Saturday, November 15, 2008

Film Controversy in Turkey

Kemal Atatürk: a drunkard and bon vivant? To mark the 70th anniversary of the death of the founder of modern Turkey, a film reveals some of the more profane traits of the national hero -- enraging devout Kemalists and sparking suspicion of an conspiracy plot from abroad.

The film "Mustafa" depicts the inner life of a lonely chain smoker and a national hero -- and it has unleashed a furore in Turkey. Every day the protagonist smokes three packs of cigarettes, drinks one bottle of Raki and endless cups of Turkish coffee. He is an utter melancholic but he wins a war, creates a republic and revolutionizes a society.

Well-known filmmaker Can Dündar is breaking new ground and taboos by showing the dark side of the nation's father figure, even though it is laced with admiration -- and all this on the 70th anniversary of Atatürk's death.

But for devout Kemalists, the film is a declaration of war. Voices like Deniz Baykal, who heads the opposition party CHP or Israfil Kumbasar, a columnist at the ultranationalistist daily Yeni Cag, are calling for a boycott.

A particularly strong line has been taken by the diehard Atatürk supporters at the powerful Kemalist Thought Association, which sees the film as a front for a foreign conspiracy which aims to weaken the Turkish nation. "The collaborators of imperialism, the supporters of the Sharia and those pretending to be Republicans have been trying to demean Atatürk and destroy his revolution for years.

On Monday, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül showed that the seven-decade anniversary can also be celebrated in another way -- one perhaps more to the liking of the Kemalist Thought Association. At a ceremony at the Turkish embassy in Brussels, he gave a lecture on the difficult formation of the Turkish State and the expulsion of Greeks and Armenians, a fact which Gönül described as a "very important step." At the end of the day, he said, modern Turkey would not be as we know it, "if Greeks still lived on the Aegean and Armenians still lived in different parts of Turkey today."

Turkish politics professor Baskin Oran was well aware how strong Gönül's words sound beyond Turkish borders. "Because the Armenians and Greeks from Anatolia were sent away, industrialization was been delayed by at least 50 years," he said.
His colleague Dogu Ergil went a step further: "If the population of the Ottoman Empire had come to terms with its multiculturalism and many ethnicities, we would have long been part of the European Union. To govern such pluralism, a pluralistic democracy would have emerged."

And there is morrreee

Prosecution, prosecution, prosecution....

I don't know any European country, with the exception of the totalitarian regime of Belarus, which prosecute:
students expressing their opinion;
a news channel which shows the testimonies of people who are being tortured;
a news channel and a newspaper for publishing a report about the Hrant Dink murder;
while at the same time it took the current government 1 1/2 years to finalize a report about the Dink murder while the newspaper of Dink still receives racist threats.

And director Can Dündar, director of the documentary 'Mustafa' is now facing a criminal complaint, accusing him of insulting the founder of Turkish republic.

Day opening - November 15

The Autumn Season Presses On, Colorado, USA.
The next few days I will post autumn pictures from several states in the USA.