Tag Archives: Turkey

Politics of Meddling

turkey_euHe came to listen, not to lecture. Yet after yesterday’s push for Turkey’s acceptance into the EU, I wonder if Europeans Obama-glow has worn off. Aside from a few missteps, like his snooze inducing presser with Brown and his ‘French’ town hall, the President and his prompter had them weak-kneed and star-struck. So, they must have been taken aback when Obama continued the ugly American habit of minding other countries’ business.

“Turkey is bound to Europe by more than bridges over the Bosphorous. Centuries of shared history, culture, and commerce bring you together. Europe gains by diversity of ethnicity, tradition and faith – it is not diminished by it. And Turkish membership would broaden and strengthen Europe’s foundation once more.”

But according to a poll released by the German Marshall Fund and the Compagnia di San Paolo in late 2007, only 21 percent of Europeans believe that their culture would be enriched enough to support Turkey’s bid for EU membership. 21 percent. Merkel and Sarkozy strongly oppose EU membership for Turkey.

Imagine the outrage and furor if, during his speech before the United States Congress, French President Sarkozy had made a plea to legalize the more than 20 million illegals currently living in the United States? After all, they would enrich our culture, add to our diversity and benefit our commerce. It would have been a classic ‘mind your own bees wax’ moment.

We should let the EU member nations and their citizens decide Turkey’s fate. Controversial mosque construction, whether to permit ‘burkinis’, and attacks on free speech, are matters for Europeans, not Americans. And if the recent Turkish resistance to the Danish Prime Minister’s nomination to lead NATO is any indication of future battles in Brussels, well, then maybe the concerns of Sarkozy and Merkel have merit.

Maybe Europeans don’t believe that the old continent, “gains by diversity of ethnicity, tradition and faith.” The riots in Paris, the cartoon controversy in Denmark and the attacks on their freedom might have them a bit spooked.

Nigel Farage, the UK Independence Party leader, calls the idea “a disaster, and advises Mr. Obama to “remember that while he’s been elected President he’s been elected President of the United States only.” Good luck with that…

Kill the Christians!

Christian persecution

Yesterday’s al-Qaeda claim of responsibility for a kidnapping of two Austrian tourists in Tunisia was largely obscured by the ‘governor with the hooker’ story, but it reminded me of a little blurb in Italy’s Panorama which detailed recent Islamist oppression around the world.

Iraq: On the day Iraqi Christians celebrated Christmas Eve, seven holy sites were attacked. In Baghdad, terrorists hit the Chaldean Church of San Giorgio, a Greek Orthodox Church, and a convent of the nuns of Chaldea at Zaafraniya. In Mosul, the church of San Paulo was almost destroyed, and the entrance to an orphanage run by nuns of al-Noor was demolished.

An Iraqi Christian described how difficult it is for him to watch Muslim women pray in the spot where he used to worship before his Church of Mary in Baghdad was overrun by Muslims. Priests have been kidnapped and killed by terrorists in Iraq and an Orthodox Pope was beheaded in January of 2007.

Christians aren’t just under fire in Iraq. In the last few days Ashraf Ramaelah, the Italian representative of the Copt Christians who represent the largest religious minority in Egypt wrote a letter to the Egyptian ambassador denouncing the violence against the Christians along the Nile in 2007. Copt girls were raped and forced to convert to Islam. They were subjected to discrimination and arbitrary arrest; Christian shops were burned and looted in Isna, in Upper Egypt.

January 4, in Pakistan, 5 Christians were kidnapped in Waziristan by Taliban militia and subsequently released, but only after strong pressure. Rapes, accusations of blasphemy against Islam, forced conversions have all increased in number. And natives are increasingly hostile to mixed couples.

In India, Christians are considered outcasts and forced into humiliating work.

In soon to be independent Kosovo, Christians are exhuming their dead to prevent Muslims from desecrating their graves. Twelve tombs have been opened in Pec and three in Pristina. Coffins of Christians were transported into Christian Orthodox territory in Serbia. Gravesite vandalism isn’t new for them. When Milosevic was defeated, Muslims exacted revenge on the Serbs by burning more than 150 churches and monestaries.

