here it is. And here (JWZamanInterview) is a pdf of the actual newspaper — with slightly better photos. I know, I’m being vain.

More Changes: Military Clubs Will Admit Religious Clothing, Beards (and Foreigners)

In the past, it was illegal for the following types of people to enter military casinos, wedding halls and other social establishments: 1. people who did not wear contemporary (çağdaş) clothing, and instead wore beards, (imam’s) robes, turban, skullcaps, headscarves, etc.; 2. those who haven’t shaved that day, wore dirty or unironed clothing; 3. people […]

Out With The Old National Rituals

A major change: the end of the iconic Kemalist national displays and rituals that included stadiums of costumed and choreographed youth (sometimes wearing Ataturk masks), ten-story banners of Ataturk, military displays, and in some regional centers, “reenactments” of victories over “foreign forces” like Armenians that in one case featured young Turkish boys dressed as soldiers, […]

1453 Slapdown

For some reason, “Fetih 1453″ is playing in Burbank (and only there). I’m in LA to give a talk, so I dragged an American friend to the movie, anticipating a sell-out blockbuster (how many Turks are in LA?). The theater had six people in it when we arrived; later a few more trickled in, a […]

Turkey’s Taboos

An excerpt from Ayşe Kadıoğlu‘s heart-felt essay in The Guardian (here) about the frightening taboos that mould the Turkish mind and daily practice. These taboos (and others) are at the heart of my forthcoming book, Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks (Princeton, November 2012). I too felt that these nationalist taboos, rather than the threat of […]

Remembering September 12

The trial against the two generals who carried out the 1980 coup who are still alive, Kenan Evren and Tahsin Şahinkaya, has opened a public discussion of the brutality  of the coup and its aftermath as witnesses around the country step forward and submit their accounts of torture and killing to the court. Given the […]