Archive for Turkey

Pamela Geller Watch: “The 2012 Islamic Olympics” Conspiracy

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2012 by loonwatch

Pamela Geller

Pamela Geller

We haven’t covered Pamela Geller‘s bumbling, semi-coherent and illogical rants in quite some time now, mostly because she has become increasingly marginal and is viewed as, The Looniest Blogger Ever.

Geller has been consigned to the fanatical anti-Islam Right-wing though she is invited quite regularly on Conservative radio shows and networks. She gets airtime on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program (she was on this weekend talking about Obama’s “Muslim upbringing”) as well as with her buddy Eric Bolling.

So, for some comic relief we put up Geller’s most recent conspiracy creation, something she is calling “The 2012 Islamic Olympics”:

sick

Notice the prominence of all the Islamic nations’ flags. No Greek flags. The country that started the Olympics and whose existence is also an offence to the Ummah. (flag hat tip Armaros)

UPDATE: TRTD points out they are also using the old Saddam Hussein era Iraq flag. (on the right)
Also, the Democratic Republic of Congo (on top) is no longer in use as well.

Brilliant!

Barely visible are the US and UK flags. So why even ask about an Israeli flag? (hat tip Armaros)

Did Muslims know that the “existence” of Greece is an “offence to the Ummah”? Is there a verse in the Qur’an that I am missing relating to how God is displeased with Greece? Now, I know Greece and Turkey have some historical rivalry, but the whole “Ummah”?

Boy, that sure would be news to all those Greek Muslims, like this American Muslim scholar of Greek heritage, Hamza Yusuf:

Declaring War on ‘Political Islamism’

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by loonwatch
William KristolWilliam Kristol

The neocons have been around for decades, first to mobilize support against Soviet-led communism, and then, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to wage a so-called “Global War on Terrorism.”

As the architects of the spectacularly disastrous Iraq War, the necons should have been thoroughly discredited and relegated to the political fringe. Yet it seems these foreign policy hawks have simply retooled their message, founded a new think tank, and are poised to wreak havoc once again.

By Robert Parry

Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney has responded to his lack of foreign policy experience by surrounding himself with clever neoconservatives who are now looking forward to expanding Bush’s “global war on terror” into what neocon ideologue William Kristol calls a U.S. “war with political Islamism.”

In a Washington Post op-ed on Thursday, Kristol dismissed President Barack Obama’s phased military withdrawal from Afghanistan – and his statement that “this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end” – as foolish wishful thinking.

“It would be wonderful if Obama’s view of 9/11 and its implications were correct,” Kristol wrote. “But if it’s not going to be true that Afghanistan is where ‘this time of war … will end’ — even if Afghanistan is pacified and we’re no longer fighting there — then the American people should know that.”

What the American people should know, in Kristol’s view, is that a post-Obama administration – presumably headed by Republican Mitt Romney and staffed by neocon hawks – will undertake a grander “war with political Islamism,” a conflict whose full dimensions even “war president” George W. Bush shrank from.

“This isn’t a pleasant reality, and even the Bush administration wasn’t quite ready to confront it,” Kristol wrote. “But President George W. Bush did capture the truth that we are engaged in — and had no choice but to engage in — a bigger war, a ‘global war on terror,’ of which Afghanistan was only one front.

“There are, of course, problems with ‘global war on terror’ as a phrase and an organizing principle. But it does capture what we might call the ‘big’ view of 9/11 and its implications.”

As part of an even “bigger” view of 9/11, Kristol called for engaging in a broader conflict, ranging “from Pakistan in the east to Tunisia in the west, and most visibly now in places such as Iran and Yemen and Somalia.”

In other words, Kristol and the neocons expect a President Romney to let them refocus the United States onto a “war” not simply against al-Qaeda and its affiliates but against nations where “political Islamism” gains power, which could include Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries.

One might as well say the United States will be at war with the Muslim world, though Kristol hastily added that this “war with political Islamism” does not always have to involve open warfare.

He wrote: “This doesn’t mean we need to be deploying troops and fighting ground wars all around the globe. [But] unfortunately, the war in which we are engaged won’t end with peace in, or withdrawal from, Afghanistan.”

A Romney Presidency?

Most political analysts say the November elections will turn on the economy with foreign policy a second-tier issue. In addition, many progressives have denounced Obama and his more targeted approach of relying on drone strikes to kill alleged terrorists as unacceptable, with some on the Left vowing not to support his reelection.

But it shouldn’t be missed that a President Romney would reinstall the neocons, including many who worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, at the levers of American power. Indeed, Romney’s foreign policy “white paper” was largely drafted by neocons. Even the name, “An American Century,” was an homage to the neocon manifesto of the 1990s, “Project for a New American Century.”

Romney’s foreign policy advisers include:

Cofer Black, a key Bush counterterrorism official; Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security; Eliot Cohen, a neocon intellectual; Paula Dobriansky, a former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; Eric Edelman, a national security aide to Vice President Cheney; Michael Hayden, the ex-director of CIA and the National Security Agency who defended Bush’s warrantless spying program; Robert Kagan, a Washington Post columnist; former Navy Secretary John Lehmanand Daniel Senor, spokesman for Bush’s Iraq occupation.

Romney’s foreign policy also would restore George W. Bush’s “with us or against us” approach to the world – except that Romney, like Kristol, advocates even a more confrontational style, essentially a new Cold War against “rogue nations,” a revised “axis of evil.”

“A special problem is posed by the rogue nations of the world: Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba,” Romney’s white paper declares. “Their interests and values are diametrically opposed to our own and they threaten international peace and security in numerous ways, including, as in the case of North Korea and Iran, by seeking nuclear weapons, or by harboring criminal networks, exporting weapons, and sponsoring terrorists. …

“Mitt Romney would work to protect and advance America’s interests by employing all the instruments of national power at the president’s disposal. He will defend our country, defend our allies, and restore American leadership around the world. It is only American power — conceived in the broadest terms — that can provide the foundation of an international system that ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies. …

“A Romney foreign policy will proceed with clarity and resolve. The United States will clearly enunciate its interests and values. Our friends and allies will not have doubts about where we stand and what we will do to safeguard our interests and theirs; neither will our rivals, competitors, and adversaries. …

“The United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict. In defending America’s national interest in a world of danger, the United States should always retain a powerful military capacity to defend itself and its allies.”

No Apologies

The Romney “white paper” also treats any recognition of past American errors as unacceptable “apologizing” and calls any notion of seeking multilateral consensus on a problem as an admission of weakness.

“A perspective has been gaining currency, including within high councils of the Obama administration, that regards that United States as a power in decline. And not only is the United States regarded as in decline, but that decline is seen as both inexorable and a condition that can and should be managed for the global good rather than reversed.

“Adherents of this view argue that America no longer possesses the resources or the moral authority to play a leadership role in the world. They contend that the United States should not try to lead because we will only succeed in exhausting ourselves and spreading thin our limited resources.

“They counsel America to step aside, allow other powers to rise, and pursue policies that will ‘manage’ the relative change in our national fortunes. They recoil from the idea of American Exceptionalism, the idea that an America founded on the universal principles of human liberty and human dignity has a unique history and a special role to play in world affairs.

“They do not see an international system undergirded by American values of economic and political freedom as necessarily superior to a world system organized by multilateral organizations like the United Nations. Indeed, they see the United Nations as an instrument that can rein in and temper what they regard as the ill-considered overreaching of the United States.

“This view of America in decline, and America as a potentially malign force, has percolated far and wide. It is intimately related to the torrent of criticism, unprecedented for an American president, that Barack Obama has directed at his own country. …

“Among the ‘sins’ for which he has repented in our collective name are American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, for committing torture, for fueling anti-Islamic sentiments, for dragging our feet in combating global warming, and for selectively promoting democracy.

“The sum total of President Obama’s rhetorical efforts has been a form of unilateral disarmament in the diplomatic and moral sphere. A President who is so troubled by America’s past cannot lead us into the future. … Mitt Romney believes in restoring the sinews of American power.”

Hawks in the Middle East

As for the Middle East, Romney’s team advocates unquestioned support for Israel both regarding its treatment of the Palestinians and toward Iran:

“Israel is the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East and a beacon of democracy and freedom in the region. The tumult in the Middle East has heightened Israel’s security problems. Indeed, this is an especially dangerous moment for the Jewish state. …

“To ensure Israel’s security, Mitt Romney will work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge. … The United States must forcefully resist the emergence of anti-Israel policies in Turkey and Egypt, and work to make clear that their interests are not served by isolating Israel.

“With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Romney’s policy will differ sharply from President Obama’s. President Obama and his administration have badly misunderstood the dynamics of the region. Instead of fostering stability and security, they have diminished U.S. authority and painted both Israel and ourselves into a corner.

