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Turkey

‘Optimism of the Intellect’? How to Stay Hopeful in the Wake of Turkey’s Referendum Results

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Following the constitutional referendum in Turkey, which resulted in a narrow victory for the “Yes” camp (with fifty-one percent of the voters approving the constitutional changes that grant President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unprecedented powers), pundits rushed to portray a grim picture, mourning “the death of Turkish democracy.” In an op-ed for Foreign Policy, titled “RIP Turkey, 1921-2017,” Steven Cook claimed that with this victory, Erdoğan not only “permanently closed a chapter of his country’s modern history” but also closed off the prospect that Turkey could become a democracy. Similarly, Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker argued, “after fifteen years of riding the ...

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Media on Media Roundup (April 19)

[Turkish citizens voting for the referendum in Diyarbakir. Photo by Mahmut Bozarslan, Wikimedia Commons]

This week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup covers important stories affecting the MENA mediascape. In Turkey, a historic referendum resulted in the expansion of President Erdogan’s powers, which many journalists and professionals fear will increase authoritarianism in the country. In an exclusive interview with AFP, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad stated that allegations of chemical attacks in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, are false and fabricated by Western media to justify US attacks on a Syrian military airbase. In an opinion piece for Middle East Eye, columnist Gregory Shupak notes the dangers of US media framing the attack on Shayrat airbase in Syria in moral terms, ...

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Turkey’s Constitutional Referendum: A Roundtable

[Members of Parliament vote on the constitutional amendments at the heart of the upcoming referendum, January 2017. Photo by Yıldız Yazıcıoğlu.]

Roundtable Introduction The day is near. This coming Sunday, 16 April 2017, citizens of Turkey will make their way to the polls to vote on a constitutional referendum that will inexorably alter the Turkish government. The referendum, which consists of eighteen proposed amendments to the Constitution of Turkey, has as its main goal the overhaul of the executive branch; perhaps most drastically, it would do away with the position of prime minister, thereby transforming the presidency from being a ceremonial position as head of state into the sole leadership position of the executive branch. Under the proposed amendments, the president would also have greater discretion to ...

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Between Slow and Sudden Death in Turkey

On 25 February 2017, the picture of a young male academic who committed suicide in Turkey went viral on the social media. The photo was hashtagged with #MehmetFatihTras and the line underneath the hashtag reads: “This is a murder. Try the murderers!” Wearing hipster eyeglasses, a hooded jacket, and a bag pack, Mehmet Fatih Tras has recently completed his doctorate degree in Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences at Cukurova University in Turkey. Upon the receipt of his PhD, he was made multiple job offers from universities in Turkey. However, university presidents interrupted the recruitment process and terminated his contract without any justification. His ...

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تأملات في صناعة صورة الموت؛ اغتيال السفير

[قاتل السفير الروسي في انقرة.]

فكرة "الذات" الفلسفيّة، هي فكرة حديثة، جاءت مع عصر التنوير الأوروبي والنزعة الإنسانيّة، فالذات المفكرة والواعيّة تجد تعبيرها الوجودي الميلادي الأول في بيان ديكارت الشهير: "أنا أفكر، إذن أنا موجود"، أو ماعُرف بـ"الكوجيطو"، وبالتالي فوجودية الذات تتحدد بكونها "ذاتًا" ذات تصور ابستمولوجي، أي بوصفها ذاتًا "مفكرة عارفة"، في مقابل "موضوع" معروف ومحكوم، فيما نسميه ازدواجيّة/ثنائيّة "الذات والموضوع". وإذا كان النقد ما بعد البنيويّ وما بعد الحداثيّ يقول بأن نهايّة "الذات" دلالة على نهايّة العصر الحديث أو دلالة على خاتمته، فثمة حاجة إلى تأمل الذات وعمليّة التفكير (الكوجيطو)، والموضوع المفكّر فيه. أيّ ...

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Media on Media Roundup (December 20)

[A protest against the Turkish government's crackdown against opposition newspaper Zaman. Photo from Turkey Purge]

This week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup deals with a number of issues that occupied the media scene in the region, from the end of the battle over Aleppo to the state of journalism during 2016 and the cultural misrepresentation of Muslims on the BBC. After a four-year battle over the Syrian city of Aleppo, government-led forces have been described as "somewhat victorious" as they hold control over the entire city, initiating an evacuation process for the remaining civilians in the city. The events were met with major waves of criticism over social media, specifically with the international community’s impotence in light of news reporting on a major ...

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Media on Media Roundup (November 17)

[Trump following his election victory on 9 November 2016. Photo from Wikimedia Commons]

In this week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup: The United States has elected Donald Trump. As the dust settles from last Tuesday’s elections, global media outlets have reacted differently to Trump’s victory, including Arab media outlets, whose reactions varied according to their respective political affiliations. Many have criticized the Arab media’s coverage of the US presidential race, claiming that they have adopted the American liberal media’s narrative. Moreover, criticism has also been directed towards pro-Sisi media outlets in Egypt, after they joyfully cheered Trump’s victory. Turkey’s representative for Reporters Without Borders will be placed on trial ...

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الجدل حول سوريا يصل إلى طريق مسدود

[المصدر: موقع حركة المجتمع التعددي]

[اضغط/ي هنا للنسخة الإنجليزية من المقال] روايتان متصارعتان تهيمنان على النقاشات، وكلتاهما لا تقدمان حلا  يشعر كل المتتبعين لأخبار سوريا المؤلمة الآن بحالة من التشبع بالمعلومات والأرقام والتحليلات والمعلومات المضللة التي ظهرت منذ عام 2011 وحتى وقتنا الحالي. الكثير منا تبنى روايته الخاصة للأحداث وهذا هو الحال سواء كنا من المتابعين لسوريا خلال العقدين الماضيين أو بدأنا فجأة بمتابعتها منذ 2011. وللأسف، ففي ضوء الطبيعة المثيرة للجدل للمعلومات التي تصلنا عن هذا البلد، وخصوصا في الظروف الراهنة، فإن بلورة هذه الروايات قابلة بالتأكيد للشكوك أو لرأي منطقي مضاد. أما الأسوأ من هذا فهو هذا الانجذاب المتزايد نحو روايتين محددتين : أ) تلك التي تتحدث عن "ثورة ...

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An Emergent Political Icon on the Landscape of Istanbul: The Palace of (In)Justice

[A protest outside the Palace of Justice. Photograph by Ayşe Öncü.]

[A protest outside the Palace of Justice. Photograph by Ayşe Öncü] All the anomalies of authoritarianism in contemporary Turkey seem telescoped, or short circuited in Istanbul’s “Palaces of Justice” (Adalet Sarayı). One of these “palaces” is on the Anatolian side in Kartal, and two in Europe, in Çağlayan and Bakırköy. These are all brand new buildings, inaugurated one after another by the incumbent AKP (Justice and Development Party) during its ten-year tenure in office. Monumental in scale, they have been designed to centralize all thirty-five district courts dispersed in different parts of the city under one roof. And, akin to many attention-grabbing construction ...

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Media on Media Roundup (October 12)

[Bombing of Sanaa dating back to 11 May 2015. Photo by Ibrahem Qasim, Wikimedia Commons]

This week, Jadaliyya's "Media on Media" roundup takes a closer look at the media industry in the Middle East.  In the shadow of Syria’s inconsistent media coverage, an entrepreneurial journalist has developed a platform which uses geo-tracking to collect social media from and on conflict zones. The platform can directly benefit investigative journalists in areas where conflict-zones are too dangerous to monitor physically. Zawya has released an updated report on Arab reality television released in 2015-2016, an indicator of the popularity of reality TV shows in the Arab world. At the same time, the demand for more Islamic-themed media content has led to ...

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Neo-Ottoman Architecture and the Transnational Mosque: An Interview with Kishwar Rizvi

[Kocatepe Mosque, Ankara. Image by Kishwar Rizvi]

Mosques are enduring architectural and institutional features of Muslim communities throughout the world, and thus it is natural to encounter large mosque complexes that occupy prominent positions within the cityscapes of the Middle East and beyond. Yet among the many historical mosques and buildings in the region’s oldest cities, there are also buildings of surprisingly recent provenance and many old sites with newly renovated interiors and facades, such as the Blue Mosque in downtown Beirut or the Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara. These buildings are examples of what Kishwar Rizvi calls “the transnational mosque,” a particular place of worship constructed by nation states of ...

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Commemorating the Failed Coup in Turkey

[Statue of Honor, also known as the Ataturk Monument, Samsun, Turkey. Image by Cobija via Wikimedia Commons.]

The coup attempt of 15 July 2016 was a major surprise to political actors in Turkey and observers outside Turkey alike. In the days before 15 July there was a surprising rapprochement between the AKP government and the Turkish army in the face of renewed war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Observers were focused on Turkey’s strained relations with the European Union on the one hand, and the United States on the other; worried about human rights violations and freedom of expression; concerned about the increasingly aggressive presence of the Islamic State in Turkey. No one expected that the Turkish army, taken seemingly under control in the last decade, would ...

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Turkey After the Referendum: A Roundtable

Turkey Page Editors’ Introduction On 16 April 2017, amidst widespread reports of electoral fraud, a slim majority of those casting votes in Turkey voted to approve a referendum, which has as its main goal the overhaul of the executive branch. Most significantly, it does away with the position of prime minister, thereby transforming the presidency from being a ceremonial position as head of state into the sole leadership position of the executive branch. Opposition politicians and dissident journalists ...

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Turkiye'nin Anayasa Referandumu: Elestirel Bir Forum

Foruma Giriş Büyük gün yakın. Önümüzdeki Pazar günü Türkiye hükümetinin yapısını baştan aşağı değiştirecek olan anayasa referandumu oylanacak. Önerilen 18 maddeden oluşan bu referandumun esas hedefi yürütme erkini elden geçirmek olup, en dikkat çeken değişim hedefi ise Başbakanlığı tamamıyla yok etmektir. Dolayısıyla Cumhurbaşkanlığı sadece sembolik bir pozisyonda kalmayıp, tam aksine yürütme erkinin tek liderine dönüşecek. Önerilen maddeler kapsamında, Cumhurbaşkanı tek başına bakan, yargıç ve diğer ...

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Why a Turkish Woman Artist Must Dare to Disappoint - A STATUS/الوضع Interview with Ozge Samanci

In this interview for STATUS/الوضع, host Julie Hakim Azzam speaks with Ozge Samanci about her difficult journey to actualize her dream to be an artist in her debut graphic novel, Dare to Disappoint: Growing up in Turkey. Ozge Samanci is author of the debut graphic novel, Dare to Disappoint: Growing up in Turkey (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015) and Assistant Professor in the Radio/Television/ Film department at Northwestern University's School of Communications. She has an extensive ...

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Call for Action: Solidarity with Purged Academics for Peace in Turkey

[The following call for action and fundraising appeal was issued by the Research Institute for Turkey, Bostonbul, GIT North America, and concerned academics from the United States and Candada.] There have been several crackdowns on academics in Turkey. Many have been detained, jailed, and even dismissed from their posts through statutory decrees. Among them are the “Academics for Peace,” who signed a declaration for ceasing human rights violations in the Kurdish provinces. Signed by 2,212 academics in ...

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The Turkish State of Emergency and LGBT+ Kurds

After the end of the peace negotiations between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK) in July 2015, Kurdish cities witnessed massive destruction. The destruction was accompanied by racist and sexist graffiti messages by Turkish government forces in many of the wrecked areas. Then, following the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016, a three-month state of emergency was declared by the Erdoğan government, extended again for another three months, blurring the boundaries of ...

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Media on Media Roundup (November 22)

In this week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup: The battle between the Turkish government and Turkish media continues. Hezbollah flexes its muscles in Syria, and the moon is ready for its close up. According to a recent report published by Freedom House, Turkey has been downgraded to "not free" status as a result of the increasing government clampdown on media. In a counter-offensive, Turkish opposition outlets have begun courting international support, while TRT, a pro-Erdoğan state ...

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Letter to Turkish Prime Minister Concerning Emergency Decrees Targeting Academia in Turkey

[The following letter was issued by the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association on 7 November 2016 in response to the onging emergency decrees that have targeted academia in Turkey.] Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım Office of the Prime Minister Başbakanlık 06573 Ankara Turkey Dear Prime Minister Yıldırım: We write on behalf of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) of North America and its Committee on Academic Freedom to express our increasing concern and ...

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HDP Statement: The End of Democracy in Turkey

[The following statement was issued on 4 November 2016 by Turkey's People's Democratic Party (HDP) in response to the latest escalation in the Turkish government's repression of any and all political movements it deems threatening to its rule.] The End of Democracy in Turkey Last night the purge of President Erdogan against our party has reached another peak: our Co-Chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag, along with 11 further Members of Parliament of our party have been detained across Turkey ...

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United in Nationalism: Notes on the Aftermath of the Failed Coup Attempt in Turkey

As is by now well known, on 15 July 2015 some segments of Turkey’s military forces attempted a coup against the country’s elected Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. On the night of the coup attempt, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, one of the founders of the ruling party, called on the people to defend democracy against the coup organizers. That night, thousands risked their lives and took to the streets, which were occupied by military tanks, to side with the elected government. In a world ...

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Media on Media Roundup (October 4)

This week, Jadaliyya's "Media on Media" roundup highlights media response to the death of Israeli leader Shimon Peres. Mainstream western media eulogized Peres by leaving out a key population affected by his policies; meanwhile, Israeli media took the liberty of summarizing Arab media’s reaction to his death. In a critical look at foreign correspondence, this Ahram article dissects a recently published, critically-hailed article in The New York Times Magazine entitled “Fractured ...

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Turkey’s Cyclical Coups

Turkey has faced an unprecedented number of crises in the last year. The spillover from the war in Syria has undermined a peace process between the government and the country’s Kurdish community, with the success of Syrian Kurdish militias on the border with Turkey producing fears of separatism among Turkey’s Kurds and prompting the government to relaunch a counter-insurgency campaign (read: war) in the largely Kurdish southeastern provinces. Nationwide, the country has experienced at least five major ...

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Between 'Sultanism' and Liberal Democracy: The Peculiarities of a Failed Coup in Turkey

The dominant mainstream Western media narrative regarding the failed military coup in Turkey revolves around the theme of a democratically-elected leader going mad and suddenly becoming an autocrat. It reminds one of the good old themes of “sultanism” or “oriental despotism.” Of course, the massive purges that are currently taking place give credit to that narrative. This narrative seems to be very popular even among some Western leftist publications and analysts. However, one needs a more nuanced ...

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