Archive for the 'alevi' Category

05
Sep
09

First Mesopotamian Social Forum coming up

plakat_en

From the 25th to the 30th of September, the first Mesopotamian social forum takes place in Amed/Diyabakir (Eastern Anatolia/ Turkish Kurdistan). Grass root activist from the Kurdish movement, Turkey, Europe and everybody who is interested is invited to meet, live and work together for a week. Discussions, workshops and cultural activities are planned. Topics of interest will be the Kurdish movement, the Middle East, women, ecology, youth, migration and economy. There are camping facilities on a park ground in the city. Accomodation in families and hotels can be provided.

More information for subscription and in general about the camp@ http://international-amed-camp.org/

17
Jul
09

Turkish ultra-nationalist fundamentalists protest against wine consumption at classical concert in Istanbul

Header: This Week’s Art Activities

Header: This Week’s Art Activities

Last week, on the the 11th of June, the world-reknowned pianist Idil Biret came to the Istanbul to perform a classical concert. The concert took place in the famous Topkapı Palace, an early palace of the Ottoman Empire that is generally flooded with tourists, who come to see Ottoman’s artifacts, such as crown jewels and important Islamic relics such as the Holy Mantle, the Holy Banner and a hair of the beard of Mohammed. The palace, especially its vast courtyards, has been the site for world-reknowned concerts for the last decades. However, during the concert of Idil Biret, a group of around fifty to a hundred protestors, led by an ultranationalist-islamist group called the Alperenler, caused aproar in front of the concert doors, calling out Allah-u Akbar (arabic: God is great) while tearing down and burning the concert posters. They further knelt on a Turkish flag to pray. Although, the show went on as planned, the performers had to escape out the back door. The Alperenler crowd, held in check by the police, made its way through local neighborhoods shouting Allahu Akbar. The day before the happening, the rightwinged extreme Islamist newspaper Vakit published an article entitled “Alcohol will flow like water in the sacred place” that abeted its reader to react on the fact that alcohol was to be served at the concert in proximity to the relics of the Ottoman relics.
Yet, there is a restaurant inside the Palace where alcohol is served to the guests every day, a fact that the mob as well as the newspaper Vakit, was not aware of or simply forgot about. Moreover, it is very likely that even in Ottoman times alcohol was served in the Harem, the very private and sacrosanct place of the palace. As often the case in Istanbul when politics meets religion the reaction of the public is restrained – and especially taken with a good portion of humour that often turns cynical. Some commentators of Jenny White who wrote about the incident on her Kamil Pasha blog stated for example the organizers’s wondering if there was a sacredmeter to measure safe distance from sacred relics. Moreover, the organizer had a somewhat plausible explanation for serving alcohol at the concert: classical music, he is reported to have said, is difficult to listen to, so they served wine to people to help them wash the music down.
Also the Turkey’s four main satirical magazines covered the demonstration against the ultra-nationalists:

Vakit, the Islamist newspaper that initiated the protest against the concert on the grounds that wine was being consumed near some Islamic relics in the Topkapi museum. The paper’s headlines are:  In the Culture-Art section: This weekend where will we attack? Books To Burn On Vacation. The Biennial Is Approaching: Are You Ready? Beatsticks can be found at the central ticket office. The bands to bash up at Rock'n Coke festival.

Vakit, the Islamist newspaper that initiated the protest against the concert on the grounds that wine was being consumed near some Islamic relics in the Topkapi museum. The paper’s headlines are: In the Culture-Art section: This weekend where will we attack? Books To Burn On Vacation. The Biennial Is Approaching: Are You Ready? Beatsticks can be found at the central ticket office. The bands to bash up at Rock'n Coke festival.

But back to the serious part of the issue: the Alpenler group which are the paramilitary organization of the turkish-islamist conservative Big Solidarity Party (Büyük Birlik partisi; BBP), whose leader recently died in a up to now unclarified helicopter accident, were heavily involved in the Sivas massacre. At this massacre, which happened to be at the 2nd of july 1993, over 37 progressive intellectuals, young activists and artists gathered in Sivas to commemorate their cultural icon Pir Sultan Abdal, a poet from the Alevi community, a syncretistic Muslim sect and minority that has been the target of discrimination and killings for especially orthodox muslim ultra-nationalists. The most important guest of the meeting and the most wanted target of the islamist mob was the reknowned and subversive writer Aziz Nesin, who incidentally at the time started translating Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” into Turkish. Local fundamentalist who came from their Friday Prayers including members of the Alperenler, who later turned out to be a major agitator of the fundamentalist uprising, set the hotel on fire, killing 37 people.
Furthermore, a member of Alperenler, Yasin Hayal, turned out as a main enthuser of Ogün Samast, the murderer of the famous Armenian writer Hrant Dink. Generally, the ultranationalists’ understanding of Turkishness, such as this of the Alperenler, reaches deep into Central Asia and encompasses all Turkic-speaking peoples, with an emphasis on Uighurs. Interestingly, the Uighurs are the people who became recently the victims of outrages in China).
I wonder why the Alperenler who are so concerned about their heritage don’t keep themselves busy with demonstrating for their sisters and brothers in China that they claim to have such strong primordial bonds to, instead of trying to keep a classical concert audience from drinking alcohol in an old Ottoman Palace.




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