Showing posts with label Turkey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Turkey. Show all posts

March 17, 2017

Croatia, Romania Closer to NATO Alliance Invite and the Nukes?


Croatia and Romania share a similar vision on most European issues, including enlargement and the eastern partnership, according to the countries’ foreign ministers, who met in Bucharest yesterday (14 March). EURACTIV Romania reports.

Croatian minister Davor Ivo Stier and his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Meleșcanu, spoke about further EU enlargement, the future of the bloc and the situation in Ukraine in a meeting in the Romanian capital on Tuesday.

The two foreign affairs chiefs also discussed bilateral cooperation within the framework of the European Union and NATO, as well as their forthcoming stints at the helm of the EU’s rotating presidency.

Romania and Croatia will both hold the presidency for the first time in 2019 and 2020, respectively, as part of the same “trio”, sandwiching Finland, which will hold the presidency for the first time since 2006.

Croatia inches closer to Schengen membership

The European Commission on Wednesday (18 January) proposed the gradual integration of Croatia into the Schengen Information System (SIS), bringing the newest EU member state slightly closer to full membership of the EU borderless area.

Meleșcanu said there is a common interest in “anchoring the region irrevocably and irreversibly on the European path”.

He added that “there is huge potential for further cooperation. Romania and Croatia have similar views on most European issues, especially under the current conditions, as well as the future of the European project itself”.

Moldova and the Ukraine crisis were also on the agenda and Romania’s foreign minister, in agreement with his Croatian colleague, insisted that “the importance and need is for the full implementation of the Minsk agreement”.

Both ministers said they share “views about the eastern partnership and how to bring these countries (closer) to” Europe.

Moldova balks at idea of closer NATO ties

Pro-Russian President of Moldova Igor Dodon yesterday (7 February) warned NATO that the closer ties it seeks with his strategically placed country could undermine its neutrality and threaten its security.

Stier revealed that his visit is the first of a number of trips that will seek to strengthen bilateral ties and he said that the country’s president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, “will visit”.

He added that the two countries’ period holding the rotating presidency will be “challenging” and that “we must support the EU’s enlargement policy”.

Stier also spoke about a number of bilateral agreements including a cooperation agreement and a memorandum of understanding on NATO defence. He also said that there are plans to work together in the Danube port of Constanta.

Nukes Out of Turkey to Romania (last summer of 2016)

 Two independent sources told that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, against the background of worsening relations between Washington and Ankara.
According to one of the sources, the transfer has been very challenging in technical and political terms.
“It’s not easy to move 20+ nukes,” said the source, on conditions of anonymity.
According to a recent report by the Simson Center, since the Cold War, some 50 US tactical nuclear weapons have been stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, approximately 100 kilometres from the Syrian border.
Most Americans don’t know this fact but many will be surprised when and if they find out. Turkey has been a bad partner in both NATO with the US and EU with its European partners. This has been traditionally and historically been “Turkey”which has been in a backwards spiral on Human Rights particularly in the  LGBT community. EU rules stipulates not only a good human rights record but same sex unions or marriage. On the NATO front again Turkey has been an impediment to NATO needs dealing with the far east and Russia. Many times flights on US or NATO missions had to be rearranged to not enter their airspace because they would not clear them. Same has been on the ground on the fight against ISIS in Syria. On this front they have been Johnny come lately and only because they and no choice being inundated with Syrian refugees and attacks by ISIS on their Eastern front.

It was to be an expected change of NATO nuke policy for some time. Turkey was the partner no body wanted because it could not be counted on but at the time there was no body else that could take its place. Turkey has always acted for Turkey and that is great unless you enter into alliances in which an attack on one is an attack for all. They signed the document but it looked like they looked the other way on those tricky parts of helping each other out in times of difficulty.

The missiles have been there since the Kennedy administration and it always been a sour point with Russia. It was the break of the Soviet Union that has given the West choices though it has antagonized Moscow from one time having these countries serve as satellites of the Soviets to now being surrounded with nations that have missiles pointed at them to stop a Croatian-Georgia like invasion by the Russians with a promised of NATO to come to their help.

Now you can see why Turkey and Russia wanted to have eyes, ears and moving lips in no other place but the Oval office of the White House. What they misjudged  with Flynn who was getting money from both the Russians and the Turks,  its something the old Soviets were good at and that is secrecy. They went about in an open way for this stuff but Im sure there are other hungry palms that wont think twice to helping out someone who at the moment we are not at war with. Usually the oily field of candidates can be found in the Love America first fellows among others.

Adam Gonzalez
adamfoxie blog

December 19, 2016

Russian Ambassador to Turkey Killed (Update}

 The Russian ambassador to Ankara was shot in an attack at an art gallery in the Turkish capital on Monday and the Russian RIA news agency said he had died of his wounds.

The Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been "neutralized" soon after the attack, which appeared to mark one of the most serious spillovers of the Syria conflict in Turkey. Relations between Moscow and Ankara have long been fraught over the conflict, the two supporting opposing sides.

Ambassador Andrei Karlov made a speech at the opening of a photographic exhibition. Hurriyet newspaper said Turkish special forces had surrounded the building. NTV said three other people were wounded.

August 23, 2016

Boy Part of ISIS Wave of Attacks in Turkey is Disrobed of Explosives in Kirkup

~You might find video graphic~
 Guards carefully remove vest full of explosives from boy’s chest

The boy was part of a wave of Islamic State attacks on the city of Kirkuk. Kurdish officials apprehended him in a Barcelona Lionel Messi jersey, and said he burst into tears when initially questioned by a security officer.

The video shows Kurdish police carefully holding the boys arms apart as they carefully remove the explosive belt full of shrapnel from underneath his shirt.

Hours before the boy’s arrest, an ISIS suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Shiite Mosque, wounding three. At the same time, one of the boy’s accomplices blew himself up near a checkpoint, but did not hurt any one else. “There is a dangerous campaign tonight against Kirkuk,” a Kurdish security official told Rudaw news after the arrest.

The boy told Kurdish intelligence officials he was kidnapped by ISIS fighters in Mosul, and that the terrorists had forcibly strapped the bomb to him. Intelligence officials indicated the boy’s story may not have been a ploy to avoid punishment by security forces.

The boy’s arrest came just 24 hours after another ISIS child soldier between the ages of 12 and 14 blew up a bomb at a Kurdish wedding party in Turkey Saturday, killing 50 people and wounding nearly 70. Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan indicated the boy may have been wearing a remotely-controlled suicide belt.

The suicide bombing wave in Kirkuk is likely an attempt to weaken Kurdish resolve as preparations continue for an assault on the city of Mosul. ISIS seized Mosul in 2014, and it is the last major city inside Iraq that it fully controls. The U.S. plan to encircle Mosul, relies heavily on Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who have proven to be the most militarily capable force inside Iraq.

@TheLibRepublic on Twitter

August 22, 2016

Turkey Moving Away from Secularism and into Hate Crimes


A widespread crackdown on dissent is fuelling tension across Turkey, which has seen a rise in hate crimes against minorities – including a recently reported attack against a well-known transgender activist in Istanbul.

Turkey’s Daily Sabah reported that the badly burnt and mutilated body of Hande Kader, a 22-year-old LGBT activist and sex worker, was found on August 8 by the roadside in a residential area of Istanbul.

Although DNA evidence has yet to confirm the remains belong to Kader, the director of a gay rights group said her boyfriend and some friends had positively identified the body.

Emirhan Deniz Çelebi, the director of SPoD, a national LGBT organization based in Istanbul, joined other LGBT associations in condemning what they believe is deliberate silence by the country’s mainstream media in the wake of the activist’s death.

"We are not equal,” he said.

After Kader was arrested during an equal rights rally and faced down police water cannons during last year's Gay Pride parade, she became a symbolic figure in the LGBT community.

“We are being murdered and they do not hear our voices, because the rules in Turkey don't protect us”, said Deniz Çelebi.

Outraged supporters launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of Kader’s death and the plight of the LGBT community in Turkey. On Twitter they shared the hashtag #HandeKaderSesVer (MakeSomeNoiseForHandeKader), while on a petition was circulated to advocate for better protections for those in the community.

Last Thursday local activists took their cause to the capital, holding a press conference outside the parliament to highlight the daily risks confronting LGBT members.

Kader’s murder comes less than two weeks after the beheading of a gay Syrian refugee whose body was found not far from where Kader was discovered.

Muhammed Wisam Sankari, who had fled war-torn Syria, was found decapitated after being raped and assaulted. He could only be identified by the clothes he was wearing.

Minorities targeted

After last month’s failed coup in which the government instituted a state of emergency, the rights of minorities including gays, women and LGBT members have been whittled away.

While the Turkish capital has been a safe haven for many fleeing persecution and war in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, hate crimes against LGBT people have increased.

“Since the coup-attempt, a number of my transgender friends have called me and talked about how they were discriminated against because of their ID Cards and appearance,” Deniz Çelebi said.

Turkish lawyer and LGBT rights advocate Levent Pişkin said Erdogan’s rampant purges have exacerbated the fears of minorities.

“Actually, LGBT people in Turkey have never had legal rights,” said Pişkin.

“But we knew there were judicial mechanisms to support us. Nowadays, most people feel more vulnerable.”

Shift away from secularism

Although homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey as it is in many other Muslim countries, homophobia remains widespread. Almost 80 percent of Turks believe homosexuality is “morally unacceptable” according to a 2013 study by the US think tank PEW Research Center.

Pişkin said Kader’s death is symptomatic of a country shifting away from secularism.

“An Islamic tendency has gradually been getting stronger,” said Pişkin.

“The government has preferred war over strengthening our democracy. Therefore, our democratic rights and one’s right to life hang by a thread.”

LGBT activists will stage a demonstration on Sunday in Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue to raise further awareness about Kader's death.

pic BBC

August 8, 2016

Gay Friends of Syrian Beheaded in Turkey fear Same Fate


Three roommates (flatmates) of a gay Syrian refugee beheaded in a homophobic attack in Turkey last week fear they face a similar fate, after receiving death threats in the days since his murder.

Wisam Sankari, a hospital cleaner, went missing on 25 July after going to meet another gay man in Istanbul. His body was found two days later in a nearby area of Istanbul, his head severed and his battered body only identifiable to his friends by his clothing.

A week on, three of his flatmates say they fear being murdered in the same fashion after receiving warnings that the man Sankari met on 25 July wants to kill them too.

“There have been people in the street and people on the phone, who said: ‘He will get you next,’” said one of Sankari’s friends, a chef who, like his flatmates, asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons. “There was also a voice message on Facebook.”

In an interview with the Guardian in Sankari’s former room, a cramped lodging he shared with five other people, his friends said he had been in fear during the last months of his life after Turkish officials, UN diplomats and charity workers had proved unable to protect him following a series of homophobic attacks.

A Greek appeals board said in June that it considers Turkey safe enough for gay Syrians to be deported to as part of the controversial EU-Turkey migration deal. But Sankari’s friends say his experiences show how dangerous the country is for gay refugees, and unstable for refugees in general.

They alleged that in the months before his death, Sankari had:

*Been kidnapped and raped in two separate homophobic attacks.
*Been mocked and ignored by police officers after he reported one of the incidents.
*Eventually initiated legal proceedings against his unknown kidnappers after a local NGO helped him find a lawyer.
*Recorded a video in which he expressed fears that he might soon be killed in a homophobic attack.
*Briefly moved to another Turkish city in an unsuccessful attempt to find a safer place to live.
*Been fired from a factory job because of his sexuality.

“Do you call this safe?” summarised a second of Sankari’s flatmates, as they listened to their friend’s favourite song and watched a video made in his honour. “We don’t have an organisation to protect us. We want everyone in Europe to understand our situation here for Syrians, especially gays. We’re suffering.”

This was the third brutal attack Sankari had experienced, the flatmate continued. “Five months ago, he was attacked and his head was cut,” he said. “He went to the police, but they didn’t help him. [Another time] he was put in a car and he had to throw himself from it [to survive].” Then at 12.20am on 25 July, he got a call from a Syrian who had recently arrived in Istanbul. “He went to see him, and he never came back. Two days later we heard he was dead.”

Sankari’s murder was one of at least 20 homophobic attacks on Syrian refugees in the past six months, according to an activist who is documenting such incidents. “Turkey is not a safe place, it’s not a gay-friendly place,” said Hossam, a Syrian who organises a weekly support session for gay refugees in Istanbul, and who asked to be identified only by his first name. “And with the political situation in the country, it’s not getting better.”

More generally, Sankari’s friends said many of his other experiences showed how vulnerable life is for refugees of any sexuality in Turkey.

Despite recent legislative changes, the vast majority of the 2.7 million Syrians in Turkey have no realistic chance of accessing the legal labour market, forcing them to work illegally in exploitative conditions that contravene the UN refugee convention.

Sankari was one such case. His latest employers paid him about half the Turkish minimum wage (600 Turkish lira, or £150) for a hospital cleaning job that saw him work seven days a week. If he complained, he risked being fired; during previous employment as a waiter at a cafe, he was sacked for asking for time off to recover from illness.

“We’re working as animals,” said one of Sankari’s friends, a literature graduate who was a teacher in Syria but now works as a waiter in Turkey. “No one is working at what they studied for. We work here 12-13 hours a day. We don’t have a weekend. The Turks want us to work and work and work – without money or rights.”

Sankari’s battles with Turkish bureaucracy also highlight the basic logistical challenges Syrians face on a daily basis in Turkey. Sankari struggled to access support from aid groups and officials in Istanbul because he had first registered with the Turkish government in Hatay, a city near the country’s southern borders.

To apply for resettlement in the west, or to secure even basic support from government-affiliated NGOs, Sankari needed to return to Hatay. But he was scared to do so because of threats he had faced while briefly living there, said Hossam, who had met Sankari at his weekly drop-in session.
“He was desperately seeking help but he couldn’t reach anyone,” said Hossam.

