Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated that Turkey recognizes anti-semitism as a crime, while not a single Western country recognizes Islamophobia as such.Source: Today's Zaman
Speaking to journalists in Sarajevo after a series of visits to Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Erdoğan commented on the 14-minute trailer for "Innocence of Muslims," an obscure film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad, which sparked violent riots across various Muslim nations.
Erdoğan said he will talk about the movie that has angered Muslims on Sept. 25 at the UN General Assembly. He noted that the reaction against the movie in Turkey has been restrained. “In the last past 10 years, extremes [in Turkey] have been curbed. In a way, we acted like a lightning rod.”
He said the Turkish government has made its statement on the movie, giving messages in Yalta, and later during his visit. He said reactions against the movie continued and increased, noting statements from Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi, who defined the movie as an “aggression on Islam,” has played a role in this.
Erdoğan said he will continue to give messages at the next UN General Assembly meeting about adopting international legislation against insulting religion. “I am the prime minister of a nation, of which most are Muslims and that has declared anti-semitism a crime against humanity. But the West hasn’t recognized Islamophobia as a crime against humanity -- it has encouraged it. [The film director] is saying he did this to provoke the fundamentalists among Muslims. When it is in the form of a provocation, there should be international legal regulations against attacks on what people deem sacred, on religion. As much as it is possible to adopt international regulations, it should be possible to do something in terms of domestic law.”
He further noted, “Freedom of thought and belief ends where the freedom of thought and belief of others start. You can say anything about your thoughts and beliefs, but you will have to stop when you are at the border of others’ freedoms. I was able to include Islamophobia as a hate crime in the final statement of an international meeting in Warsaw.”
Erdoğan said the government will immediately start working on legislation against blasphemous and offensive remarks. “Turkey could be a leading example for the rest of the world on this.”
The prime minister also shared his opinion about the difference between the Turkish reaction and Arab reactions at the film. He said his government has acted like a lightning rod and extremes in Turkey have been curbed. “If this hadn’t happened, it would be like the pre-1980 times here. We have girls here [Bosnia] who come to us and say, crying, ‘You opened the door of universities [for headscarved women], and the imam-hatip schools.’ The percentage of female students [from Turkey] studying here has fallen to 35-40 percent from 60 to 75 percent.”
In response to a question on whether relations with Israel seem to be normalizing, Erdoğan said, “Israel has not found itself a good position in the eyes of the Islamic world. They are also not making any effort to start a normalization process.” He said Israel only has ties with Turkey and should make an effort to maintain good relations. Erdoğan said the Israeli government had sent him a businessman who will act as a go-between, but did not name this person. He said he’d told this person -- who he said is the richest Jewish businessman in the world -- that Turkey has three conditions for normalization, which are an official apology to Turkey for a May 2010 attack on a Turkish passenger ship bringing aid to Gaza, paying compensation for the attack that left nine Turkish citizens dead and ending the blockade of Gaza.
Erdoğan said he was hopeful about a recent initiative launched by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, whereby the foreign ministers of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey will be meeting this week.
Monday, 17 September 2012
Saturday, 15 September 2012
So much for the Turks being so civilised and European. It seems they're just a bunch of savages like all the rest. Who'd have thunk?
Some 300 people gather outside one of Istanbul's main mosques on Friday protesting a film they say insults the Prophet Mohammad. They chanted anti-US slogans and waved placards reading "God damn America" and "The United States is responsible for what happened" outside Beyazit Mosque.Source: Reuters
Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Turkey is using illegal immigration as a weapon against Greece and Europe, islamising the content and exerting pressure to exact political concessions from the EU. This should provoke a devastating response from European governments. Instead, these spineless fools continue their policy of endless appeasement.
Greece now has a million illegal immigrants in a country of 11 million, many warehoused in camps under atrocious conditions.
"What's going to become of these people? What will they do when they are released?", asks a French official whose service term is coming to an end. His observation is sombre: "Greece is becoming the prison of Europe."Source: Valeurs Actuelles
...The police chief of Orestias [just over the border from Turkey], Giorgos Salamangas, is direct: "Up to 2009, the number of immigrants was still moderate and manageable, he says [3,500 arrests for the sector he is in charge of]. It's in 2010 that things changed [36,000 arrests for the same sector]… »
That year, Turkey, without consulting anyone, decided to suppress visas for nationals of countries like Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia. Revolutionising as it did so migratory flows towards Europe. "Today, from Algeria and other cities in North Africa, you can get to Istanbul with a low cost flight for only 70 euros, says Giorgos Salamangas.
