Disturbing Trends

This post has been updated THREE TIMES (latest update August 10th)

1. Ali Yüksel, newly promoted advisor to PM Erdogan has three wives (only one is legal in Turkey) and openly aspires to a fourth.”When I married a second time, I said, I plan to go to four, but who knows, only Allah knows.”  In an interview in a book by journalist Fehmi Çalmuk, Yüksel speaks openly about how he keeps to a schedule, spending a day with each “wife” in turn (I put this in quotes because only the first wife is acknowledged by law; the rest are, in effect, mistresses); this is verified by a glowing account of his fairness by third “wife” Dilber Yüksel. (“He’s a prince on a white horse…”)  But when asked if he asked the women’s permission to “marry” again, he said, “I didn’t get their permission. They couldn’t give permission anyway. It’s possible to get permission to do an act of Sunni worship [like this], but I’m not required to.” Dilber Yüksel, when asked how she would react if he took a fourth wife, said, “It would be wrong of me to tell him not to marry. It’s his right. But as a woman, as someone who loves him, I don’t want it. It’s hard. I would be very hurt.”

What about women’s rights? Children’s rights? How are inheritance rights and identity papers handled in cases like this? I wish the Turkish press would dig just a little deeper, instead of asking the obvious questions (“How do you treat them fairly? Isn’t it hard?”) How widespread is this? I’ve covered other instances of AKP officials with multiple “wives” in this blog, and anecdotally I hear it’s considered a problem in the Muslim community (by the women, of course). (click here, in Turkish)

Update: I’ve been thinking about the legality of this. Even assuming there’s a law against bigamy (which there may not be), this probably wouldn’t be illegal under that law, since only the first wife will have been married under state law. The others have only a religious ceremony, i.e. are not officially married. If that is the case, what is the difference between these women and mistresses? Mistresses are not against the law. However, the AKP and (male) Islamic pundits like Ali Bulac (who has at least two “wives”) have been very vocal about the evils of adultery. AKP went so far as to try to make it illegal a few years ago. So wouldn’t that make multiple wives illegal, or at least morally reprehensible? Or does this outrage apply only to women straying?

Well-educated women in the Islamic community have told me that they believe the men in their community are using Islam for their own ends to give themselves more rights than women and rights over women, something with which they do not agree. They feel pressured to go along with it in part because it is the men who make the “rules” about what is proper Islamic practice. This is partly the fault of the (equally male-dominated) press and even scholars who privilege Islamic men’s writings and opinions over those of their equally educated women.

It’s a shame that more secular women’s groups don’t work together with pious women’s groups — many of them have the same agenda, but some people can’t get over the fact that their interlocutor is wearing a headscarf .

UPDATE 2: I love it. Here’s the Twitter link (thanks, Bulent)

A campaign called “NoAliYuksel” has been launched on the social networking site, Twitter, in protest at the prime minister’s adviser, who has three wives.

Emine Aslaner, who wears a headscarf, started the campaign, which has also drawn support from men. “NoAliYuksel,” meanwhile, has now made the Twitter trend list… (click here for the rest)

UPDATE 3: The German newspaper Welt Online pointed out that Yüksel isn’t a direct advisor to Erdogan, but rather advisor to Minister Faruk Cilek, who is responsible for the Diyanet, the ministry dealing with religious affairs. The paper points out that one should perhaps be equally concerned with Yüksel’s Milli Görüs background and the fact that he leads that fundamentalist organization’s European branch. Milli Görüs was responsible for getting the Mavi Marmara convoy to Gaza organized and believe Israel can only be conquered by force. Its own organizers claim to want a “Greater Turkey” that would lead the Muslim world. PM Erdogan and President Gül, the article points out, come out of the Milli Görüs movement, but have since split with it and for now are following a more moderate path.

2. Izmir Province National Education Ministry has suggested separate schools for boys and girls “for regional, cultural, and traditional reasons” at the 18th National Education Council. I was surprised to see that it was Izmir, which has long been considered a liberal part of the country. (click here, in Turkish)

3. A Syriac Christian in southeast Turkey set up a wine factory to produce traditional Syriac wines, which are also used in religious ceremonies, has encountered an amazing juggernaut of official and private hostility and hindrances. Midyat (Mardin province) is traditionally a wine-growing area, and Syriac wines generally are made privately, so not available in shops. He obtained government permission from the Agriculture Ministry and the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Agency to build the wine factory two years ago, but has been unable to begin production. Locals wouldn’t sell him iron and cement; he was unable to find a local food engineer or chemist (they told him making wine is a sin). Just as disturbing:

A few days after he received permission, Aktaş said, his house was raided by the police at night. He claimed his home’s front door was broken and he was beaten by police officers in front of his children. His bedroom and all the drawers in the house were searched for wine, he said, adding that the public prosecutor came to his house after the incident.

“I filed a complaint against these police officers but the court only gave a symbolic fine to one of them,” Aktaş said, adding that he was tried on charges of illegally producing wine at home due to the wines found in the cellar of his house… the court fined him and his partner 180,000 Turkish Liras.

They appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Appeals, Aktaş said, noting that the homes of other Syriacs in the region are still being raided based on claims of illegal wine production…

Though he applied to many institutions, Aktaş said, he was unable to bring water, telephone lines and roads to his factory building. He said he paid 100,000 liras to build a temporary road to the factory and to hook up the electricity. The factory is completed, equipped with machines from Italy and built using traditional Syriac architectural styles, but cannot produce wine.

Aktaş said some local landowners have threatened to cut his electricity by removing electric poles carrying power to the factory that are located on their land.

The Mardin governor showed little interest in Aktaş’s problems. Click here for the full article in English.

35 Responses to “Disturbing Trends”

  1. What you may have missed is that the bride waiting the polygamist prince on a white horse was eleven at the time.
    .
    This comes up over and over again. It came up in that Erzincan prosecutor’s case also (I dunno what his involvement with Ergenekon is, but he does appear to have caused discomfort by trying to enforce laws). There are laws on the books that ban some/all of this, but there’s a sizable part of the populace (nowadays politically, if not numerically, powerful) that don’t consider those laws legitimate. This is where we appear to be. I am unsure we recognize this fully.

  2. I think the article says she fell in love with him at age 11; not sure when they “married”. I agree — a big part of the problem is that people feel free to come up with “traditional” laws that replace state law. What does that say about state legitimacy?

  3. You are right on what the article doesn’t say, I tried not to say it too but apparently failed. I meant to write ‘prospective bride.’
    .
    I agree with the question on state legitimacy. I don’t know the answer, but it is a good (and obvious) question to ask. The problem now is there’s no way the other numerically inferior but politically still powerful section of the society will agree to the kind of state that’ll look legitimate to the gender-segregationist, polygamist, booze-hating lot. Dunno.

  4. This is simply wrong, I understand all cultures are different, but I think minorities, women and children’s rights are not and must not be negotiable.

  5. Hi Jenny,

    Totally with you on the first and the third ones.

    About the second point though, why can’t Turkey have separate schools, *in addition to* its co-ed schools?

  6. It’s a STATE school. Depends on the reason too. I went to an all-girls Catholic High School and liked it. But I don’t think the state should be able to separate boys and girls for “cultural, traditional” (religious) reasons.

  7. Jenny, I think this is how it works:
    .
    Even assuming there’s a law against bigamy (which there may not be), this probably wouldn’t be illegal under that law, since only the first wife will have been married under state law. The others have only a religious ceremony, i.e. are not officially married.
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    Holding that ceremony before the legal one (‘medeni nikah’) is illegal AFAIR.
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    If that is the case, what is the difference between these women and mistresses?
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    Nothing, as far as the law is concerned. I dunno what they do about the kids.
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    Mistresses are not against the law.
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    No and this point is usually made whenever polygamy is brought up. That is, people argue that if mistresses are allowed why not religiously-sanctioned multiple wives?
    .
    However, the AKP and (male) Islamic pundits like Ali Bulac (who has at least two “wives”) have been very vocal about the evils of adultery. AKP went so far as to try to make it illegal a few years ago. So wouldn’t that make multiple wives illegal, or at least morally reprehensible?
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    It isn’t because it is allowed by the religion (so it is argued, anyway).
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    Or does this outrage apply only to women straying?
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    Outrage applies to women usually in all things and men if they are ‘secular.’
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    Well-educated women in the Islamic community have told me that they believe the men in their community are using Islam for their own ends to give themselves more rights than women and rights over women, something with which they do not agree even scholars who privilege Islamic men’s writings and opinions over women’s.
    .
    I had occasion to read something from one such woman — parts of her prose looked scarier than polygamy would. But, anyway, they need to talk about this in public and are increasingly doing so. We know what kind of men political movements attract esp. when they hold or come close to power. Islamic community is no different, IMHO, but the tools available to such men might be somewhat more useful. Here’s something from Murat Belge about women and the ‘left’ when they were big: http://www.radikal.com.tr/haber.php?haberno=171673
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    They feel pressured to go along with it in part because it is the men who make the “rules” about what is proper Islamic practice.
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    I thought it was God, oh well, live and learn. I’ll ask my parents what the talk about this is where they are, come referendum day, when, we are told, they’ll be back from the dead to vote.
    .
    This is partly the fault of the (equally male-dominated) press andIt’s a shame that more secular women’s groups don’t work together with pious women’s groups — many of them have the same agenda, but some people can’t get over the fact that their interlocutor is wearing a headscarf.
    .
    This is very interesting to me. There seems to be an immense psychological barrier on this issue among women. Perhaps it is something they have picked up from their uncovered moms. (This ‘whore’ and ‘exhibitionist’ business about uncovered women has a long past.) I have noticed this resistance around me too. I wonder why that is and if I am reading it correctly. It is reported as ‘secularist fascism’ or something like that, but while it is political alright it doesn’t look like that kind of a political thing. Note how women supportive of headscarf freedom could not bring themselves to use it ‘turban’-style even for for a picture: http://yenisafak.com.tr/Gundem/?t=03.04.2007&i=38400

  8. “Bölgesel, kültürel ve geleneksel nedenlerden dolayı özellikle ortaöğretime erişim ve devamın sağlanmasında sıkıntılar dikkati çekmektedir. ”

    OK, I think the reason why he is suggesting that there should be single sex schools is because there are people in Turkey who don’t want to send their daughters to schools after a certain age because they don’t want their daughters to be with boys.

    So, is it better to have the girls stay at home or just build girls-only schools?

    Besides, if the public demands single sex education (for whatever reason) and don’t want to pay for private education, why can the state not provide that option as well?

  9. I think Tugrul is raising a valid point. We have talked about this here (taking either side) about headscarves in schools and imam-hatip schools. Even if one assumes what the people want is irrelevant, a point can be made that if headscarves and imam-hatips will break the parents resistance to sending their daughters to go to school, it is may still be a net win. If what people truly want is taken into account, in many regions there are a lot of people who want gender-segregated schools (and gender-segregated everything else, prolly). Something will have to flex for things to go forward. Perhaps we’ll end up recognizing that these huge centrally-controlled centrally-budgeted hierarchical systems in education won’t work for this country and localize things some. These are very real problems and we basically wasted a decade bickering about headscarves and whatnot rather than talking about such things.

  10. The difference between mistresses and polygynous “wives” is that the latter think they are sanctioned by god, and will try to legalize themselves by virtue of this belief.

    These Islamists are never going to stop. They will push us as far back as they can. I’m not even going to bother rebutting their ridiculous arguments.

    The latest argument I have read in defense of this idiocy is moral relativism: Everybody’s truths are different, and we have to respect them. Furthermore, there are god’s truths, and our truths are but a poor approximation. Some people are even throwing in quantum mechanics to “prove” the elusiveness of the truth.