“President Obama for too long has been in the grip of several illusions. One is that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is the central problem in the region. This has been disproved repeatedly by events, most recently and most dramatically by the eruption of the Arab Spring.

“But it nonetheless led the administration to believe that distancing the United States from Israel was a smart move that would earn us credits in the Arab world and somehow bring peace closer. The record proves otherwise. The key to negotiating a lasting peace is an Israel that knows it will be secure. …

“[Under President Romney] the United States will reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

“The United States needs a president who will not be a fair-weather friend of Israel. The United States must work as a country to resist the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. We must fight against that campaign in every forum and label it the anti-Semitic poison that it is. Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is not up for debate.”

Regarding Iran, the Romney “white paper” repeats many of the canards about Iranian intentions that have been debunked even by Israelis, such as the mistranslation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement regarding “wiping Israel off the map.” But Romney’s neocon foreign policy team even suggests using that mistranslation to indict Ahmadinejad for war crimes:

“Romney will also push for greater diplomatic isolation of Iran. The United States should make it plain that it is a disgrace to provide Iran’s Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the trappings and respect offered to responsible heads of state. He should not be invited to foreign capitals or feted by foreign leaders.

“Quite the opposite. Given his calls for Israel to be wiped off the map, Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement to genocide under Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

So, even Americans disappointed in Obama’s foreign policy should recognize what the stakes are in November. They include whether to put hard-line neocons back in charge of U.S. foreign policy and the American military.

[To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege andNeck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

Turkey’s Top Muslim Cleric Slams Saudi Mufti Over His Call to Destroy Churches

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , on April 6, 2012 by loonwatch

The Saudi “Grand Mufti,” Shaikh Abdul Aziz Aal-Al-Shaykh caused outrage a few weeks ago when he said all churches in Kuwait should be “destroyed.” It must be pointed out that the Grand Mufti is not popularly elected by a consultative body, nor did he gain the position through any merit, such as being the highest learned Islamic scholar in Saudi Arabia.

The position of Saudi Grand Mufti is actually a political one, harking back to the alliance between the House of Saud and the House of Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab in the 18th century.

The Saudi Grand Mufti received his position through inheritance, the suffix appended to his name, “Aal-Al-Shaykh” in fact means “family of the Shaikh,” i.e. indicating he is a descendant of the 18th century Muslim reformer and founder of the Saudi Salafi/Wahhabi trend, Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab.

It is for these reasons that he is considered a lightweight when it comes to Islamic scholarship and is in fact derided by many Saudis from all walks of life.

Now Turkey’s top Muslim cleric has publicly condemned the Saudi Grand Mufti, declaring his statement to be invalid and a contradiction to Islam and its relations with other faiths (H/T: Ibn Abu Talib):

Turkey’s Top Muslim Cleric Slams Saudi Mufti Over His Call to Destroy Churches

ABDULLAH BOZKURT (Today’s Zaman)

Turkey’s top imam blasted the Saudi grand mufti’s call to “destroy all the churches” in the Gulf region, saying that the announcement is in total contradiction to the peaceful teachings of the Muslim religion.

Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Mehmet Görmez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, said he cannot accept the Islamic religious order –fatwa — issued by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Shaikh, adding that the mufti’s remarks run contrary to the centuries-old Islamic teachings of tolerance and the sanctity of institutions belonging to other religions.

He emphasized that Islam has always respected religious freedom. “The opinion of the grand mufti also obviously contradicts the agreements that the Prophet of Islam signed with the non-Muslim communities both in Medina and in the region. It also plainly overlooks the right of immunity given by Islam to the holy shrines and temples of other religions on the basis of the rule of law throughout its history,” Görmez explained.

Sheikh Abdulaziz reportedly made the controversial statement during a meeting with a delegation from the Kuwait-based Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage in response to a query about Shariah law concerning the construction of churches in Muslim countries.He issued the fatwa in March, saying that further church building should be banned and existing Christian houses of worship should be destroyed.

Görmez slammed Abdulaziz, stating, “We strongly believe that this declaration has left dark shadows upon the concept of rights and freedoms in Islam that have always been observed on the basis of its sources, and it will not be recorded as an opinion of Islam.”

He also added, “We, therefore, entirely reject the aforementioned opinion and hope that it will be amended as soon as possible.”

Turkey’s top Muslim cleric challenged the Saudi grand mufti’s assertions on the established principles in Islam. “We believe that the mentioned opinion is evidently against the aims of Islam, especially in a region that witnessed the descent of the Holy Quran and the first application of the Sunnah of the Prophet. It is against the Muslim tradition’s established practice of respecting non-Muslims’ rights as well,” he noted.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Tells Sarkozy Not to Incite to Islamophobia

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by loonwatch

Erdoğan takes a shot at Sarkozy’s crass populist antics:

PM tells Sarkozy not to incite to Islamophobia

(Today’s Zaman)

PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed on Tuesday that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is inciting racism and Islamophobia in France in order to get re-elected in the upcoming presidential elections. Erdoğan said resorting to xenophobia, particularly Islamophobia, to win elections is very irresponsible.

Depicting a recent bill Sarkozy’s center-right UMP initiated seeking to penalize the denial of Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as an act inciting the French to xenophobia, Erdoğan said the current president adopted a more aggressive stance after the bill was passed into law but then overruled by the French Constitutional Council, which deemed it unconstitutional. Erdoğan said the council had corrected a historic mistake by cancelling the law.

Valerie Boyer, a deputy from the UMP, initiated the genocide bill criminalizing the denial of the so-called Armenian genocide in December 2011. The bill was approved in the lower house of the French Parliament and in the French Senate in January. However, the constitutional council deemed it unconstitutional, stating that it violated the freedom of expression.

“Sarkozy is making xenophobia a matter of domestic politics, and issuing threatening remarks against foreigners in his country. This is in violation of the EU’s universal values and fundamental principles,” Erdoğan said. The French presidential elections will take place between April and May.

Is “Creeping Shariah” Coming to Hollywood? Liam Neeson Moved by “Mosques” and the “Call to Prayer”

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2012 by loonwatch
Liam_Neeson
Liam Neeson in “The Clash of the Titans”

Islamophobes and anti-Muslim haters are all in a tizzy about some kind words that Liam Neeson had to say about Islam and the “beautiful mosques” he encountered in Turkey. The Sun magazine, a British tabloid ran the sensational headline, Liam Neeson: I May Become a Muslim.

Apparently this is the statement they are basing his consideration of Islam on:

“The Call to Prayer happens five times a day and for the first week it drives you crazy, and then it just gets into your spirit and it’s the most beautiful, beautiful thing.

“There are 4,000 mosques in the city. Some are just stunning and it really makes me think about becoming a Muslim.”

To me it sounds like Liam is being nice and appreciating the beauty that he most likely is able to find in various cultures and traditions. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think his words are just hollow sentiment, I think he probably was truly impressed and perhaps he is considering Islam, but of course those who take perpetual offense cannot concede that anyone, let alone a “celebrity,” could see anything beautiful within Islam or Muslim countries.

The ever hysterical Debbie Schlussel for instance thinks Neeson should change his name to Al-Moron. Failed comic book writer Bosch Fawstin is also offended, as are are a plethora of other Islamophobes.

Perhaps they will chalk it up to the secret-Muslamic-creeping-Shariah take over of Hollywood?:

Liam Neeson: I may become a Muslim

(The Sun)

HOLLYWOOD star Liam Neeson is considering giving up his Catholic belief and becoming a Muslim.

The actor, 59, admitted Islamic prayer “got into his spirit” while filming in Turkish city Istanbul.

He said: “The Call to Prayer happens five times a day and for the first week it drives you crazy, and then it just gets into your spirit and it’s the most beautiful, beautiful thing.

“There are 4,000 mosques in the city. Some are just stunning and it really makes me think about becoming a Muslim.”

Liam was raised in Northern Ireland as a devout Catholic and altar boy and was named after the local priest.

But the star — whose wife Natasha Richardson died aged 45 in a skiing accident in 2009 — has spoken about challenges to his faith.

He said: “I was reared a Catholic but I think every day we ask ourselves, not consciously, what are we doing on this planet? What’s it all about?

“I’m constantly reading books on God or the absence of God and atheism.”

Liam was criticised in 2010 after claiming Narnia lion Aslan — voiced by him in the movies — is not based on Christ as CS Lewis had claimed but in fact all spiritual leaders including Mohammed.

His latest film The Grey, about an oil drilling team who crash in freezing Alaska, is released in the UK on Friday.