It is a depressingly familiar situation, the activist added. “During my time with the group, I’ve witnessed a lot of serious threats, a lot of hate crimes, people who have experienced incidents that didn’t necessarily end their life, but [involved] beatings, rape and abuse,” said Hossam. “And those people couldn’t reach places where they felt safe and secure. They had to deal with this on their own.”

A senior government official said: “We are unable to independently verify the claim that the victim’s plea for assistance was ignored by law enforcement. Obviously, this barbaric attack doesn’t reflect the way Syrian refugees are treated in Turkey, which is the largest host of refugees in the world. We are investigating this incident and will take all necessary steps to bring perpetrators to justice.”

In a statement, the UN refugee agency said it was working to resettle LGBTI refugees currently living in Turkey, and expressed sadness about Sankari’s death. A spokesperson added: “We are very sorry and we would like to express our shock and sadness at this appalling crime. We are looking forward to seeing that investigation of the case by the officials concluded asap and perpetrators are brought to justice.

“Syrian refugees in Turkey are given temporary protection by the government of Turkey, which is primarily responsible for their protection in the country. UNHCR does not register or document Syrian refugees in Turkey.”

in Istanbul

August 5, 2016

Gay Syrian Refugee Raped and Beheaded in Anti GayTurkey

Muhammad Wisam SankariImage copyright

Image captionMr Sankari's body was horribly mutilated, friends told a gay rights group

The headless, mutilated body of a gay Syrian man has been identified by gay housemates in Istanbul who say he had been gang-raped previously.

The friends of Muhammad Wisam Sankari told a Turkish gay rights group,, that they had been threatened by violent male gangs.
“I am so scared," one of them said.

Mr Sankari, a refugee, arrived in Istanbul a year ago. His body was found in Yenikapi, a central district, on 25 July. No arrests have been made. reported that Mr Sankari had been trying to get to another country as a refugee because his life was in danger.

One of his housemates, called Rayan, said a male group had kidnapped Mr Sankari about five months ago, beaten him up and raped him.
"We complained to the police headquarters but nothing happened," he said.
Turkish police breaking up LGBT rally, 26 Jun 16Image copyrightAFP
Image caption

Turkish police broke up an LGBT rally in Istanbul in June
Another of Mr Sankari’s friends, Diya, said the United Nations was also failing to protect the gay community in Turkey.

"I get threats over the phone... It does not matter if you are Syrian or Turkish, if you are gay you are everyone's target. They want sex from you and when you don't they just tag along... Who is next?" Diya said.

In June, Turkish police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse gay activists who tried to hold an LGBT rally in Istanbul, despite a ban on the Gay Pride parade.
Homosexuality is illegal in many countries in the Middle East and although it is not against the law in Turkey, analysts say homophobia remains widespread.

Hate crimes
Cagil Kasapoglu of the BBC Turkish Service says hate crimes against LGBT individuals in Turkey mostly go unreported.
According to kaosgl, there has been a rise in human rights violations based on sexual orientation in recent years.
Under the heading “hate crimes" the organization recorded five murders, 32 attacks and three suicides in Turkey last year.

It believes the number of such murders over the past six years is more than 50.
Syrian gay refugees in Turkey suffer even more, as their legal status is precarious - they are usually undocumented and most are reluctant to report assaults to police, our reporter says.

The Turkish authorities cited "safeguarding security and public order" as the reason for banning Gay Pride in Istanbul this year. The parade was also banned last year.

Assaults on LGBT people in Turkey have mostly been blamed on ultra-conservative Muslims and an ultra-nationalist youth group, the Alperen Hearths.
The harassment is also related to a rise in homophobic rhetoric in conservative media and social media, Cagil Kasapoglu says.

Such rhetoric was used by Turkish ultra-conservative media when reporting the murder of 49 people in June by a gunman in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, she says.
Gunman Omar Mateen, a US citizen, appeared to have an interest in Islamist extremism.


July 19, 2016

Coupe in Turkey plus How it Looks for Democracy and LGBT Rights


Turkey purged its police on Monday after rounding up thousands of soldiers in the wake of a failed military coup, and said it could reconsider its friendship with the US unless Washington hands over a cleric Ankara blames for the putsch.

Nearly 20,000 members of the police, civil service, judiciary and army have been detained or suspended since Friday night’s coup, in which more than 200 people were killed when a faction of the armed forces tried to seize power.

The broad crackdown and calls to reinstate the death penalty for plotters drew concern from Western allies, who said Ankara must uphold the rule of law in the country.
Turkey is a Nato member and is also Washington’s most powerful Muslim ally.

Some voiced concern Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was using the opportunity to consolidate his power and further a process of stifling dissent that has already caused tensions with Europe.

Turkey’s foreign minister said criticism of the government’s response amounted to backing for the bid to overthrow it.
A senior security official told Reuters that 8,000 police officers, including in the capital Ankara and the biggest city Istanbul, had been removed from their posts on suspicion of links to Friday’s abortive coup.

About 1,500 finance ministry officials had been suspended, a ministry official said, and CNN Turk said 30 governors and more than 50 high-ranking civil servants had been dismissed.
Annual leave was suspended for more than three million civil servants, while close to 3,000 judges and prosecutors have been suspended.
Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim said 7,543 people had so far been detained, including 6,038 soldiers.

Some were shown in photographs stripped to their underwear and handcuffed on the floors of police buses and a sports hall.
A court remanded 26 generals and admirals in custody on Monday, Turkish media said.
John Kerry says Turkey should ‘not go beyond the rule of law’

Turkey intensifies crackdown after failed coup attempt

Stephen Starr: Erdogan emerges stronger from failed insurrection
Officials in Ankara say former air force chief Akin Ozturk was a co-leader of the coup.

The state-run Anadolu agency said on Monday he had confessed, but private broadcaster Haberturk contradicted this, saying he had told prosecutors he tried to prevent the attempted putsch.

The Turkish government says it was masterminded by Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric based in the US who has a wide following in Turkey.
He denies any involvement. Ankara has demanded Washington hand Gulen over.

Washington says it is prepared to extradite him but only if Turkey provides evidence linking him to crime. Mr Yildirim rejected that demand.
“We would be disappointed if our [American] friends told us to present proof even though members of the assassin organization are trying to destroy an elected government under the directions of that person,” Mr Yildirim said.

“At this stage there could even be a questioning of our friendship,” Mr Yildirim added.
Mr Yildirim said 232 people were killed in Friday night’s violence: 208 of them were civilians, police and loyalist soldiers, and a further 24 were coup plotters.
Officials previously said the overall death toll was more than 290.

Death penalty

The news comes as German chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly told Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey cannot join the EU if it reinstates the death penalty in a telephone call on Monday.

Turkey abolished capital punishment in 2004, allowing it to open EU accession talks the following year, but the negotiations have made scant progress since then.
With pro-government protesters demanding that the military coup leaders be executed, Mr Erdogan said on Sunday there could be no delay in using capital punishment and the government would discuss it with opposition parties.

Dr Merkel reportedly told Mr Erdogan on the phone that the EU and Germany vehemently oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty and that such a step is “in no way compatible” with Ankara’s goal of EU membership.
“The chancellor also urged the president to abide by the principles of proportionality and rule of law in the Turkish state’s response [to the coup attempt],” a German spokeswoman said.
“The recent wave of arrests and dismissals in Turkey are a matter for grave concern.”

Dr Merkel’s comments were echoed by German minister for foreign affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who told reporters in Brussels that Germany expected Turkey to deal with those responsible for the attempted coup in line with the rule of law.
“Reintroduction of the death penalty would prevent successful negotiations to join the EU,” Mr Steinmeier said.
Dr Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert also told a news conference earlier on Monday that Germany and the EU categorically reject the death penalty.

“A country that has the death penalty can’t be a member of the European Union and the introduction of the death penalty in Turkey would therefore mean the end of accession negotiations,” Mr Seibert said.
Even before the coup attempt, many EU states were not eager to see such a large, mostly Muslim country as a member, and were concerned that Ankara’s record on basic freedoms had gone into reverse in recent years.


Turkey has witnessed a sharp decline in freedoms of expression and association in recent years, with opposition media outlets being taken over by the government and allegedly Gulenist-linked publications being shuttered. On Monday, the board of the Turkish Journalist Associations condemned raids on media establishments, restrictions to access and mob violence against journalists in the wake of the coup.

Turkish government officials have hailed the defeat of the coup as a victory for democracy at a time when human rights activists and international observers warn the country is fast slipping toward authoritarianism, pointing to the high number of arrests of academics, intellectual, journalists and legislators.

"It is important to understand that whilst the Erdogan government is democratically elected it is certainly not liberal," says Dr. Natalie Martin, an expert on Turkish politics at Nottingham Trent University in England. "It does not have a free news media, the rule of law is patchy and there is no freedom of protest or association unless you are an AKP protester." The AKP, or Justice and Development Party, is Erdogan's party.

In the months before the coup, even small protests by groups including Kurdish demonstrators and more recently the LGBT community have been countered by massive security deployments, water cannons and tear gas. With the government’s popularity boosted, government critics fear that the space for dissent will narrow further.

AP and Fox 

July 1, 2016

Turkey Most Stop Abusing the LGBT Community There

Image result for turkey male lovers


When he designated New York City’s Stonewall Inn—site of the 1969 police raid that sparked American’s modern LGBT rights movement—as a National Monument on June 24, President Obama declared that protecting LGBT rights is a core American value and should be regarded as such by the rest of the world.

“Stonewall,” said the President, “will be our first National Monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights.” This was an important symbolic act, but there have been numerous substantive ones by the Administration, designed to serve notice that LGBT rights constitute fundamental American ones.

In December 2011, for example, Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the heads of executive departments and agencies “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.” He outlined a series of measures that included requiring the State Department to “lead the Federal Government’s swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBT persons abroad.”

Last week brought fresh evidence that Turkey, America’s off-again-on-again ally and a democracy-at-least-in-its-own-government’s-mind, has not received our message or, if received, does not much care. Turkish police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at gay rights activists who assembled to read a statement in support of a Trans Pride event, and then, not content to simply assault the activists for expressing their views, detained many of them.

Turkish authorities then blocked the LGBT community from holding a Gay Pride parade in Istanbul. This has become the norm for Turkey, a government that badly wants to be viewed as a modern European state: in 2015 Turkish riot police used water cannons and pellets to shut down the parade.

What Obama once described as his “special friendship” with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has grown frigid, as the Administration’s willingness to overlook the Turkish government’s penchant for repression has morphed into a new disposition to see that government for what is it: a witches’ brew of human rights violations and catering to a rabid Islamist street. The government’s attacks on the LGBT community and its shutdowns of that community’s celebrations reflected both.

A Turkish Islamist group called the Anatolia Muslim Youth posted on Facebook earlier this month a denunciation of the LGBT pride parade as a “perversion.”  “We don’t want them to walk naked on the sacred soil of our country in the blessed month of Ramadan,” the group proclaimed.  One nationalist organization threatened: “Degenerates will not be allowed to carry out their fantasies on this land.”

“The [LGBT] community in Turkey is scared,” says Human Rights Campaign’s Jordan Long. “And it doesn’t help when the police are the ones perpetrating violence.”

Levent Piskin, an Istanbul-based lawyer and gay activist, is in accord. “The government should be there to protect us from threats, but instead they have made targets out of us,” he told The Washington Post. “Turkey is not a safe place for the LGBT community.”

Turkish writer Elif Shafak is even more blunt. “There is no doubt that Turkey is a homophobic country,” she wrote recently in The Guardian. The facts bear her out.  The Rainbow Index ranking of European countries on the basis of their respect for the rights of LGBT individuals ranked Turkey 46th out of 49. Only Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan ranked lower.

The U.S. State Department issued a human rights report on Turkey just weeks ago, detailing the ways the Turkish government—while not making homosexuality illegal—attacsks the LGBT community. According to the State Department, judges routinely apply a law providing for reductions of punishment for crimes “under the influence of rage or strong, sudden passion caused by a wrongful act” to reduce the sentences of those who have murdered LGBT individuals, and the reductions in sentences are upheld on the basis of the “immoral nature” of the victims.

The State Department cited harassment of the LGBT community by police and other government authorities. “LGBT individuals continue to experience discrimination, intimidation and violent crimes,” the State Department says, adding that Turkish politicians frequently engage in hate speech against LGBT communities.

Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, has spearheaded the effort to encourage American officials to confront the Turkish government.  “We would like pressure on the Turkish authorities to protect the LGBT community,” says HRC’s Long. “We urge U.S. officials to raise these issues with their counterparts whenever they meet with them.”  Last year, some 60 members of Congress signed a bipartisan letter calling on the Turkish government “to respect the rights of the LGBT groups—and all Turkish citizens—to assemble peacefully.”

But the U.S. government can do an awful lot better than that. It can publicly declare the harassment of the LGBT community—and the failure to vigorously protect LGBT individuals—as an abrogation of fundamental human rights that is unacceptable, calling out violators by name. It will have plenty of violators to choose from: apart from Israel, virtually every country in the Middle East ranges from very bad to appalling when it comes to safeguarding LGBT rights. Islamic bloc nations in particular will strenuously object, protesting that such declarations are offensive to their domestic sensibilities. Our response ought to be: That’s too damn bad.

After the massacre of dozens of people at an Orlando night club, the least we can do is stop pulling punches. Confronting the Turkish government over its assault on the rights of the LGBT community seems as good a place to start as any.

By Jeff Robbins who served as Chief Counsel to the Democratic Senators on the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Twice appointed as a United States Delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission under President Clinton, he is an attorney in Boston. Follow him on twitter: @jeffreysrobbins

June 21, 2016

Turkish Riot Police use Violence to Disperse LGBT Rights Marchers

 Amidst rubber bullets, water cannon and gas, this gay man/woman raises the colors 

Turkish police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to break up a rally by the LGBT community in Istanbul on Sunday, in the second crackdown in as many days on protests by secular Turks.
Several hundred riot police surrounded the main Taksim Square -- where demonstrations have been banned since major anti-government protests in 2013 — to prevent the "Trans Pride" event taking place during Ramadan.
It was the latest crackdown by police in Turkey against an event during the Muslim holy month.
As the police swooped in on the rally of about 150 people, the crowd fled into nearby streets.
Turkish media reported that at least two people were detained.
The "Trans Pride" rally was to kick off LGBT week in Turkey.
The demonstrators unfurled a rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBT community, and then tried to read a statement but were prevented from doing so by the police.    
 Taksim Gezi Park, Turkey

Istanbul authorities said on Friday they had banned the annual gay pride parade set for June 26 to “safeguard security and public order" after a string of bombings around Turkey over the past year, some of them blamed on the Islamic State group, others claimed by Kurdish militants.

"We want to march for humanity but the police ban everything," an activist who gave her name as Ebru told AFP.
Earlier Sunday, 11 anti-gay protesters, apparently Islamists, demonstrating near Taksim Square were arrested, according to the Dogan news agency.
"We are Ottomans," shouted one, according to video of the incident. "We don't want any of those people here."
 A group of ultra-nationalists asked the authorities last week to cancel the gay pride parade, saying it would make sure it did not take place if police did not heed the call.
The annual Istanbul parade has taken place for the last 12 years without incident with thousands of people taking part in the most important LGBT gathering in a Muslim country in the region.
Sunday's crackdown on the Trans Pride event came a day after police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon to disperse a protest over an Islamist attack on fans of British rock group Radiohead.
On Friday night, a group of about 20 men beat up customers and staff at the Velvet IndieGround music store in Istanbul for drinking alcohol during an event to promote Radiohead's latest album.
Three of the attackers, who were angered by the fact that alcohol was being served during Ramadan, were arrested but released Sunday after questioning.
On Saturday, about 500 protesters took to the streets of the trendy Cihangir district to condemn the store attack, chanting "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism!" and denouncing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a "thief" and a "killer".
Turkish authorities have regularly cracked down on anti-government demonstrations since mass protests swept the country in 2013, using tear gas and water cannon against even small gatherings.
Critics accuse Erdogan of growing authoritarianism and of pushing an increasingly conservative agenda in a country where devout Muslims and secularists have long peacefully co-existed.
On Saturday, Turkey's strongman leader vowed to press ahead with the contested redevelopment of Istanbul's Gezi park, next to Taksim Square, which triggered the 2013 revolt by mainly liberal Turks.
A court initially suspended the construction project in the aftermath of the unrest, in which eight people were killed, but the court later reversed its decision.

Osman Orsal/Reuters

May 27, 2016

Report Released Turkey’s Human Rights Violations on the LGBT Community

DHA photo
DHA photo
The Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association (Kaos GL) has published an annual report monitoring human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, calling on the Turkish state to adopt anti-discriminatory measures to prevent hate crimes against LGBT individuals that remain largely unreported by media and security authorities. 

Noting that the findings of the report were based on crimes that were only reported in local media, Kaos GL announced that five hate murders, 32 hate attacks, two cyber-attacks and three suicide cases were reflected in the press in 2015.

Fifteen of the hate attacks were committed by more than one person while there was alleged police involvement in two of the attacks. Twelve were committed with sharp objects, two involved the use of firearms and one featured arson.

The report criticized discriminatory rhetoric and practices adopted by politicians and state institutions, calling on the Turkish Republic to implement the necessary regulations to fulfill its international responsibilities on human rights.

Accordingly, four of the nine cases of hate speech that were reported in the media were uttered by political figures, namely, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, then-Deputy PM Yalçın Akdoğan and Interior Minister Efkan Ala.

In their remarks, the aforementioned politicians targeted an LGBT deputy candidate from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Barış Sulu, and slammed the same party’s political promises on LGBT rights and the legalization of gay marriages.

The report also slammed a crackdown by Istanbul police on the LGBT Pride Parade in June 2015 with tear gas and water cannon, saying it transformed the hatred against LGBTs into a “call for massacre,” as politicians also added fuel to the flames.

The violent crackdown was preceded by an Islamist group called the “Young Islamic Defense” which pinned posters to walls and lamp posts in Ankara, threatening gays with death.

“Should those who engage in ugly behavior and adhere to the practice of the people of Lot be killed?” read posters that appeared in the Turkish capital overnight, referring to Lot, who features in the Old Testament and the Quran. Many Muslims believe that the decline of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah stemmed from the sexual preferences of their inhabitants.

Kaos GL concluded the report by listing its legal demands, including the implementation of constitutional guarantees against hate crimes, the launch of an efficient campaign against the use of hate speech by politicians, the clarification of “infamous crimes” to strictly inhibit its anti-LGBT interpretation and an end to the Turkish Armed Forces’ categorization of prospective LGBT soldiers as people with a “gender identity disorder.”

The association also urged the introduction of training schemes prepared in collaboration with civil society organizations to ensure that members of the security forces do not resort to homophobic, transphobic and discriminatory practices.

November 25, 2015

ISIS is as Crazy as the Cat that ate the Bird and Putin Finds Out No Meant No

 If you switch that billion dollar fighter with any small bomber in WWII there would be no difference below

In killing 130 civilians in Paris—the worst such attack in France since World War II—ISIS has forced us to contend, once again, with the question of the “rationality” of self-professed ideologues. Since it wrested the world’s attention with its capture of Iraq’s second-largest city in June 2014, the extremist group has prioritized state-building over fighting far enemies abroad. This is what distinguished ISIS: It wasn’t just, or even primarily, a terrorist organization. It had an unusually pronounced interest in governance. As Yale University’s Andrew March and Mara Revkin lay out in considerable detail, the group focused its energy on developing fairly elaborate institutional structures in the territory it controlled within Iraq and Syria. ISIS wasn’t simply making things up as it went along. It may have been mad, but there was a method to the madness.

Shadi Hamid is a fellow at the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center, and the author of Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East. Hamid's research focuses on democratization and the role of Islamist movements ... Full Bio
But why, then, attack France—one of the more militarily aggressive Western powers—and potentially provoke a massive retaliatory response that would threaten the very “caliphate” it had spent so much time building? Care is needed in drawing conclusions from this apparent shift in targeting. ISIS has always had international ambitions; it was more a question of when, not if. Part of the challenge is in divining why exactly ISIS chose to stage these attacks at this particular time. And this raises a difficult set of questions: To what extent, in the wake of the Paris attacks, should ISIS be thought of as rational, and how, in turn, should that inform efforts to understand the group and develop a strategy to counter it?

The attack on France may very well prove to be ISIS’s first obvious, huge mistake, at least from a caliphate-building perspective. That said, while many outside observers might think ISIS made a major miscalculation, the group—or whatever part of it directed the attack—probably doesn’t agree. Otherwise, why would they have done it?

* * *

For a remarkably brutal, absolutist, and apocalyptic organization, ISIS had pursued a strategy that was deliberate, insistent, and ultimately successful. It was able to carry out, as Charles Lister writes, “a very methodical and multi-staged strategy of recovery, growth, expansion, and consolidation.” Yet, it was also fond of its apocalyptic fantasies, which featured prominently in the group’s propaganda and even seemed to affect specific battlefield decisions. ISIS’s state-building and messianism coexisted in uneasy tension. There was little to suggest this was sustainable in the long run (although, as ever, that raises the question of how long the long run is). As Will McCants, author of The ISIS Apocalypse, put it to me recently: “The caliphate may require caution but the apocalypse requires abandon.” Can an individual—or, for that matter, an entire organization—be, at once, both cautious and in the throes of reckless abandon?

The question of why ISIS would want to goad the West is a challenging one for precisely this reason. We don’t know exactly how rational ISIS is, particularly in the absence of real insight into the group’s internal deliberations. And, in any case, “rationality” may take on a different meaning for those who believe not just in the imminence of the end times (which is fairly common in the Middle East), but also that the day of reckoning can be hastened.

These caveats notwithstanding, let’s try to imagine ourselves in the position of the terrorists. Oddly enough—in what was perhaps a first for a U.S. president—this is exactly what Barack Obama did just a month after the beheading of the American journalist James Foley.

Can an individual—or, for that matter, an entire organization—be, at once, both cautious and in the throes of reckless abandon? 

Obama hypothesized that if he were “an advisor to ISIS,” he would have released rather than killed hostages like Foley, with notes pinned to their chests no less, saying “stay out of here.” It is a self-evident banality that very few American politicians take seriously: Understand your enemy in order to defeat him. Obama should be lauded for being both able and willing to imagine himself in diverse political contexts, but the statement was remarkably naive, suggesting a readiness to apply a straightforward “rational actor” lens that doesn’t necessarily apply in the fog of jihadist war. This role as analyst in chief is one the president has warmed to. He regularly insists, for example, that world leaders are acting against their own rational self-interests, whether it be Vladimir Putin, with his “reckless” interventions in Ukraine and Syria, or the Israelis, for failing to support an Iranian nuclear deal that Obama thinks will make them safer. As for the Iranians, once the nuclear deal was struck, the hope, sometimes explicit but always somewhere underneath the surface, was that Iran would “moderate” and be induced to become a constructive partner in the resolution of regional conflict. Being “constructive” was in their interest, after all, just as it was in America’s, and just as it was in Russia’s.

Any assessment of “instrumental rationality”—the idea that individuals carefully weigh costs and benefits in seeking maximum political utility—is about means rather than ends. In other words, once we know what the actors’ goals are, we can then work backwards and see to what extent they’re “rationally” acting in the service of those goals. So even if we assume ISIS is reasonably rational, it still leaves open the question of what they’re trying to achieve in the first place. In his ISIS-advisor mode of 2014, Obama assumed that ISIS wanted America out; it’s also possible that the group wanted America in. This was al-Qaeda’s wager after the September 11 attacks: that any large-scale Western invasion of Arab lands would redound to its benefit. The United States, so the logic went, would be drawn into a war it couldn’t hope to win—one that would drain U.S. resources, rally Muslims against foreign intruders, and puncture the perception of American military superiority; ultimately, the United States—with its supposedly low tolerance for casualties—would grow exhausted and withdraw. Which raises an interesting counterfactual: If Americans had known this about al-Qaeda’s designs—much of which only became clearer well after 9/11—would that have altered the thinking of at least some policymakers in the march to war in Iraq in 2003?

In some tension with this “bog them down” theory of jihadist warfare is the notion of “paying the price,” which features prominently in jihadist political theory, including in Abu Bakr Naji’s influential Bush-era treatise The Management of Savagery. The idea here is to punish countries to deter them from future military action. Perhaps this is what ISIS hoped to do in Paris. Such an approach, however, would suggest a major flaw in the group’s ability to anticipate how targets will respond to their provocations. After all, a mass-casualty attack on France would presumably make the French more, not less, likely to support greater military action against ISIS. At the same time, there is at least one prominent recent case—the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid—where “punishment,” just three days before a hotly contested election, may have contributed to the victory of socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, who soon pulled Spain’s forces from Iraq, making good on a pre-election promise.

What all this resembles is a kind of two-player game where each side acts either in response to or in anticipation of the other’s moves—the catch being that neither side has full information about or insight into the decision-making process or even the operating assumptions of its adversary. It’s a situation ripe for miscalculation. While many jihadist theoreticians are “astute observers” of U.S. counterterrorism policy, this doesn’t necessarily lead to the correct conclusions. After all, even Americans who obsessively follow the twists and turns of U.S. policy have repeatedly either overestimated or underestimated Obama’s willingness to intervene in various Middle Eastern theaters.

Another possibility is that Western military responses to ISIS are “inelastic,” meaning that regardless of what ISIS does or doesn’t do, U.S.-led international efforts will not change significantly, considering the profound reluctance, at least under the Obama administration, to do much more than the United States is already doing. The scholar of jihadist movements Cole Bunzel has colorfully referred to this as ISIS’s “Donald Trump-like immunity to the consequences of the awful things it does.”

If this debate has a dreamlike quality to it, that’s because we’ve had it before. After ISIS beheaded Foley and another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, in August and September 2014, many of us wondered why the group would risk provoking a superpower, which up until then had done little to prioritize the fight against ISIS. Months later, ISIS burned a Jordanian pilot to death, prompting the Jordanian government to vow an “earth-shaking” response and “blood vengeance.” “The gloves have come off,” said King Abdullah. Yet, after an initial surge of military force, including air strikes, Jordan receded to its previous levels of engagement in the struggle with ISIS. General John Allen, Obama’s special envoy for the counter-ISIS coalition, declared that the murder of the pilot would “be one of these moments that created a unity of purpose and a unity of effort among the nations [of the world].” It wasn’t. None of these incidents were.

Cole Bunzel has colorfully referred to ISIS’s “Donald Trump-like immunity to the consequences of the awful things it does.”

Presumably there is some “red line” that would trigger a massive retaliatory response on the part of the United States and its allies, but it may very well be the case that such a line doesn’t, for better or worse, exist. In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, it appears that the U.S. will simply double down on its current strategy with an intensification of air strikes and perhaps a marginal increase in special-operations forces and advisors in Syria and Iraq. As for ground forces, Obama ruled them out just three days after ISIS struck France. The president had rather quickly made up his mind. “We have the right strategy and we’re going to see it through,” he said. “There will be an intensification of the strategy we have put forward, but the strategy we have put forward is the strategy that will ultimately work.” This, to use the jihadists’ own terminology, indicates that ISIS may not pay that much of a price for its crimes.

* * *

In the months leading up to the Paris attacks, ISIS may have reached its peak as a proto-state, having already captured and held as much territory as it could ever hope to in its base of Syria and Iraq. In fact, ISIS was beginning to lose significant swathes of territory, including key border towns, and found itself encircled around the Sunni city of Ramadi in Iraq, its most important territorial acquisition of 2015. Recruitment of foreign fighters was slowing. As Mara Revkin writes, even governance—one of ISIS’s stronger suits (at least compared to the competition)—had increasingly become a liability. Various accounts paint a picture of mismanagement, declining morale, turf wars, and infighting within the ranks. Even if these claims are overstated, all was evidently not well in the caliphate. At best, ISIS could hope to regain some of its recently lost territory. At worst, they would suffer more battlefield losses, including in Ramadi. For a group whose slogan was “remaining and expanding,” these scenarios weren’t particularly promising.

Just as it was losing momentum in its Iraqi and Syrian strongholds in the second half of 2015, ISIS was making gains elsewhere, with an increasingly sophisticated insurgency in the Sinai, a pledge of allegiance from Africa’s most feared terrorist group, Boko Haram, and a growing presence in Afghanistan and Yemen. On October 31, it scored a major propaganda victory with the downing of a Russian airliner—one of the worst mass-casualty terrorist attacks of the past decade. ISIS was announcing its arrival as not just a proto-state with tax collection and a budget, but also as the world’s most effective terrorist organization, outflanking its rivals in al-Qaeda. ISIS’s shift in targeting served any number of other purposes: distracting from battlefield losses, boosting morale among its foot soldiers, and, of course, capturing the headlines. These, though hard to measure, are real and relevant “momentum” gains. Perhaps, then, from ISIS’s standpoint, the price of somewhat more intensified Western military intervention was a price worth paying.

If and when ISIS loses territory, it may decide to compensate. Its apocalyptic fantasies might become more lurid, not less. 

In this next phase of conflict, ISIS will likely lose more territory. The costs of endless war abroad will compromise the quality of governance at home, further undercutting local Sunni support. This may be grounds for optimism, but it’s not quite that simple. As the terrorism expert Clint Watts reminds us: “If an extremist group that has seized territory starts to lose it, it will be highly incentivized to turn to terrorist operations that allow for maximizing effects at a lower cost.” Advances for the international coalition may actually heighten the risk of more terrorism in the short run. The relationship between loss of territory and launching attacks abroad is non-linear—it may actually look more like a bell curve—and therefore hard to predict. It is fair to assume, though, that if and when ISIS loses significant territory, it may decide to compensate in an effort to underscore its relevance and create the illusion of momentum, if not the substance. Its apocalyptic fantasies might become more lurid, not less.

* * *

Why people—and organizations—do what they do is one of the most fascinating (and sometimes frightening) questions considered by political scientists. There are elaborate, formal models of rational-choice theory, in which human behavior is consistent, predictable, and straightforward, yet we know, from our own lives, that we constantly act against our own interests. Oftentimes, we know we’re acting against our own interests but plod along anyway, oblivious to the costs or perhaps taking pleasure in that feeling of weightlessness and abandon that often accompanies irrational decisions.

Considering all of the variables discussed here, the United States and its allies run the risk of gaming the scenarios and adjusting their response to fit the opposite of whatever they think ISIS wants them to do. There’s a hint of this in the rhetoric of Barack Obama and French officials—that ISIS wants the West to go all in because that would feed the group’s narrative, and that Western powers obviously can’t give ISIS what it wants. But ISIS isn’t al-Qaeda. Holding fixed territory inevitably changes the calculations of even hardened ideologues, particularly when territorial control is a core element of the ideology itself.

A claim to a caliphate—even one with diminished territory—is central to the group’s claims of Islamic-ness. The caliphate, ISIS leaders argue, is an obligation upon the Muslim community. It is the foundation upon which everything else is built, and, without it, Islamic law cannot be properly or legitimately implemented. If the U.S. deployed ground troops, it could clear ISIS from its strongholds of Raqqa and Mosul at least temporarily, as even Obama admits. This would be a severe blow to ISIS—undermining its entire raison d’être–in a way that it never was with al-Qaeda. This doesn’t mean that the United States should deploy ground troops, but it does mean that officials should be careful about presuming to know what ISIS wants.

Perhaps their apocalypticism emboldens them to take risks. Even if their gambit backfires, they still believe they have heaven to hope for.

Regardless of what the U.S. and its allies do, ISIS will prove an unusually challenging foe. And this is where religion and particularly apocalyptic religion matter. Take, for example, the ISIS leader Abu Muhammad al-Adnani’s September 2014 statement, in which he addresses the West directly, saying, “being killed … is a victory. This is where the secret lies. You fight a people who can never be defeated. They either gain victory or are killed. And O crusaders, you are losers in both outcomes.” These two goals—gaining victory (in a temporal sense) and getting killed in the process of seeking that victory—are mutually exclusive objectives. Yet it is altogether possible that Adnani and other ISIS true believers are more than comfortable with either outcome, if it comes to that. They would of course prefer to hold territory and entrench their caliphate. They may have judged (seemingly correctly) that the Paris attacks would not lead to a shift in U.S. strategy, and that they could withstand something short of a full ground offensive. Either way, though, brazenly targeting the West is a very risky endeavor. Perhaps their apocalypticism emboldens them to take such risks. Even if their gambit backfires, after all, they still believe they have heaven to hope for. They may welcome the prospect of dying while triggering a regional conflagration with the United States at its center.

Still, it is clear that ISIS has preferences, all other things being equal, even if we don’t quite know how those preferences play out in practice. It can be tempting to use ISIS’s apocalyptic fervor as a kind of analytical deus ex machina—something that I gravitated toward immediately after the attacks. This was the only way I could make sense of the decision to attack Paris. It seemed so, well, irrational. I assumed that such horrifying attacks in the heart of Europe would provoke a shift in U.S. strategy. I was wrong. They haven’t. Perhaps there wasn’t a red line. Perhaps the tolerance for Middle Eastern chaos, which is increasingly our chaos in the West, was greater than I thought. It dawned on me that maybe I had made a different kind of mistake: Instead of misjudging ISIS’s rationality, I had misjudged our own.

November 21, 2015

Turkish Military Stops Degrading Gay Test for New Recruits


Gay military recruits were previously forced into degrading tests to prove that they were gay.

In Turkey, homosexuals are are exempt from serving in the army, which is compulsory for men aged between 20 and 41. In order to prove their exemption, gay men were being forced into rectal examinations, and even made to photograph themselves having sex.
Turkey’s Armed Forces Physical Capabilities Regulation code classifies homosexuality as a ‘psychosexual disorder’, and states that those whose ‘sexual manners and behavior cause or are expected to cause problems of adaptation and functionality in a military environment’ should be excluded from service.
The Turkish Armed Forces have now relaxed this policy, meaning that these humiliating methods will no longer be enforced. Being exempt from the Turkish military does mean having your sexual orientation listed on your official record, which could then lead to further discrimination.
Any gay recruit who does want to serve in the military is able to, as long as they don’t disclose their sexual orientation, but if it is discovered or disclosed at a later time they risk expulsion. A man known only as Ahmet told Al-Monitor: “Being gay in Turkey is difficult, but for a gay of draft age, these difficulties become a hell.
“The medical examination [to determine fitness] for military service is perhaps the first challenge in your life that forces you to make a choice between your gay identity and social realities.”
Words Danielle Hutley

July 30, 2015

“Advance Oral Sex” in Muslim Turkey


I will publish this article as I read it on Al-monitor, The Pulse. The reason it made to this site is because the similarity in Muslim Turkey and its clergy with sex as much as the Christian clerics are in the United States. My biggest surprise is that his otherwise taboo subject as oral sex is done in an Advance way in a muslim country or at least by its clergy, The first question I will pulse if I could to these religious people would be: How do you know about advance oral sex and who invented it? It can’t be the deviil because you are talking about it in Turkish television. I will like to post pictures for my audience to understand better but it will kill the inclusive rating of this blog.

 Ali Riza Demircan, a popular theologian, appeared on a TV show aired by the official outlet Turkish Radio and Television (TRT). Pelin Cift, a young blonde woman, is the host of the program, on which Demircan appears as a frequent guest. While talking about sexuality, Demircan asserted, “Advanced oral sex between a married couple is haram [forbidden by Islam].” Cift broke into nervous laughter. 
Sex is an issue Cift and Demircan often discuss on the show, as he is the author of the well-known book “Sexual Life According to Islam.” For example, during an episode aired in June 2013, Demircan had informed the audience, “Making love is akin to worship.” Cift appeared to be flustered by that assertion as well.

Aired on state television, the words “advanced oral sex” immediately sent shock waves through Turkish social media. Users asked one another what exactly “advanced oral sex” means.

The most popular reaction, however, came from another Islamic personality, Robed (Cubbeli) Ahmet Hoca. A senior figure in the Ismail Aga religious order, Ahmet Hoca is known for his love of the limelight and controversial remarks. This time he announced, “When one [Demircan] says oral sex is forbidden by Islam, he is lying in the name of God. We cannot say it is forbidden, because we have no evidence to declare it forbidden.”

Ahmet Hoca’s blessing of oral sex generated another round of satirical exchanges on social media, and before one could declare the discussion over, Demircan came back with a personal retort against Ahmet Hoca, saying, “After the TRT program, I received several thank you notes and prayers. I am delighted to contribute to the understanding of what is forbidden. This is a crucial matter as it leads to conflict among couples and even to divorce. When we speak of what is forbidden, I understand those in denial, those who are engaged in extramarital affairs, gays, lesbians, erotic site owners and [sex toy] salespeople to be disturbed, but I don’t understand short-sighted Muslims. Are they disturbed by being reminded what is forbidden in Islam because they are committing these sins?”

Demircan’s comments and exchange between the Turkish televangelists made headlines in international as well as Turkish media. On social media, the reactions were typically humorous. The columnist Ozgur Mumcu tweeted, “Having acquired the knowledge that Ali Riza Demircan never falls victim to advanced oral sex, now we can sleep in peace.” Others chiming in included the following:

 Safer sex in Turkey
 Obeying all the rules of Islam, then the sad destiny of going to hell is due to advanced oral sex.
Any casualties from advanced oral sex so far?
Finally, reformation has begun in Islam. We moved from discussing whether chewing gum breaks the [Muslim] fast to advanced oral sex.
We are yearning for Old Turkey. In the old days, during Ramadan they would sell Ramadan pita at the bakeries, now they are talking about advanced oral sex.
There are sectarian wars, and now let’s hope the people will not be divided as those who like oral sex and those who don’t. The Middle East cannot overcome this!
A prominent columnist, Ahmet Hakan, titled his column on the subject “7 pieces of advice to Robed Hoja,” in which he urged Hoca to be as passionate about corruption, injustice and social values as he was about oral sex. Turkey’s most popular hypertext social dictionary,  Eksisozluk, had 52 pages of entries under the heading “Advanced Oral Sex” the week of July 11-19.

Indeed, not a day passes without the ulema (educated clergy) commenting on sexual matters. Previously, they had focused on the permissibility of polygamy and the side effects of masturbation. Another famous televangelist, Mucahid Cihad Han, went on the record in May declaring masturbation forbidden, saying, “If a man masturbates, in the afterlife his hand will get pregnant.”

Indeed, these sexual debates offer intriguing clues about the social, economic and political values in contemporary Turkish understanding of religion. As the marketplace of religious orders has grown, televangelists or sheikhs from these orders have become much more tolerated in the public domain.

Religious orders are still formally banned in Turkey, but it seems as long as religious men refrain from talking about politics, especially criticizing the government, they are free to talk about almost anything they want. In addition, retired theologians are also finding fame and making lucrative livings from the colorful daily talk shows. Popular shows provide them instant recognition. As one scholar told A-Monitor, “You can pick and choose your own imam, rather than following the one the government assigns to your neighborhood.”

Al-Monitor contacted several theologians and government imams from the Religious Affairs Directorate (RAD), but they were unwilling to comment. One scholar said, “You should not write about oral sex. It will hurt your reputation.” When asked how respected religious elders can discuss the issue so freely, the scholar replied, “They are all men, occasionally a few older women. Young women should not speak about these matters.”

Indeed, the scholar has a point. Speaking about sexual matters in Turkey is another field, like security and military politics, reserved for men. Although it may seem progressive to be talking about sexual matters in public, it is more an issue of men preaching to younger men and women about what is permissible, not an open debate. Hence, all women are pretty much expected to do is giggle nervously and look sheepish or shell-shocked. The host Cift is an exquisite example of the immature standard set for women in this regard.

This perhaps comes with the territory, as most, if not all, of the sexual advice provided is exclusively aimed at men. Women are rather passive players in the game, so they are not expected to have a voice.

On another crucial point, on can discern a rift, likely to become more visible in the near future, between leaders of religious orders and RAD-trained and -employed imams and muftis. On sexual matters, government-employed imams have been rather quiet, but theologians and sheikhs who are not formally employed by the government can appear on state television and hold forth on such graphic issues as advanced oral sex.

RAD is known to be rather strict in regard to its imam’s sermons. For example, one respected imam, Yasin Gundogdu, known for broadcasting his sermons and his bold style, was forbidden to go off script during Ramadan this year. Why are some imams allowed to preach freely, but the state controls every sentence of government-employed preachers?

One RAD imam from Ankara, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said, “The public wants to hear real-life issues. They are bored with government-sanctioned sermons, but we have strict rules. So more and more people are recruited into the religious orders, and our mosque congregations shrink. As long as religious orders do not challenge government policies too harshly, they can preach freely. For government employees, there are strict rules and regulations, and our sermons [are] therefore a bore.”

It seems there is a dual path in Turkish religious affairs. On the one hand, RAD is growing and expanding its powers, but on the other hand, religious orders are supported and encouraged to be more visible in the public domain as long as they refrain from politics. That said, after two weeks of sex talk, people are still asking, “Have you found out what advanced oral sex is?”

By Pinar Tremblay who is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse and is a visiting scholar of political science at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is a columnist for Turkish news outlet T24. Her articles have appeared in Time, New America, Hurriyet Daily News, Todays Zaman, Star and Salom. On Twitter: @pinartremblay

Featured Posts

Human Rights Campaign Testifies Against Judge Neil Gorsuch

LGBTQ groups have come out in strong opposition to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch as U.S. Supreme Court Justice, ar...