    OK, I think the reason why he is suggesting that there should be single sex schools is because there are people in Turkey who don’t want to send their daughters to schools after a certain age because they don’t want their daughters to be with boys.

    Well tough, because you don’t have the right to deprive your children of an education. It’s the parents who need to be fixed, not the system. Is there a campaign to educate the parents?

  11. Emre, suppose there’s a guy from some not-so-poor inner region of Anatolia who’s a practicing Muslim and somewhat conservative otherwise but isn’t involved with any movement or political ogranization or anything. Let’s have him be a clever shopkeeper or a small business owner (say a lathe shop? muffler shop?) in some industrial zone. Let’s assume he says he won’t send her daughter to a co-ed school but has nothing against her daughter studying as much as she wants otherwise. What will he be told through this ‘education’ program to sway his mind? How will you even make sure he ends up listening to what these ‘educators’ tell him? I wouldn’t know how to do these things. Does anyone?

  12. It’s not my job to write create an action for the government; that’s what we pay them for. Make posters, TV/radio public service announcements, pamphlets… What have they been doing?
    .
    Parents do not have a right to choose between no school and a segregated school. Do they also have a right not to send their children to schools with no Kurds, atheists, or homosexuals? Discrimination is not a right.

  13. It’s not my job to write an action plan for the government…

  14. Could someone make this a little clear to me: What exactly is it that this blog entry objecting to?
    .
    It certainly doesn’t seem to have qualms with mistresses –and’ if it has, TR hardly ranks at the top.
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    And, it’s not as if the guy in question has forced anyone of those women into what they accept; is it?
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    Plus, there is no cheating or deception: each companion is well aware of the presence of the other.
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    Given the above, wouldn’t it be fair to call this fresh water moralism as it seems to be calling for the state to intervene when none of the parties appear to be complaining.
    .
    Legally, it’s no more adultery for two consenting persons to share a sexual life –indeed, if it were to be so, the first group to take to the streets would be the tourists, not the locals.
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    So.. again, just what was the point of the article?
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    PS: Ever heard of ‘Common-law marriage’?
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    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Common-law_marriage
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    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Common-law_marriage_in_the_United_States

  15. I think the only way out is laying stress on the individual and his/her rights. Why don’t women react to such marriages? How can they promote their own wills and needs when the alternative to the oppressive family is the oppressive state? First let them wear whatever they like (for example) and then you can claim you care about their rights and freedoms. Same thing with the wine, how can you defend the right of citizens to consume anything they like when you have laws against certain products (namely “drugs”)? Why not prohibit a few more with perhaps a more detrimental long-term effect than some of the illegal ones? Unless we face the problem of individuality to the root there will always be contradictions and deadlocks.

  16. Emre, these are your fellow citizens, should you not be able to sit down and convince them of the proper attitude to take towards all these rights and non-rights that sound so good when uttered in English to an English-speaking crowd? I am saying I wouldn’t know how to do that and that these folks don’t seem to be convinced by the others either. Quite on the contrary, not only are they not convinced of the things you want them to be convinced of, but they are also hearing things against co-ed. Here’s a search.
    .
    If this is situation is indeed as it seems to be, then the choice is between girls having the option of going to schools that are acceptable to parents and girls staying at home and then getting married off (and think of their daughters). I know there are frequent fantasies here about using the police to force people, but there seems to be neither the political will nor the personnel to do this with in the direction you wish. Besides, authoritarian tools cut both ways. How do you know the rhetoric for forced coed won’t legitimize the tools that’ll be used for banned coed? (With a wink to Siyah: I think this kind of lust for using state power in such ways is dangerous. Another not altogether unrelated example: Do you think RTE would be coming out against alcohol this blatantly with his ‘kurusuna da sulusuna da karsiyiz’ slogan if he hadn’t been cheered on about the ‘kuru’ one? Hell, the guy is right. There are negative externalities in alcohol use also. And, it is clear we just love the gov’t to ban things when there are negative externalities. No? With all kinds of good willed naivete and forced shortcuts to high principle, we seem to constantly make rods for our own backs.)

