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 […]

Remember September 11

In a recent interview (click here), journalist and author Taha Akyol made the important point that the trial of the 1980 coup generals now occurring obscures the overall “authoritarian and conflict-based nature” of Turkey’s political system, both in the time before the coup and now and in so doing absolves those whose violence created the […]

Historic Trial of 1980 Coup Generals Begins

The landmark trial over the 1980 coup opened yesterday in the absence of the two ailing defendants, coup leader Kenan Evren and then air force commander Tahsin Şahinkaya, as some intervening lawyers demanded that the pair be brought to court in a cage… Evren, 94, Chief of General Staff during the coup and President until 1989 […]

Turkish Youth Ignorant, Inward-Looking

Turkey might have a young population, but the country’s youth are largely insular and ignorant, posing problems if the nation wants to run a globally competitive, knowledge-based economy, leading sociologist Nilüfer Narlı says. Internet penetration is low, while many young people don’t know a second language, she says. (click here for more)