Agos, Today’s Zaman, Cumhuriyet

After the Paris attacks on Nov. 13, I wrote two short articles: one for Todayand’s Zaman, titled and”The Paris massacre: 5 Ws and 1 H,and” and one for Agos, titled and”Paris mon amour, Paris sa haine.and” These two articles provoked many positive and some negative reactions.
The negative reactions can be categorized on two opposite levels. On the one side I received messages accusing me of:
— being a traitor — being sold to Western powers — defending gavurs (infidels) instead of Muslims — being a gavur, etc.
One of the messages asked me if I am not ashamed to write in an Armenian rag. (For my readers who do not know Turkeyand’s dynamics in detail, I must say that Agos is a newspaper known for defending multicultural and human rights and was created by Hrant Dink in 1996, 11 years before the journalist was assassinated.) One Facebook comment says clearly, and”Do not rely on his Turkish name, he is an Armenian.and” What is interesting for a social scientist (the only identity category I accept) is to notice that in Turkish public opinion, people think that itand’s impossible to express an opinion outside of an ossified identity category. Turks defend Turks, Muslims defend Muslims, etc.
I received three similar messages asking me if I am not ashamed of writing for a parallel newspaper. (Media organs assumed to be close to the Hizmet movement are under constant attack from the government, being accused of being a parallel organization to the state. Freedom of the press is an empty word in current Turkish politics.)
Three of them are very close because their main preoccupation is not the article itself but the fact that itand’s written in English. For them, I am complaining about Muslims to non-Muslims (to them, people capable of reading English are inevitably non-Muslims). One message says clearly that yes, there are some problems among Muslims, that the Paris attacks are surely sad, but a Muslim such as myself — donand’t be surprised when I say I am used to simultaneously being considered Armenian, Jewish, Greek, Kurdish, French, a Muslim, a communist, an atheist and a parallel — must be very careful while dealing with non-Muslims (English speakers). and”We, Muslims — he or she says — can deal with our problems among ourselves.and” This idea of common religious belonging, and the existence of an Ummah that must be united against infidels, is very similar to the hallmarks of nationalism. When I write something negative about Turkish politics, apart from the usual insults, I receive very similar messages: and”Yes, Turkey has problems, you are right, but donand’t voice it to foreigners letand’s deal with it among andlsquoourselvesand’.and”
Letand’s finish this interesting category of reactions with a wonderful tweet. In France my work is based around minorities and intercultural relations. When I announced the beginning of the attacks on Twitter, one of my followers felt the need to say, and”You a******, you are supposed to love these intercultural crossings.and”
The second category of negative reactions can be qualified as and”comparatives.and” These reactions briefly reproach me for not seeing and”otherand” massacres in my articles. Almost all of them say, and”Yes, but you forgotandhellipand” You forgot Palestine, you forgot Beirut, you forgot Africa, you forgot how Muslims are suffering. I agree, Muslims are suffering and I have written many articles on that subject. Here my topic was Paris and yes, I confess, I regularly commit the mistake of writing in the heat of the moment.
Still in this category, there is another type of reaction from my side, if there is one. One of my colleagues reproached me for serving the and”clash of civilizationsand” madness in Europe by mentioning the attack on the and”European lifestyle.and” Briefly, my friend says, and”this discourse is very close to George Bushand’s statement saying that American freedoms are under attack and that without Syria, or Iraq, or discrimination in the suburbs of French cities, the attacks wouldnand’t be so harsh.andquot Well I agree and disagree, it is not and”ONLYand” hatred of the lifestyle of course, but it cannot be explained ONLY by the Middle East or European Muslimsand’ status. Assassins always find motivations.
The last reaction I will mention made me really sad. An esteemed person was disappointed that in my articles last week I didnand’t mention the Ankara and Suruandc bombings, accusing me (and”even youand”) of being trapped in a Western point of view.
He said: and”To see that you finish your article without mentioning Ankara is very sad for us. Yes, there has been an attack on the enlightenment of Paris but it cannot justify the absence of [any] mention of the Ankara attacks made towards socialists, revolutionaries and many people supporting the enlightenment. It seems that itand’s delicious to talk about Paris because the world has been [showing] solidarity, but you know that in our country police used tear gas [on] injured people. No one wants to remember that, even you, no one wants to make the connection. In Turkey, if you are socialist, Alevi or Kurd, you are not seen as an equal citizen. It seems that this is the case for you, too.and”
Well, what to say? This hurts me. Because I think, it is unfair. But my fiend is right about one point. A technical comparison between Franceand’s reaction to the Paris attacks, and Turkeyand’s reaction to the Ankara attacks, can be very useful and instructive.
Allow me to finish by congratulating the Cumhuriyet newspaper and Can Dandundar, who in Strasbourg on Nov. 17 received the Reporters Without Bordersand’ (RSF) press freedom prize for defending press freedom. This is well deserved. In todayand’s Turkey, Cumhuriyet is one of the last castles of the free press under constant state and economic oppression.


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