Even in Turkey, an allegedly secular state, Christians are suffering from religious subjugation. Armenians, Syrians, Greeks and Catholics are species in extinction. Forty years ago in Istanbul, the ancient capitol of Christianity, there were 300,000 Christians. Today, only five thousand are left.

Meanwhile, we’ve got al-Jazeera and the rest of the Arab press along with the Western media giants pushing the notion that the most abused and exploited ethnic group are Muslims. I beg to differ. But until we’re willing to raise the difficult questions and depart from our endless practice of self-flagellation, the debate will continue to be waged by just one voice.

 

SIDE NOTE: Just as I was going to bed, I spotted this depressing bit of news courtesy of The Jerusalem Post:

A 19-year-old Israeli Arab woman has survived an attempted “honor killing” by her brother on Tuesday in the Arab village of Na’ura, near Afula, after two bullets fired at her head shattered on impact, failing to penetrate her skull. Paramedics said the girl survived by playing dead, leading her brother to stop shooting and kicking her.

The most disturbing part of the story wasn’t the attempted honor killing…It was the reaction of the girl’s family:
The 24-year-old suspect was warmly praised by some members of his family for the attempted murder. He is in police custody.

Criticism that Sticks

Headscarf

 

While living in Italy, at least early on, I bristled at the European accusation that we, the U.S., were always minding other countries’ affairs. Meddling. Interfering. But it didn’t take long before I realized they had a point. The long and growing list of examples of America’s nosing into other people’s business includes our recent push to gain EU membership for Turkey. Just last month after a meeting with the President of Turkey, Bush argued, “It’s in the interest of peace that Turkey be admitted into the EU.”

 

I wonder how Europeans, more specifically Germans, feel about Bush’s hyperbolic assertion. I certainly know how many Italians feel about the growing Islamic influence in Europe. I wrote about it extensively in my book, The Absentee Ballot. 

 

Speaking Tuesday before Turkish Parliament, Prime Minister Erdogan referred to Germany’s practice of assimilating Turkish immigrants into German society as a “crime against humanity,” after just last week proposing that Germany should begin creating Turkish language high-schools…in Germany.

Just three percent of the German population is of Turkish descent, yet the headscarf aficionado, with a straight face, is lobbying Germany for the creation of new high-schools, hiring teachers from Turkey and instructing students in Turkish. How outraged would we be if the Mexican President came to the United States and demanded Spanish only high-schools? Spanish speakers make up nine percent of the U.S. population. At least President Calderón, would have a better argument.

A journalist for the German newspaper Der Spiegel called the Turkish language high-school suggestion “a novel idea,” but I’m not sure the German population shares that multicultural outlook. Conservative politicians most certainly don’t. The governor of Bavaria Gunther Beckstein spoke to Germany’s N24 TV and had this to say (from Der Spiegel):

      “The task (for Turks) is to be good citizens in Germany, to learn German, to speak German in their families.”  Erdogan’s remarks are   “nationalistic” and “highly displeasing.”

Conservative German newspaper Die Walt opined:

“This is the message that will stick: The Germans don’t want integration; they want to rob the Turks of their Turkishness, of their culture. That is grist for the mill of the not especially small number of Turks or Turkish descendants who aren’t very interested in integrating and who try to blame the Germans for that.”

 “Integration also involves assimilation. A person who grows into another culture changes by doing so. He leaves much of the culture he descends from behind. He gives up the old to become someone new. It’s a beautiful, painful process. In the long run it makes no sense to refuse to accept that.”

Maybe it would be in America’s best interest for Turkey to gain EU membership, but would it really benefit our partners in NATO? Europeans, not Americans, are the ones forced to confront the radical change occurring within their societies. Setting cars ablaze, threatening newspapers, inciting hate at radical mosques and murdering artists don’t exactly reflect the enlightenment values of their adopted nations.  

When Europeans tell us to mind our own beeswax, well, maybe we should.