  17. Bulent,
    .
    You could make the same argument about any illegal activity. Should you let arranged child marriages go unhindered because you don’t know how to explain it to the perpetrators? At what point are you going to enforce the law?
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    Like I said, I would try to get the message across that every child has the right to an education. If it were my job, I would send some sociologists into the most troubled regions to find out what these people respond to.
    .
    As for Siyah’s drugs/alcohol quandary, the answer the simple: you can take alcohol without becoming addicted, but not drugs. The issue is not harm, but addiction; impairment of the ability to make rational decisions. Liberal societies don’t care too much what you do to yourself (as an adult); just don’t harm your neighbors.

  18. Emre,
    .
    Indeed you can make that same point about any law if it goes against the established ways of life. I have no argument with that part of your response. The laws going against such things head-on doesn’t seem to work very well for the people who make that law, nor the people who’re subject to it nor the kind of legitimacy state power needs to have.
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    Like I said, I would try to get the message across that every child has the right to an education. If it were my job, I would send some sociologists into the most troubled regions to find out what these people respond to.
    .
    Oh, perhaps I can help you: might it be religion, perchance?
    .
    Mandatory coed is newish anyway, I think. Isn’t it?
    .
    Anyway, I don’t buy your point about alcohol vs. illegal stuff. Not all illegal stuff is addictive and alcohol isn’t non-addictive for everyone. Nicotine is addictive for many too and it is legal. It doesn’t look like these things are done on principle (at least not the one advertised), and if they are not resisted on or objected to on principle one might as well drop the pretenses and go fully with political power w/o mentioning principles. It is mostly what happens anyway.

  19. Jenny, here’s the Twitter link for what you loved: http://twitter.com/search?q=%23NoAliYuksel

  20. Religion might be the cause, but not necessarily what they best respond to (are persuaded by). Supposing it were, you could say something like “The Koran says ‘Read!'”

    I never said all illegal things are addictive. Bazookas are not addictive, but they are still harmful. Losing rationality through intoxication is just one way of causing harm.
    .
    The right to sell someone something that diminishes their capacity to exercise reason is questionable. Even more so if it has other harmful effects to both the consumer, and to others. That puts cigarettes on shaky ground. Alcohol however can be taken in moderation. If your constitution is such that even a small dose makes you intoxicated you should not do things that require concentration after drinking. In the context of driving, for example, the law prescribes limits on blood alcohol concentration based on the constitution of an average person. You have to have the common sense to be more conservative than the law if you are weaker than the average person.

  21. Emre, I understand your point though I think you are underestimating the task. This isn’t simply a matter of our difference in approaches or outlook, I suspect you take the people in question to be real simpletons. They are probably are not.
    .
    One problem with coed is that people object on the grounds that mixing teenagers like that might lead to something sexual among them. Unless one’s willing to say something like ‘yeah, it might, what of it?’ there is no honest answer for that. Yes, if things like virginity and sexual inexperience or even girls being kept away from boys are deeply valued, coed is indeed risky. But look, now by trying to impose something different (let’s say a ‘modernizing agenda’) than just teaching school subjects (say, math or biology) we are turning fear of female sexuality into rejection of schooling. Is this sensible? Doesn’t look so to me.
    .
    Anyway, does anyone know when coed became mandatory and apparently sancrosanct? I am pretty sure state boys/girls high schools existed here alongside coed ones.

  22. Like I said, I am not proposing an action plan; that’s someone else’s job. I am merely defending co-ed education. In a country where the gender relations are so unhealthy, I can not get behind sexual segregation. Why would I want to give people who are taking their sexual frustrations out on their children a helping hand? I feel that hand would be better served administering them a rousing slap.
    .
    If teenagers do not learn to interact in a controlled, educational environment, where and when are they going to learn to treat one another responsibly? Raising responsible citizens is an important part of compulsory education; it’s not just about taking multiple choice tests.

  23. It appears this person has been on the gov’t payroll a long time and was appointed as an adviser in 2009 too. Here: http://www.internethaber.com/ankarayi-karistiran-bakan-atamasi–202435h.htm
    .
    At that point he seems to have just two wives. I also wonder if the eleven year old third one was raised in Germany. It is possible — given this guy’s fame there — that much of this happened in Germany perhaps with German-educated women.
    .
    As for what happens to the wives and kids, I don’t think we need to worry about this particular bunch. One of his daughters (from which wife?) seems to be married to an AKP higher-up, and there’s talk of further employment by some AKP municipality. I’d say the gov’t has done quite enough for that family and they can probably match the combined net worth of some commenters here.
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    I am actually not too disturbed by the marriage aspect this. It is none of my business really and the wives and kids don’t seem to be complaining. I would worry more about the gov’t involvement in supporting this family with salaries, positions and what not regardless of the polygamy and that they had this guy teach this stuff to kids. (Or, rather, that the kids were made to listen to him by law.)
    .
    Radikal has another piece on this today, here. They also talked to some women. Pretty much all call for legal action which I don’t really agree with. Where is this reflex coming from, I wonder? People hear something odd-sounding and immediately start talking about what the prosecutors should do etc. Anyway, in that piece Nazli Ilicak says she thinks that the appointed female MPs of AKP will make noises, which I find very funny since it is obvious they knew what kind of a crowd they were joining at the time AKP made them MPs. If we had truly elected women in there who got in on their own merits/work and not because of their husbands’ services, yeah, perhaps the expectation of a backbone would have been somewhat realistic. Of all the responses Hülya Gülbahar’s looked most interesting to me:
    .
    ‘Kadın- erkek eşitliğine inanmıyorum’ diyen sayın Başbakan, erkek çok eşliliğinin de mazur görülebileceğini mi kastediyordu? Acaba sadece haklar bakımından eşit olunduğunu söyleyen Başbakan, kadınların da çok eşli yaşamaya hakkı olduğunu düşünüyor mu?
    .
    This probably would have caused a scene in the parliament if it were delivered there. Is this woman going to run as an independent candidate, I wonder?

  24. I would worry more about the gov’t involvement in supporting this family with salaries, positions and what not regardless of the polygamy

    It is the tradition –you just don’t fire civil servants, unless they themselves requested to be retired, they are there for life.
     
    Some years ago I was in Ankara, and I thought I might as well visit an old friend I hadn’t seen for some time. I phoned him up, and he invited me to his office. When I arrived, there was this huge building, more than ten storeys, with larger than 50 m by 150 m footprint.
     
    It was quite odd in the sense that there didn’t seem to be any activity at all. I went up to his floor and walked an infinity corridor with offices on either side –all doors open, and hardly anyone inside.
     
    His ‘/office/’ turned out to be not so much ‘/his/’ office, but rather shared by 5-6 others –I could tell from the desks with stuff on them, even though no one else was in the room (no, it wasn’t a lunc break; it was 3 in the afternoon).
     
    I had to ask. And, the answer was this: Every time a new party gets in, they remove almost all higher-up bureaucrats from office and call them ‘advisors’. These are unemployed people in payroll.
     
    Since they just can’t tell them to get lost, they give them a desk and a phone in one of those /Sing-Sing blocks/. The building I saw easily housed several thousand inmates and I was assured there were quite a few of them around.
     
    BTW, for example, what do you think happens to ex-mayors? They become ‘merkez valisi’ in one of those buildings.

    and that they had this guy teach this stuff to kids. (Or, rather, that the kids were made to listen to him by law.)

    Careful. The moment you go along with questioning parental rights in this fashion, things are likely to get confused beyond wildest nightmares. Any parent anyone might consider unethical in some way might end up geting saparated from his/her children by the state.
     
    Anyway, perhaps, you too might find it mildly amusing that –while they have never been able to come up with an all-encompassing definition of it– a professor of anthropology should use ‘marriage’ as a premise.

  25. That’s so funny! It sounds like they’re getting the “Milton” treatment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8CrvGndKzE

  26. CA,
    .
    It is the tradition –you just don’t fire civil servants, unless they themselves requested to be retired, they are there for life.
    .
    And taken care of for life, of course. This privilege, in vastly amplified form, you can also get by staying in parliament for a period (less than a regular term, I believe). There actually isn’t much wrong with job/life security in civil service, it is just protection from political firing and a packaged reward for obedience. I was merely noting that the members of this family are hardly in any danger in the income/security department. Anyway, the political firing bit is prevented from happening, but it doesn’t look like the political hiring can be. I wonder if, down the line, we’ll see polygamists in, say, the police force. I’m sure, for example, women who get beaten up by their husbands for disobedience and such will find very friendly ears in such cops.
    .
    The moment you go along with questioning parental rights in this fashion, things are likely to get confused beyond wildest nightmares.
    .
    I actually wasn’t. This guys involvement in civil service seems to have started in Diyanet and as a ‘morals’ teacher in schools. You do remember, of course, that the mandatory morals class (not the religion class, making that mandatory took a ‘Kemalist’ coup) was inflicted on us by the Ecevit-Erbakan coalition. My parents thought it was ludicrous at the time even though they had always signed the request form for me to take the optional religion class (my choice). We are now finding out what kind of people that imposition enabled to get into teacher positions.
    .
    Parental choice and schools acting to fulfill it in such matters is interesting, actually. I looked into this some at one point, and the fancy Latin to feed into google is in loco parentis. This wouldn’t apply to Turkey, though, because it appears that even though ‘X toutelage’ is objected to for various values of X, people have no trouble with almost everyone being treated as wards of the state and shoved around if necessary.
    .
    The coed issue continues to get coverage BTW. The minister seems to be inching towards girls’ schools at least for the East: http://www.cnnturk.com/2010/turkiye/08/07/kiz.erkek.icin.ayri.okul.savunulabilir.bir.dusunce/585996.0/index.html

  27. Several things seem noteworthy about this polygamist business:
    .
    — The papers misreport things and, as Jenny observed, do not really tell us much. Radikal’s ‘tepki cig gibi buyuyor’ (an avalanche of reaction) was ridiculously false since there was no avalanche. English Hurriyet’s claim of ““NoAliYuksel,” meanwhile, has now made the Twitter trend list” also appears to be false. Nice going, you press people, you have my respect, as always.
    .
    — The only organized reaction we know about was started by a woman apparently on religious grounds. That is, it was against the guy’s claim that polygamy was a kind of act of worship under the Sunnah. Also, people made the point that the instigator of that campaign wore a headscarf. I am unsure making a headscarf this big a deal and a part of people’s identity helps things.
    .
    — All this appears to be consensual, but of course that never matters. The apparent acceptability of this kind of a relationship is remarkable though. Baykal’s relationship was consensual too, but it was scandalous and its disclosure was costly. Perhaps a more appropriate comparison would be another consensual thing that hurt all involved: http://arsiv.sabah.com.tr/2007/03/14/gun105.html
    .
    What does all this tell us? I don’t know. I does seem like it should tell us something, though.

  28. Emre,
    You put it so clearly. Discrimination is not a right. If Turkey is indeed a secular state, it should not fund schools that segregate the sexes for religious (or whatever other) reasons. Parents who do not send their daughters to schools should be punished. Boys who harass girls (or vice versa) at school should be punished. Why should the girls bear the brunt of this? But more generally, the state funding segregated schools sets up a bad precedent. Perhaps religious foundations can provide money for poorer families who cannot send their girls to segregated schools. Or perhaps they can open these schools and provide scholarships for the girls (and boys). Citizens do deserve this option, but state funding of such schools is not secularism. Soon, the girls who go to the co-ed schools will be deemed “loose” by their more religious or conservative peers, and a slippery slope is hard to go back up.

  29. Jenny, there seems to be some coverage of the Ali Yuksel thing in the German press (I can’t read German and I don’t know which paper is what, so I cannot gauge the insignificance of these things). You might want to check out the Twitter search page (there are links there) to see if they actually managed to dig up new stuff on parts that took place in Germany.

  30. Hahaha, I said above:
    .
    Perhaps it is something they have picked up from their uncovered moms. (This ‘whore’ and ‘exhibitionist’ business about uncovered women has a long past.)
    .
    Something like this seems to have made Calire Berlinski change her mind too:
    .
    […]One woman here told me of her humiliation in childhood when her family was ejected from a swimming pool because her mother was veiled. I believed her. All stories of childhood humiliation sound alike and are told in the same way. It was perverse, she said to me, that she should be free to cover her head in an American university but not in a Turkish one. It seemed perverse to me as well. It would to any American; politically, we all descend from men and women persecuted for their faith. I was, I decided, on the side of these women.
    .
    But that was when I could still visit the neighborhood of Balat without being called a whore.[…]
    (emphasis mine)
    .
    From here (please note that I am not commenting on the rest of the article, I just thought it was interesting how getting called a ‘whore’ can trigger shifts in thinking or at least provide justification in a way): http://www.aina.org/news/20100802062221.htm

  31. The German reports are all the same as English and Turkish. One more detail — Yuksel was in German jail in the 90s for Islamic malicious agitation (Hetzerei).

  32. Bulent, when I read that I think of Martin Niemöller’s poem “First they came….” I guess finally hearing her name on the persecution list finally woke Ms. Berlinski up.

  33. Emre, I don’t know. Unlike Niemoeller who claims to have been merely silent, when they came for our communists many said ‘oh, good riddance, they had it coming anyway.’ This is my obviously very flawed recollection of the thinking I observed and heard about at the time. Of course, it is likely to be a false memory since everybody says they deeply hated what happened even at the time.
    .
    Anyway, I don’t understand the mechanism behind what Jenny has observed about non-covered women not cooperating much with headscarved women. I have noticed this also, and it simple explanations like ‘oh they are fascists’ or ‘they are envious of the rising class’ don’t quite fit. I think the story, or, rather, parts of the justification that comes with the headscarf annoys uncovered women. It is likely that even though some don’t remember this this whore etc. abuse may have somehow etched itself somewhere too.
    .
    Berlinski acts surprised and was probably genuinely so, but I see nothing surprising. Stuff like this existed before and many of us were fully cognizant of the possibilities. What is surprising is that nobody seems to have told her when she was taking a different position. Are any of the Turks here surprised to hear of this whore talk? Are you, Jenny?

  34. No, not surprised. But I haven’t encountered that sort of intolerance toward me in the pious communities I frequent, probably since I know people there and dress conservatively (I don’t cover my hair or anything like that, but don’t show cleavage). But I HAVE had uncomfortable moments with what appear to be perfectly ordinary young men on the street in relatively upscale parts of Istanbul. It’s a fairly common predatory attitude toward women walking unaccompanied. No reason pious men should be immune.

  35. Jenny, yeah, I have seen that too. In fact I once saw a bunch of guys verbally bother a young woman (uncovered but not unusually revealing in any way) they were following about 20m in front of me. They passed by the cops guarding the governors’ residence (back door, but this is still Harbiye/Nisantas), and cops didn’t say or do anything. I asked the cops if they expected me to run and say something to the guys while they just sat there. Of course they mumbled something like ‘haklisin abi’ while pretending to look down. Just an ‘ayip’ from one of the cops would have stopped it, I think. An ‘ayip’ from me might have, too, of course — if I were 60-70 or so which would have ensured not getting any lip from them. Anyway.
    .
    I don’t think this ‘whore’ bit Berlinski is talking about is sexual predation, though. It has probably to do more with discomfort with women when it comes from men, and heaven knows what when it comes from women. The point it is, it exists, and perhaps that’s one more reason behind the polarization you noticed among covered/uncovered women.

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