Now, hardly anyone risks the Mediterranean. Too expensive, too long and too dangerous. The illegals from Sahel and the Maghreb, like the Asians, now pass through Turkey and Greece. "Turkey has become the crossroads for illegal immigration towards the countries of the Schengen Area, especially thanks to the opening of low cost air links," confirms the 2012 report of the European agency Frontex, responsible for coordinating surveillance of the external frontiers of the EU.
The Turkish government closes its eyes. In addition to the economic benefits it gains from the transit of thousands of people through its territory, it is using immigration as a means of pressuring the EU. A Europe to which its own citizens only have access with a visa - "unjust", according to the Minister of European Affairs, Egemen Bagis. Ankara demands its abolition, pure and simple.
In the evening, in some streets in Omonia, a district located in the heart of Athens, it's not uncommon to have to step over the bodies of drug addicts to get into a building or even simply to walk past. In this capity city (almost 4 million inhabitants) without suburbs, the squats of the illegal immigrants are concentrated in Omonia. Drugs, prostitution, delinquency, AIDS: the place has become a sort of grey zone. Best not to linger there. Police officers (whose salaries have been cut by 30% compared to the previous year) admit their anxiety: "We are sitting on a time bomb," warns one of them. "As far as crime is concerned, all the indicators are in the red. Home jackings, burglaries, bag snatchings, all the figures have exploded."
80 police officers were wounded on Saturday, one of them seriously, amid heavy rioting at the edge of a so-called Kurdish cultural festival in Mannheim. Most were injured by thrown stones or bricks or bottles, said the police. Fireworks were also ignited. 13 police vehicles were smashed up. The officers used pepper spray. There were 31 arrests.Source: Bild
Around 40,000 Kurds from all over Europe came to the cultural festival in Mannheim. For hours, around 2,500 violent or violence-willing Kurds and 600 police officers confronted one another in the Maimarkt area. Mannheim university clinic initiated its emergency plan: 40 doctors and 60 carers maintained a state of readiness; five operating rooms were ready for use.
According to police, the riots may have been triggered when a 14-year-old wanted to unfurl the flag of a prohibited organisation on the festival grounds. Event marshals had attempted to prevent it. When this failed, they had called the police for help. Then the police were suddenly attacked by multiple visitors.
The Kurds engaged in the violence were loudly supported by many thousands of other visitors attending the event. A police spokesman said they had "no chance" of being able to calm the situation. Calm was only restored when the event ended in the evening.
Tunahan Kuzu, a Dutch Labour party (PVDA) candidate in Rotterdam, has released a self-promotional video for the forthcoming elections in Turkish.
The biggest media trial in Turkey's history has begun in what human rights groups say is an attempt by the government to intimidate the press and punish pro-Kurdish activists.Source: Guardian
A total of 44 Kurdish journalists appeared in court in Istanbul on various terrorism charges, including accusations that they have supported the KCK, an illegal pan-Kurdish movement that includes the PKK, the armed Kurdistan Workers' party. Of those, 36 have been in pre-trial detention since December.
The hearing was delayed after the defendants made an attempt to defend themselves in Kurdish, their mother language, a request denied by the judge. Twelve of the defendants are said to have led a terrorist organisation and 32 are accused of being members of a terrorist organisation. Prosecutors have demanded prison sentences ranging from seven and a half to 22 and a half years.
The contentious case comes amid an escalation of Turkey's 28-year-old Kurdish insurgency, with renewed clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces. Over the past 14 months, the country has seen its worst violence since the PKK's leader, Abdullah Öcalan, was captured and jailed in 1999. Since June 2011, at least 708 people have been killed, according to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. The victims include 405 PKK fighters, 209 soldiers and police, and 84 civilians, it said.
Meanwhile, a peaceful initiative by Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) to improve Kurdish rights has fizzled out. Instead, thousands of non-violent Kurdish politicians and sympathisers have been arrested and charged with terrorism offences. The journalists are the latest group to go on trial, activists say.
