Posts Tagged ‘turkey’
Turkey has been on my mind for awhile. The use of terror to indoctrinate severe learning disabled children into believing in Allah last April. Last December I highlighted the tension between Islamism and the republican secular ideals that modern Turkey was founded on.
I did not imagine that the protest regarding the redevelopment of Taksim Gezi Park would lead to this:
The creeping slide from secular republic towards an autocratic Islamist state was one that flew low under the radar for most western media outlets before the six nights of protests. What is happening is not an Arab spring – and we are not just talking about geography. Turkish leader Erdogan has won three elections.
Yet the idea of elected dictatorship is well understood. It is when a government makes use of legislative dominance and control over law and order to push through reforms which go against universal rights and norms of citizens. Such as kissing at train stations, national airline stewardesses wearing lipstick, the selling of alcohol and the use of twitter – by no means an extensive list but a flavour of what Islamists worry about. The issues are well summarised on the following placard:
If you cannot tell when an elected government is using clerical fascism for inspiration, then you have not been looking hard enough. It is there for us to see, and the Turkish people have by the overt force on peaceful environment protestors taken to the streets to express their overall grievances.
At it’s height so far about two to three thousand people in over 90 cities were arrested. The police response has been heavily criticised as the two photos above serve to demonstrate.
In an excellent post which I encourage you all to read, Rob Marchant sums up my feelings on what the protestors are doing:
In short: although they should take great care to stop their protests degenerating into violence, looting or even revolution, the Turkish demonstrators should not stop.
And that is because they are saying something important about democracy: it needs protecting and it has, even in the quite imperfect form it exists in in Turkey, served them pretty well. Their continued presence is an overdue slap-down for Erdogan; a message to both him and future leaders that in a democracy the people, and not the politicians, are the masters. Above all, that religion needs to be free and tolerant, not a behavioural tyrant imposing itself on the masses.
The young Turks seem to have suddenly realised that they largely already have what their counterparts in North Africa were protesting for. The last thing they need is for it to gradually slip away without a fight.
Secular solidarity for my fellow comrades of free thought in Turkey.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
When those on the autistic spectrum have severe learning difficulties, small developments in learning are like foot steps on the moon. For some, those moments will never come. What usually is of little concern is their comprehension of how the cosmos came into being. Quite frankly if there is a God that made severe learning difficulties then condemns them for not having the capacity to comprehend Him … why call him great?
The religious angle of those with learning difficulties, was raised in February on this blog, but events in Turkey have now started to hit the secular community over here with New Humanist and the International Humanist European Union picking up the story.
“Autistic children do not know believing in God because they do not have a section of faith in their brains,” sociologist Fehmi Kaya said, according to daily Milliyet.
Autism associations around Turkey have reacted angrily after the head of Adana’s Health and Education Associations for Autistic Children reportedly said autistic children were “atheists due to a lack of a section for faith in their brains.”
“Autistic children do not know how to believe in God because they do not have a section of faith in their brains,” sociologist Fehmi Kaya reportedly said. “That is why they don’t know how to pray, how to believe in God. It is necessary to create awareness [or religion] in these children through methods of therapy.”
The plan is to offer religious therapy to at least 30 children by June, extending to the disabled. Kaya is quoted further in the article saying:
“Every child understands when you tell him or her to fear God, but an autistic child will not,” Kaya told the Daily News. “Once he starts to develop normally, belief will come in time. We do not have the idea of creating a section for faith in their brains.”
This is religion as child abuse. You really want to teach vulnerable children to fear hell and God? My autistic brother (on classic far end of spectrum – see chart) was concerned I was leaving home when putting the rubbish out. For months he had to stand by the door to see me before satisfied I was coming back. If a cleric tried to explain to him I was going to hell as an atheist, if he could understand any of that what do you think would happen?
This reminds me of the offer of paradise earth the Jehovah’s Witnesses spun us. That we as a family could see my brother without learning difficulties in a future world made new. Similarly here, the hope held out to Muslim parents is their child can be helped to appreciate the faith with a reward in the next life. Efforts misdirected when genuine tested therapies for those with learning difficulties are out there, where funding and getting in time are all consuming as you care.
There are strategies in place to help parents take their autistic children to a place of worship. This can be found from The National Autistic Society Site. One hopes however it would not just be parents reading that, but the religious officials as well – and attendees. Because the behaviour (speaking during silence, eating offering, getting up and running down the aisle) will no doubt upset some people. Their sensitivities should not overrule the welfare of the autistic child. That should override concerns for their soul one hopes.
Therapy should be aimed at increasing life skills and none at terrorising vulnerable children, let alone any children, into belief. When after much effort, patience, long suffering and kindness you see it paying off it really is shooting the moon.
Even if just little steps.
UPDATE: May 15 Islamic hell by CEMB forum
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
TURKEY’S first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, came to power in 1996 vowing to put a mosque in Istanbul’s main square. In the heart of the old European quarter, Taksim Square, with its monument of Ataturk and his revolutionaries, remains a symbol of the secular republic. Mr Erbakan was ousted a year later.
Now a successor, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is making his former mentor’s dream come true. Secularists have taken to the streets in protest at what they call the Islamists’ “revenge” against the republic. Yet the bulldozers have moved in. Hundreds of trees are to be felled to make room for a replica of the Ottoman army barracks demolished by Ataturk’s successor, Ismet Inonu. The city’s mayor, Kadir Topbas, who comes from Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, insists that the complex will house art galleries and cafés, but secularists say this is just window-dressing for the new mosque.
Above Taksim Square from tourist website
There is, if you read the above link, more than an aesthetic challenge to secularism in Turkey.
One day I hope that Turkey will join the EU, sooner rather than later, so that the Western European tradition of secularism can be further strengthened. There are, not least with Cyprus and military interference in civil affairs, issues to be resolved. I hope that opportunity of membership has not already been missed.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
From my earlier blog it is now official that Adna Oktar has been responsible for the courts action blocking internet access to richarddawkins.net
“Istanbul’s Sisli 2nd Criminal Court of Peace has banned the site in Turkey on the grounds that Adnan Oktar’s personality was violated by this site. The court reached the decision to ban the site on September 3. A lawsuit is filed for the damages of mental anguish against Richard Dawkins in the amount of 8000 YTL (about 4000 Euro)”.
Irony is that Adnan Oktar is pro EU membership for Turkey. Freedom of speech restrictions and other concerns over human rights are a barrier to that goal. While most EU law emphasises libel, in Turkey the law has a focus on offense. The press officer for Adnan quoted above explained:
“We are not against freedom of speech or expression but you cannot insult people. We found the comments hurtful. It was not a scientific discussion. There was a line and the limit has been passed. We have used all the legal means to stop this site. We asked them to remove the comments but they did not.”
Because if on the site we removed every post that someone else found offensive, then we would not have much of a site for people to discuss science, religion and secularism. I remember being accused of being a communist (which given that I am an Adam Smith fan I found rather amusing). It did not occur to me that laughing it off was not the appropriate option.
Because the mental anguish motive could have been much more profitable. Perhaps enough for a kebab.
In any case, I wonder if the website will be adding countries to the banner of shame? In the meantime thank goodness for proxies!
Quote from New Humanist.
Some people in Turkey found that over the weekend their server did not allow them to access the official Dawkins website. This is one example of attempted censorship restricting people’s access to the web. WordPress itself is restricted in Turkey. However, with a proxy people have been able to get around the prohibitions.
Right now it is unclear whether this was by mandate of court order, or a decision by the server. Speculation is that this post on the front site resulted in the ban or that it is the product of Islamic creationist efforts like those of Harun Yahya who wrote such classics as Darwinism Refuted and Atlas of Creation – which are given to schools free – who tried to have The God Delusion banned. The thread on the forum part of the site discussing the issue is here.
While the usual official banning notice came up, there was no link to the court order and reference number (as would be expected). Into this void we are left with speculation as to why this happened, or whether this was simply an accident or someone jumping the gun.
Richard Dawkins has talked about the freedom that computers and the internet give (see earlier blog here). That freedom will be challenged, under the guise of security, protection of vulnerable citizens or even as a promotion of freedom by denying others liberty to express dissenting opinions. We should be concerned, because we have a right to listen to what other people would say to us if they could.
I think there is a slight misconception that only the ungodly, laced with baby oil watching same sex pornography would want a secular state. They may well do, but they are not the only ones that may feel that such a state safeguards their freedoms to conscience, liberty and to pursue their own meaning while on this earth.
In Turkey at the moment the establishment is trying to unseat a democratically elected government on the basis that it is pro Islam – by means of the courts. While the government’s attempts to allow head scarves may be unconstitutional (the court could strike such laws down) to remove an elected government of the people after it is elected would not bode well. It could all be politics in trying to scupper EU membership. Either way even as a secularist I am concerned with what the court is doing.
There will be tensions in any pluralist society. People have a sense of justice, and conceptions of the common good differ. An appeal that my ideas belong to God, to Marx, to the Pope, to Friedman – when determining what action as a society we shall take we need a mechanism by which dissent can be managed, institutions which allow citizens to play their part, and a well ordered society that the whole thing does not descend into anarchy. The rules of the game need to be fair, and the consequences of following the rules people can live with the consequences, even if they may still disagree if on the loosing side.
Would such a society be best served by a government that was religious rather than not? Well the question would be which religion, what variant of creed. How is that decided and how is the government to act in its use of power? Will it give preference in legislation to its faith or to all?
It could be argued that a faith inspired government could tolerate and have equal laws for all faiths (including the officially recognized one). But when the power of the state acts with the authority of god, and determines what is true doctrine and how that impacts on what citizens can and cannot do on the basis of faith and not what citizens want and need there is a concern.
Not least because citizens become in the eyes of a faith government the means by which god’s will is done (the end). In effect legislation is done to be pleasing in his eyes; that does not mean that it will be for the earthly bound subjects. Your right to disagree with another faith means nothing when a faith claim (that an embryo has a soul) stops you from getting treatments or an abortion. That you may believe in Christ Jesus but reject the Trinity – but that puts you outside the one faith of the nation.
People are ends in themselves. To be treated with respect as individuals, liberty and people’s rights are important. The secular government attempts to stop the most dangerous thing that can happen – a real split between the people and the government on a matter that has often led to the bloody repression of citizens. That is faith which sees pluralistic democracy, and the State not enforcing power for God’s word as wrong.
Could we live in a “defender of faith” nation where all faiths and none are equal? That would be best of all in the secular state because not one faith is held above another by Government. It does not require that people that serve office pass a religious test, or refrain from having a religion. It stipulates that faith is not imposed upon people by the state.
Now my argument connects that living in a pluralistic society, with multiple ideas is one best served by the secular state. It is especially so when it comes to religion and also to ideology as well. This is where the criticism of secularism goes wrong when citing Communist countries or Nazi Germany as examples of evil done in secularism’s name. What has happened is that rather than a state sanctioned religion that will not tolerate dissent, an ideology has become state sanctioned in this way.
In essence the secular state should combat such acts by how the constitution is written. It is to prevent the abuse of power by or on behalf of the state infringing on your rights and mine to disagree or to think differently. Liberty is undermined if we allow the state to enact laws that will give one group of worshipers more rights and privileges then another group.
Does this mean that faith groups should not be allowed to lobby their points of view, or that their members should not be able to speak about their consciences? Well I would argue that they can, but their argument should not rest on having to believe their faith to agree – rather there should be a universal principle that exists independently of the claim that God’s will is at issue here - which even an atheist could in principle agree too. The validity of the claim is independent of whom issues it in the public sphere (God or man). In the private sphere you may voluntarily submit to such beliefs.
When we talk about reason in the public sphere we are talking about how do we resolve competing pluralistic views in a democracy that respects people as equal citizens? If that is to be achieved religious claims over the constitution, judiciary or legislative would be unproductive in coming to terms with resolving such issues in the body politic. It would not promote fairness or equality. A religious argument does not meet the requirements of public reason – by definition it can only be accepted if you believe that faith.
The cultural background and right of people to have a religion or none is assured. Indeed it is part of our humanity, our history. When asked if I thought religion should disappear in an interview I said it depended how you imagined that – I want the rights of people respected on all sides, the ability to disagree, the hope that reason and rational people will contemplate the importance of separating the church and state in protecting citizen’s liberty to be as they will.
In short the freedom of religion is a political value I agree with. But when it comes to rights that individuals have, religious claims do not trump them – not least because people become a means and not an end in public policy. In the political sphere religion undermines the liberty of others and the ability of the State in using public reason in the safeguarding of citizen’s rights.