Turkey's reputation is at stake, not its honor

I found the links of the serie of articles I wrote as guest columnist for Turkish Daily news between 2007 and 2008. The next two weeks I will publish the old columns here since they are still actual for the Turkey of today. Today the second one, just after Dink was killed.
Turkey's reputation is at stake, not its honor

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Hans A.H.C. de Wit*

The international perception of Turkey is still unfavorable. And the Turkish media at large is collectively responsible for this.

The killing of Hrank Dink shows the fragility of Turkey's image. Certain internal and international nationalistic groups “hijacked” his death while other opportunists misused “his friendship” for their own purposes. The Turkish newspapers were full of condemnation, and the foreign press saw an opportunity to show the difficult lives of independent Turkish journalists and writers, exploring how some even have bodyguards and use police protection…

The common man on the street in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Mersin might curse me for saying that Dink's death has to do with the ugly face of state propaganda, bad education and systematic massive misinformation. So, the tragic death of this fine journalist deserves more than just to offer an opportunity for a fleeting discussion. The doves that were released during his funeral instead of sacrificing another living being can be symbolic: peace for him and relieve the Turkish soul in mourning. And no more sensational news please, just let him rest in peace.

Enough with fatalism:

But ... can you blame the nationalist? Isn't it human nature to take a reactive stance towards anything that sounds, smells and looks different than what we are accustomed to? Yes, but by rejecting “foreign influences” you not only close the borders of your country but you close your heart and soul as well. What can be more tragic than the black burned soul of a youngster…
Turkey, which has been using the propaganda tool for a long time now in place of professional public relations and lobbying, has to finally stand up for its own citizens. It has to stand up not only in dull ceremonies but in everyday life, to protect the ordinary peaceful citizens all over Turkey. Mankind must know by now that nationalists are always using symbols and tragic events to get their points across and chasing rainbows over their country as if the sun only rises and sets in their own nation. What they practice is like voodoo and creates people whose eyes are wide shut and whose perception is triggered by blindness and hate.

Unfortunately, the Turkish rhetoric of fatalism is popular these days. The word inshallah was often used by Turkish people on the street, after Dink's killing, ashamed to give a fair answer. But is inshallah the message to the outside world that Turkey wants to convey? This is a murdered person who didn't believe in fatalism but who showed a pro-active attitude in faith and reconciliation.

Continue reading here.


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