Fox News GOP Primary Debate: “1400% Increase in Murder Rate of Women in Turkey” Due to “Islamist Oriented” Government

Posted in Feature, Loon Media, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by loonwatch

Women_Murdered_Turkey

It is an understatement to say that violence against women is a serious issue today, as I wrote in a previous article titled, Rampant Sexual Harassment of Women…in the West, “women are mistreated across the globe, across cultures, races, and religions at unfortunately high and gross levels.” This was proven with empirical evidence and scholarly analysis from various studies.

In the intro of the article I reminded readers that Islamphobes,

love to trot out the talking point that Muslims (due to Islam of course) are unique in harassing and oppressing women. According to them, anytime a Muslim man harasses or otherwise assaults a woman it is considered a result of Islam or somehow encouraged by “Islamic behavior.”

This belief, however, is not limited to anti-Muslim bigots but has also crept into the popular imagination and perception of the mainstream.

It is within that context that we review another recent manifestation of this “anti-Muslim talking point” creeping into the mainstream. As many of those who watched the recent South Carolina GOP Presidential Primary debate are aware, Fox News’s Brett Baier asked Gov. Rick Perry about Turkey’s “Islamist oriented” government, and what our relationship should be towards them (Turkey is one of our oldest allies). He set up the question this way,

“Since the Islamist oriented party took over in Turkey the murder rate of women has increased 1400% there…”

My jaw dropped when I heard that, what an astronomical and frankly unbelievable number! The clear implication was that the “increase in violence” was related to the rule of the so-called “Islamist oriented” AKP party. Once again something “Islam” or “Islam” related was being cast as the source and cause of violence.

Imagine the effect this had on those watching the debate? It either reinforced or created the perception that Islam and Muslims are incredibly violent towards women, and that any “Islam” oriented political party will result in a degradation of women’s rights.

Brett Baier’s question was extremely misleading to say the least. It provided no context or evidence linking the AKP party to the “increase” in murders. To say that the AKP is “Islamist oriented” is misleading as well, a more appropriate analogy may have been to the “Christian Democratic” parties in Europe.

I have found conflicting origins on the source of the “1400% increase” statistic. On some news outlets we learn that the figures were released by Women’s Rights lawyer Aydeniz Alisbah Tuskan,

The figures are based on data issued by lawyer Aydeniz Alisbah Tuskan, Co-ordinator of the Istanbul Bar Association Centre for Women’s Rights.

while others claim it was the Ministry of Justice,

According to the data of the Ministry of Justice, the number of women murders increased by factor 14 between 2002 and 2009. While 66 women were killed in 2002, this figure raised to 953 women murders in 2009. The development of the increase was documented as follows: 83 women murders in 2003; 128 in 2004; this figure more than doubled in 2005 with 317 women killings; again a sharp increase with 663 in 2006; a peak of 1011 women murders in 2007 and a small decrease in numbers in 2008 with 806 women murders.

Regardless of the source there seems to be agreement on the numbers. Tuskan in her report also added another startling fact regarding violence towards women,

The data revealed an additional startling dimension of the problem: 85 percent of about 2000 annually registered divorce applications in Istanbul are based on violence.

According to Tuskan the reason for this explosion in the number of divorce applications stemming from violence is, “based on the fact that women do not endure violence as they used to do in the past.”

This however does not address the increase in the number of murders. As Elif Shafak asks in her Guardian article, Turkey Opens it’s Eyes to Domestic Violence,

Are violent incidents against women on the rise in Turkey? Or is it just that we are finally getting a clearer picture of something that has been happening at the heart of Turkish society for some time?

If one were to listen to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it has been his government that has started compiling these statistics, whereas before his administration statistics on the issue were not even “calculated,”

While numerous sources argued over the last week that violence against women increased by 1,400 percent in the past seven years, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said earlier this week that the issue was presented as if violence against women was on the rise. Highlighting that they would not ignore a single act of violence, Erdoğan said: “Before we started keeping track of this, statistics on the issue were not even calculated and no one was aware of these incidents. … I expect a responsible approach from both the opposition and the media over the matter and I say that, with solidarity and responsibility, we can decrease violence to the lowest level.”

I don’t see any reason to doubt Erdoğan’s assertion, however it would be vital to verify.

Either way, the statement from Erdoğan clearly contradicts Brett Baier’s misleading assertion that the so-called “Islamist-oriented” AKP which Erdoğan heads is the cause or root of the violence.

Erdoğan also went on to say,

“Violence against women is remorselessness, ruthlessness and, I say this without hesitation, contemptible”

Not really the evil, misogynist Islamic terrorist that Baier and Rick Perry thought ruled Turkey, aye?

Since the stats came out on the number of murders and incidences of violence directed against women there has been an intense debate on the subject in Turkey. It is no longer a taboo subject locked behind closed doors. There have also been massive grassroots campaigns and new legislation countering the violent trend,

In recent months, both print and visual media in Turkey have been running story after story about domestic violence: ex-husbands who shoot their ex-wives in front of their children, abusive husbands who come back to kill, boyfriends or fiancés who cannot forgive being dumped and seek revenge.

As disheartening as the situation is, there is also a growing reaction and a grassroots movement to stop it. Nowadays it is widely acknowledged that violence against women is not only confined to a few uneducated families in remote undeveloped regions. More importantly, until today, it was mainly assumed that such cases were a “family affair”. If a husband was beating his wife, this was their problem. Now this assumption is fully debunked. More and more public figures are coming out to say that domestic violence is everyone’s business and we should, as a society, interfere.

Family and social policies minister Fatma Sahin has announced that abusive husbands will be kept away from their homes with the help of electronic handcuffs. A group of men in the eastern province of Van have organised a significant march to protest at male violence. The group’s speaker proclaimed: “We are ashamed of men who attack women and do so in the name of manhood.”

University students are marching on the streets, women’s organisations are collecting signatures. Through blogs, websites, magazines, fanzines, panels and conferences activists are raising their voices, singers give concerts to honour women who have been victims of killings, writers and poets condemn the violence openly and contest it with their words. And yet, all this is not enough. Unless we change the way we raise our sons and discard our belief that they are superior to our daughters, unless we mothers stop treating our sons as the sultans in the house, nothing will be enough.

Lastly, it should be highlighted that Brett Baier’s misleading question is damaging most of all because it obfuscates the true issue of violence directed at women. It deflects from the root causes (cultural norms, cultural traditions, patriarchy) in exchange for the easy Orientalist scapegoat–Islam.

As Ilisha pointed out in her article on Honor Killing, by focusing on Islam, anti-Muslim Islamophobes are actually doing a disservice to those who are truly challenging violence towards women. Brett Baier’s question had the added effect of dehumanizing a whole nation, and I echo Ilisha’s call that Islamophobes, “give up their vicious campaign against Islam and join us in the struggle to end violence against women from all cultural and religious backgrounds.”

UPDATE I:

For further information on this topic I suggest reading The Journal of Turkish Weekly, which conducted an exclusive interview with Dilek Karal, a specialist at USAK Center for Social Studies regarding violence against women. According to Karal, there is no way to solidly identify whether murders against women have increased or decreased,

How should we read violence against women in Turkey? How accurate is it to say that violence has drastically increased in recent years?

D. Karal: There are a lot of factors which can trigger violence such as sociocultural factors, economic factors, and psychological factors in the environment where people grow up. We need to look at what conditions they become prominent under. The efforts shall target eliminating the roots of these factors. However this is not limited to the motto which is liberally used in Turkey—“education is a must”. Educated people also beat their spouses or commit different kinds of violence against them. Education is just one dimension. The issue should be tackled with integrated multi-agency policies. It is compulsory to operate family and child services efficiently, and formalize different environments where boys and girls grow up to not normalize the violence. All in all, violence as a phenomenon needs to leave our lives altogether.

For instance, Turkish Ministry of Justice 2010 data shows violence against women has increased 1400% during the last seven years. This is a very big number. According to some other data during the first seven months of 2010; 226 women were murdered while 478 women were raped and 722 women sexually abused. There are a lot of similar cases. Over 100,000 women suffered from sexual attacks. Although the numbers are as such, they cannot present us solid data regarding whether the violence has increased or decreased. This is because there are certain problems in evaluating statistical data in Turkey. The fact that they are being presented in a systematic fashion in recent years can be interpreted as the invisible tip of the iceberg slowly surfacing.

In other words, violence against women existed before as well but can now be better measured with in-depth research, which has made the issue more apparent. Without longitudinal studies it is very difficult to understand if the violence has increased or not. However, we need to underline that the existing circumstances in the context of this issue are already too tragic. According to Hacettepe University’s research, 39% of the women in this country (more than a third) are victims of physical violence and 15% are victims of sexual violence. 42% of women say that they have experienced a form of one or the other. The interesting part is the women who experienced violence did not make appeals to official units or to non-governmental organizations. More than half of them shared the situation with just close relatives. Only 8% of the women requested help from official units. This rate is very low. In a society where violence is skyrocketing, this low rate points to ignorance. Women either do not see themselves sufficient socioeconomically or they normalize violence in a sociocultural sense.

UPDATE II:
I also came across figures on murders of women since 2009 in the article, “This is a Civil War…” There is a large discrepancy between 2009 (1,126 murders) and 2010 (217 murders). If one were to be disingenuous regarding the issue, one could claim a massive decrease in murders!:

Here is the number of women murdered by year:

2002 – 66

2003 – 83

2004 – 164

2005 – 317

2006 – 663

2007 – 1,011

2008 – 806

2009 – 1,126

2010 – 217

Wajahat Ali: How turkey came to our Thanksgiving table

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2011 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from Salon)

Once shunned by my Muslim family, the bird finally found a place in our home, just like so many American traditions

By: Wajahat Ali

My Pakistani and American Muslim social circles celebrate Thanksgiving each year alongside our Eid festivities and Super Bowl Sunday parties, featuring homemade guacamole dip, chips and samosas. But it wasn’t always like this. For my family, this marriage between East and West was three decades in the making.

The 1980s:  An “Amreekan Holiday”

As a child, I often asked my mother what we were eating for Thanksgiving.

“Food,” she replied matter-of-factly.

“Are we eating a turkey?” I asked.

“No, only Amreekans eat turkey.”

Any immigrant or child of immigrants understands that “Amreekan” is a code word for “the mainstream,” which really means “white people.” In addition to celebrating Thanksgiving with a turkey, here are some other things we learned only “Amreekans” do:

  • Wear shoes inside the home
  • Receive “time out” as a valid form of punishment for unruly behavior
  • Talk back to elders
  • Have sex before marriage
  • Put grandparents in senior homes
  • Sleep over at friends’ homes
  • Tattoos
  • Christmas trees
  • Cable television
  • Shop at stores other than Ross, K-Mart, outlet stores, Marshalls and Mervyns (RIP)

Now, I don’t begrudge my parents their position toward turkey. It’s a confounding bird for most immigrants, who are generally more comfortable with the bleats of a goat or a lamb, the squawks of the simple-minded chicken. The turkey was an enigma: a heavy, feathered bird with its “gobbledygook” mutterings, freakish red wattle and vast supply of dry, juiceless meat.

“Do the Amreekans realize it is dry?” ask my still perplexed relatives living in Pakistan. “Where is the masala? The taste? The juices? Why do they eat this bird?”

Besides, most first-generation immigrants in America retain the romantic, deluded concept that “We will eventually go back home to the Motherland.” They will never be “Amreekan.”

Of course, they never do go back and instead firmly plant their familial, cultural, economic, religious and political roots in this foreign yet welcoming “Amreekan” soil. They have second-generation kids — yours truly — who are as “Amreekan” as apple pie, burritos and biryani.

And so Thanksgiving traditions began to leak into our old-school immigrant mentality. I watched the annual Macy’s parade, hoping to see a Spider-Man float. I played Super Mario on my Nintendo and looked forward to spending the evening with Snoopy, Linus, Charlie Brown and the gang, all the while eating a traditional Pakistani dinner. No turkey — yet.

The ’90s: Introducing the Thanksgiving Chicken

In my teen years, I discovered hair in new places and found the courage to demand authentic “Amreekan” requests from my parents.

“Give me turkey, woman!” I once commanded my mother for the upcoming Thanksgiving festivities.

“Here’s some money. You buy it and make it yourself if you like it so much,” she replied.

Foiled again. She knew my inherent culinary uselessness and overall laziness far too well. Well played, Mother. Well played.

During this decade of grunge and Bill Clinton, the immigrant generation in our family gradually replaced the “We will go back to the motherland” mantra with disillusioned rants about how “The motherland is going to hell” after they returned from visiting.

American pop culture effortlessly coexisted within the confines of our Pakistani-American home. Visiting from college one day, I descended the stairs to Nusrat belting out a qawwali in Punjabi. Moments later my father changed the track to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” He was in the kitchen rubbing traditional South Asian spices into pieces of steak he would later cook on his brand-new George Foreman grill.

My mother relented to my requests and made a meal on Thanksgiving. Instead of cooking a turkey, though, she insisted on roasting two whole chickens.

“What’s the point of having a chicken on Thanksgiving of all days?” I asked. “It’s like passing out omelets to kids on Easter instead of colored eggs.”

“I like chickens. I can cook a chicken. Chickens are tasty,” my mother replied. “I’m not wasting my time cooking a dry bird.”

She ruled the kitchen with an Iron Ladle.

But the consumption of “some form of a bird” on Thanksgiving was remarkable progress toward fully celebrating this Amreekan holiday. Furthermore, the religious clergy in our communities realized the obvious: Thanksgiving dinner is actually harmonious with Muslim values. After all, aren’t we reconciling with our family and communities and being thankful and grateful for all of our blessings? Isn’t that what Muslims are supposed to do on a daily basis?

Score one for theology in supporting rational arguments to consume dead birds.

That night, we ate two fully roasted whole chickens (quite tasty), and my mother also made basmati rice, daal (lentls), chicken khorma (curry) and kheema (South Asian ground beef.)

It wasn’t perfect — but it was a start.

The new century: Let there be turkey

The 21st century opened the culinary floodgates. It was a brave new world. Turkeys were unleashed to South Asian and Muslim American homes on Thanksgiving with wild abandon. No American holiday would be left unattended and no holiday sale would be forsaken by the immigrant communities! The musings of “going back to the motherland” have now transformed into semi-annual visits to see relatives and nothing more.

Even Muslim butchers are readily selling Halal turkeys in their local community shops. (Halal meat refers to animals slaughtered according to Islamic custom similar to Kosher slaughtering practices for Jews).

2002 was the “Great Turkey Explosion,” when Chandni, the neighborhood South Asian restaurant/wedding reception hall/religious ceremony hall/miscellaneous space used for all celebrations, started offering an “authentic Thanksgiving buffet” for $11 on Nov. 24-25. I had heard rumors of this awesomeness, but I had to drive there and witness morsels of turkey flesh swimming in a broth of fat and oil to believe it myself. And, lo and behold, in front of the South Asian buffet table — which featured lamb karahi, chicken tikka masala, and saag ghosht (spinach with meat) — there was “Thanksgiving” buffet table with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and bread rolls.

In our home, my father made the official decree that the Ali family would now and forever more eat turkey on Thanksgivings – provided he could successfully cook it, which meant “Not cooking it like the Amreekans who always make it too dry.” He felt ambitious in his old age and wanted to test his expanding baking skills by finally tackling the Gobbling-Goliath.

His initial attempt in 2003 was conservative, baking the turkey over several hours as per custom. There was also corn. The mother made some chicken khorma as emergency along with Basmati rice. Some cans of mango and lime pickle achar (relish) were opened just in case. The turkey was both edible and tasty. The family had successfully conquered the mythical bird and stuffed it with so much masala juice it developed a South Asian accent, bhangra dance moves, good credit and IT tech support skills.

A few years later, the family decided to up the ante and “brine” the turkey after some intense Googling sessions researching “Best Way to Cook + Turkey.” This time, we added gravy, mashed potatoes and soft rolls to the menu, along with corn.

Some Thanksgiving staples, however, remained foreign. Yams could only be justified if it was added with meat to a curry. Pumpkins were still regarded as an “exotic vegetable” only to be seen and carved on Halloween. Cranberry sauce was something you drank out of a bottle as a juice concentrate and never ate on the side. “Stuffing” was still only understood as a verb and not an edible noun.

Fast-forward a few years to 2011, and lo and behold, our turkeys have been successfully baked, roasted, brined, deep fried — and thoroughly enjoyed. The annual turkey now sits on a large dining table next to homemade sweet yams, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn bread, rolls, corn on the cob, and store-bought pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. And yes, there is always a South Asian curry dish just in case.

We also wash down the gluttony with the American Muslim version of Cristal: Martinelli’s Apple Cider.

But this isn’t just a story about how we integrated a strange-looking bird into our dinners. It’s how my American Muslim Pakistani family integrated into the American cultural fabric. It’s the same messy, colorful but inevitable way immigrants all over enter the American narrative, bringing their own flavors to collide, merge and spill outside the pot.

It’s as Amreekan as turkey and chicken khorma.

Wajahat Ali continues to awkwardly pray in Gap stalls.  He is a playwright, attorney and journalist.  His first play, “The Domestic Crusaders,” was recently published by McSweeney’s.  He is currently writing an HBO pilot with Dave Eggers.