"This is bad for Turkey's international image," said Hüseyin Bagci, of Ankara's Middle East Technical University's international relations department. Bagci described Erdoğan's Kurdish political initiative – unpopular with many Turks – as dead, but said the government remained divided over how to deal with the worsening insurgency, with no clear strategy.
Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the Turkish government for the prosecution of pro-Kurdish politicians, activists and journalists who exercise their right to freedom of expression.
Andrew Gardner, Turkey researcher of Amnesty International, said: "[This] prosecution forms a pattern where critical writing, political speeches and participation at peaceful demonstrations are used as evidence of terrorism offences."
More than 100 journalists are currently in jail in Turkey, more than in Iran or China. Many of them work for Kurdish media outlets. About 800 more face charges and many journalists have been fired or have quit their jobs because of direct or indirect pressure from the Turkish government.
In a recent speech, the interior minister, Idris Naim Sahin, compared writers and journalists to PKK fighters, saying that there was "no difference between the bullets fired in [the Kurdish south-east] and the articles written in Ankara".
The government maintains that none of the journalists on trial have been arrested for their work as members of the press. However, the 800-page indictment includes charges for "denigrating the state" against one journalist who wrote about sexual harassment at Turkish Airlines. Özlem Agus, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Tigris News Agency (DIHA), was singled out for bringing to light sexual abuse of minors in the Pozanti prison in Adana. Other offending articles include interviews with the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy party (BDP) leader Sebahattin Demirtas, and reports on casualties in the fights between the PKK and Turkish armed forces.
"All of the defendants are on trial for doing their jobs," the defence lawyer Meral Danis Bektas said. "A free press and freedom of expression are cornerstones of democracy. Without them, democratic political participation becomes impossible. Erdoğan now openly threatens journalists or dictates [what to write]. This attitude creates a terrible climate for press freedom."
A report by the International Crisis Group to be published on Tuesday blames both sides for the worsening situation. It says the government needs to "reform oppressive laws that jail legitimate Kurdish politicians" and to "make amends" for the excessive behaviour of its security forces. But it adds: "The Kurdish movement, including PKK leaders, must abjure terrorist attacks and publicly commit to realistic political goals. Above all, politicians on all sides must legalise the rights most of Turkey's Kurds seek, including mother-language education, an end to discriminatory laws, fair political representation and more decentralisation."
The report also claims Ankara has "zigzagged" on its commitments to Kurds' rights. At times it has given "positive signals" including scheduling optional Kurdish lesson in schools. "At others, they appear intent on crushing the PKK militarily, minimise the true extent of fighting, fail to sympathise with Kurdish civilian casualties, openly show their deep distrust of the Kurdish movement, do nothing to stop the arrest of thousands of non-violent activists and generally remain complacent as international partners mute their criticism at a time of Middle East turmoil."
Since 2009, 8,000 pro-Kurdish politicians, lawyers, academics, writers and members of the media have been arrested on terrorism charges.
The new media trial "is clearly political," said the investigative journalist Ertugrul Mavioglu, who faced terrorism charges, dropped last December, for interviewing the KCK's leader Murat Karayilan, who operates from a base in northern Iraq.
Mavioglu said: "The government wants to set an example, it wants to intimidate. Journalists are being told: 'There are limits on what you are allowed to say.'"
Thursday, 6 September 2012
Turkey’s bid to join the European Union is “stalled” and Cyprus is to blame, EU President Herman Van Rompuy said.Source: Businessweek
Cyprus, its northern part occupied by the Turkish army, has used its veto power as an EU member to freeze Turkey’s entry talks since mid-2010. The Cypriot government now holds the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, making progress before 2013 unlikely.
“Were it not for some challenges from one of the members of the European Union, Cyprus, we would have made more progress when it comes to Turkey,” Van Rompuy told a Brussels conference today. “I acknowledge that negotiations on enlargement are stalled for the time being because one of the members of the club has problems with the process.”
Since opening the entry negotiations in 2005, Turkey has completed talks in only one of 35 EU policy areas. Its failure to advance contrasts with Croatia, which started the process at the same time and is scheduled to join the bloc in July 2013.
“Intensive discussions are ongoing and I hope to visit Turkey to get that message across,” Van Rompuy said.