BERIL – Ferguson and Turkey

Ferguson and TurkeyIt appears the unrest in Ferguson is not important only for Americans, given the large media coverage these events have enjoyed around the world. Even in Turkey, Ferguson has become a daily topic of discussion.

First of all, we have to admit that despite having an African-American president, the racial tension within the American society still exists. Many different aspects of these events may be discussed, such as the excessive use of force by the police, or the limits to the right to demonstrate, but these events were mostly triggered by the fact that the police officer was white and the young man he has killed was black.

In Turkey, people didnand#39t pay too much attention to this white-black divide, even though it would be interesting to discuss it in Turkey. One can of course say such a debate would be meaningless here, as the black-white tension doesnand#39t exist in Turkey.

However, like everywhere else in the world, Turkey has its andquotblacksandquot and andquotwhitesandquot and similar events have occurred between those andquotwhitesandquot and andquotblacksandquot in the past. The Turkish public opinion has mostly been interested in the use of police force in the United States.

Some people have suggested there are similarities between what is going on in Ferguson and what happened last summer during the Gezi protests in Istanbul. Naturally, as in all other debates, Turkeyand#39s polarized political atmosphere has dictated the debateand#39s course.

Some people claim the American police are using unjustified violence exactly as the police did in the Gezi park events. Some others say that, as the demonstrators are using violence against the police, the latter have to do their job and respond.

The second debate was about the media coverage these events have enjoyed. A number of Turkish commentators have suddenly accused the American media of not covering properly or sufficiently these demonstrations and of minimizing the Ferguson riots.

They probably want to say that the same American media have covered Turkeyand#39s Gezi protests as if it was the most important development in the world, but now turn a blind eye when there is a problem in their own country. I donand#39t know if those commentators have studied all international media reports in detail, and thus if their accusations are justified, but I know there is a nationalistic reflex in Turkey about international mediaand#39s news reports on Turkey.

It is a historical and chronic fact in Turkey that international media, and especially CNN, are accused of being partial and of spreading inaccurate reports about the country.If the events in Ferguson continue and Turkish public opinion remains interested, other aspects of this unrest will perhaps be discussed.

Maybe there will be people claiming that foreign forces are definitely involved in the events in Ferguson and that these forces have provoked Americaand#39s black minority in order to weaken the US administration. Because there are people in Turkey who genuinely believe that citizens would not pour into streets without foreign provocation, and without international conspiracies everything in the country will be just fine.

These people probably believe this is the same in other countries as well.Moreover, Turkish public opinion was extremely interested in Barack Obamaand#39s reaction to the events in Ferguson.

This is not surprising, as in Turkey people are always curious about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIanand#39s reaction to every single incident, including road accidents. It would be better, however, to remember that in the United States, local governments are powerful, governors are elected by the people and they are politically responsible for what is going on in their states.

It is always risky trying to make comparisons between different events in different countries. The Ferguson unrest has been a good example, however, of how a local event in a distant country may provoke heated debates elsewhere, motivated by domestic political calculations.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman