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Media Watch 2005

09 March 2005
Source: Turkish Daily News
Author:
Comment:
Why are we frightened of minorities?
" These people [Greeks and Armenians] either donated their property to their churches, or the churches themselves purchased it. In time, we seized some of it, and for the rest we banned them from hammering even a single nail. We made them incapable of doing anything... A group of women hold a rally. It doesn't matter what the rally is about. They are just voicing their opinion... Do you think they deserved to be attacked violently, pulled through the streets and get their faces smashed? Did they have to be treated this way? Who is ordering the police to do such things? What kind of people are in charge of these policemen? What happened to Turkey adhering to the Copenhagen criteria?

A 70-million-strong Turkey is clearly frightened of its few-hundred-thousand non-Muslim citizens. Can there be any other reason why the foundations law has not yet been passed?

Turkey has a "taboo" subject and such a deep-seated fear of it that almost no one knows about it, and very few people have the courage to say something on the matter.

I'm talking about the properties of non-Muslim foundations.

Most belong to Greek Orthodox and Armenian foundations. Others, such as the Jews and the Syriacs, also own property.

These people either donated their property to their churches, or the churches themselves purchased it. In time, we seized some of it, and for the rest we banned them from hammering even a single nail. We made them incapable of doing anything.

We tied our non-Muslim citizens' hands. In a country where 99 percent of the citizens are Muslim, we are frightened of 1 percent.

What is most interesting is the fact that our discrimination campaign was waged by two opposite sides for different reasons, but the result was the same.

The pro-religion side of the state imposed restrictions in the name of "protecting Islam." It forced the arrest of those who distributed free Bibles, and it banned missionaries.

The secular side of the state, on the other hand, continually imposed bans to keep tabs on religious foundations.

These efforts eventually created significant confusion. Today we want to become a European Union member, but we can't see any way of resolving this matter.

There are still those who resist any improvement.

From the military we hear: "If we lift these bans, all religious foundations will benefit."

Interior affairs objects for national security reasons, while segments of society classified as "religious" or "concerned" argue that any improvement would harm Islam.

Can't you just imagine what's happening? In a country of 70 million we are frightened of a few-hundred-thousand non-Muslims.

We are worried about them establishing churches and continuing to exist with the help of their foundations.

What do you think they'll do?

Are they going to distribute free books and convert all 70 million of us to Christianity? Will the missionaries succeed in persuading society? Will their foundations become so rich that they will divide up the country?

How can this even be taken seriously?

I can't understand why the foundations law hasn't been passed yet.

Police fail the test:

To tell you the truth, I can't make sense of it all. A group of women hold a rally. It doesn't matter what the rally is about. They are just voicing their opinion.

"But they failed to get permission for the rally. They didn't lodge an application. In other words, they violated the law."

Do you think they deserved to be attacked violently, pulled through the streets and get their faces smashed? Did they have to be treated this way?

Who is ordering the police to do such things?

What kind of people are in charge of these policemen?

What happened to Turkey adhering to the Copenhagen criteria?

We had expected something different. We thought the Interior Ministry would have been extra cautious on such issues. It was supposed to educate the police officers and tell them how to act.

It appears our hopes were all in vain."