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Turkey in a Middle Eastern fantasyland

Turkey’s main opposition party Republican People’s Party [CHP] began a 2-day conference at Istanbul on Friday on the ‘Arab Spring’. The government’s Syria policy is in the crosshairs. The deputy head of CHP, Faruk Logoglu (who used to be the head of the foreign ministry during my tenure as ambassador in Ankara) made some exceptionally sharp criticism against the Recep Erdogan government’s Middle East policies. He called them ‘dangerous fantasy’. 

Turkish discourses have acquired great transparency — ironically, a legacy of the Erdogan era. Logoglu was blunt about Turkey’s covert help to Syrian fighters opposing the regime in Damascus. I am impressed how mature and calm Turkey has become in discussing such sensitive security issues so openly. If we in India had a Logoglu, we would have branded him by now as hopelessly ‘unpatriotic’ or ‘anti-national’. 
There is merit in the criticism that Turkey is in a fantasyland, regarding itself as a role model for the Middle East when it manifestly needs a lot of social and political awakening itself — although Logoglu didn’t mean it quite that way. 
I believe, the women’s wing of the ruling party Justice and Development Party demanded yesterday that Turkish women should be allowed to wear headscarves in all public places and that the state should “stop imposing secularism”. But it made a distinction: while women members of parliament should be allowed to wear headscarves, women serving in the judiciary, security establishment and schools and colleges should continue to be barred from wearing headscarves. Again, while teachers shouldn’t wear headscarves, students should be free to wear them. 
I am foxed at such hair-splititng. So are my stylish Turkish friends who of course like to defiantly flaunt their lovely blond hair. Why is Turkey wasting its time over archaic issues in the second decade of the 21st century? Logoglu’s remarks are here

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  1. Johan says

    “… Turkish friends who of course like to defiantly flaunt their lovely blond hair …”

    Blond hair is definitely not a characteristic of original ethic Turks, presently a small minority in Turkey, who derive from certain Central Asian Mongoloid tribes that got unified under Islam prior to invading Asia Minor. While today no state can claim anything close to “ethnic purity” of its inhabitants, it is truly bizarre indeed that Turkish legislation still tries desperately to cling to the fiction, even by making “insult of Turkishness” a criminal offence. And especially Turkey, which is ethnically far less homogeneous than most other countries on this planet. A fantasyland, in more than one sense.

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