“It all started with a tree”
What can penguins, pots and pans, jazz, folk music, police, Allah, a woman in red, gas grenades, nail polish, Noam Chomsky, children, alcohol consumption, family values, Turkish Airlines, red lipstick, possibly have in common?
If you are as puzzled now as I had been on May 30, 2013, then we are in good company for each other, when it comes to my attempt today to help us all understand and make sense of what has been happening in Turkey since.
It all began in Gezi Parkı, in Taksim, İstanbul with a hard core female terrorist. Please, heed particular attention to her white bag over her right shoulder and her left hand. You, too, will be convinced as to what type of destructive acts a ‘Woman in red’ is capable of:
The country’s unarmed, unprepared police force has, thus, suffered first in this heavily armed woman’s hands, as we all saw in the news coverage above; then, they were attacked by other terrorists:
Turkey’s current prime minister knew of the peaceful march initiated by his unarmed citizens to raise awareness for their rights to Gezi Parkı in Istanbul’s Taksim quarters, their public space since the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. Standing by his public alone, he did all in his power to help raise awareness and nation-and worldwide support for their actions. The significance of the park – other than its ancient old trees, benches, strolling paths offering the only natural haven in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities, was, after all, apparent to everyone who had basic knowledge about modern Turkey’s historical and cultural past. He, too, didn’t want any drastic steps erasing the city’s post-Ottoman Empire landscape. He, too, knew bulldozing this park would be unforgiveable. Therefore, the night of the first day of the protests by thousands of his people across the country, he ordered CNN-Turk – the nation’s primary source of information, to contribute to the spreading of the word with a penguin documentary . At the risk of becoming a source for mockery inland and abroad.
The protesting citizens just didn’t and wouldn’t appreciate his good intentions, or what he meant by his reference to them as çapulcu and “terrorist”, and their actions, “tencere tava, hep aynı hava” (“pots and pans, the same tune as always”). First, a few among them but then in growing numbers, were so unthankful that they composed folk music using pots, pans and other everyday items, now known as Tencere Tava Havası:
Then, students from Bosphorus University, one of the oldest and most prominent higher education institutions in Turkey, had the nerve to form a jazz ensemble, following in the footsteps of their pots-and-pans-musical counterparts:
Why did at least the half of his public end up with unrest that has been going on as I am writing? Despite the killings, being subjected to indiscriminate, horrific injuries, the debilitating blows to the face to take the eyes out, and other horrendous crimes against their rights to live as a human? After all, it is not that the Turkish prime minister has been tyrannizing the thinking, analyzing, alert population among his public with his multiplying, human rights-disregarding decrees of random conception, like his call for three children.
Why not abide by his iron fist that falls onto everyone’s bedroom scene and bring into his world for his sake a minimum of three children?
And what about this obsession of the same population with alcohol consumption? After all, drinking even a mere cup of wine –however occasional or frequent that may be, equates alcoholism.
Oh, then there is red lipstick! And, nail polish! Every woman not only in Turkey but in the rest of the world would be much better of living without the red and the polish.
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Let me, at this point, lend these events the somber tone they deserve in any re-narration. And mine won’t be an exception. (Not that I can think even for a minute you having taken me seriously throughout my preceding notes of dark humor.)
Amnesty International calls for prompt action against the use of “brutal police repression” and for ‘investigation’ of “abuses” in the “İstanbul protest”. A Reuters article, then, sums up how Turkey’s prime minister invokes Allah, demands protests end immediately. While routinely ordering his police to conduct their violent attacks on his own unarmed and peaceful public, in full knowledge of the ensuing consequences of senseless human suffering, he “invokes Allah”.
What has Allah to do with brutality against fellow human beings? Defenseless, at that? In a May 29, 2013 interview about the murder of a British soldier, Imam Ajmal Masroor (an imam is the head of a Muslim community) answers the question as clearly as can be: Nothing.
Though unrelated to the violence-inclined Allah invoking Turkish leader – Imam Masroor asserts in angry disbelief repeatedly how killings don’t belong in the Kuranic teachings (Kuran as the Holy Book of Muslims):
For the time being, it is the people of Turkey who need our fact-based knowledge about what is taking place in their part of the world. Tomorrow, it will most certainly be in a different segment of our planet. For greed, lust in and abuse of power, violation of human rights, brutality, the killing of the innocent does not solely a Turkish agenda make. In heart-felt empathy for but unfortunately geographically distant collaboration with those who presently suffer or may be subjected to suffering within their own country’s borders at another point in time, I end my words with a call to the world by Noam Chomsky in support of the Gezi Parkı Resistance: