Sunday, September 30, 2007

Turkey does not belong in Europe: Sarkozy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reaffirmed on Thursday he did not believe Turkey should be admitted to the European Union, while calling for a "true partnership" with the mainly-Muslim nation.

"I do not believe that Turkey belongs in Europe, and for a simple reason, which is that it is in Asia minor," Sarkozy said in a prime-time interview on TF1 and France 2 television.
Continue reading here.

Dutch Glory?.)

Dutch Special Forces...)

30th of September: His Birthday

Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi

"Mawlana says - if the sky is not in love, then it will not be so clear. If the sun is not in love, then it will not be giving any light. If the river is not in love, then it will be in silence, it will not be moving. If the mountains, the earth are not in love, then there will be nothing growing."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Living in Sin; the Ankara agreement

The last days I got emails from people who were confused about the Ankara Agreement and Ankara protocol.

Ankara agreement was an initial agreement to set up a sustainable cooperation between Turkey and (by then) the EC.

Ankara protocol was signed and ratified by the Turkish Government in 2004 but never fully implemented by Turkey, due to domestic nationalistic pressure.

Interesting detail in the Ankara agreement is that it excluded any Turkish born citizen of any political position in the EC. However, at the moment, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany have Turkish born politicians in their parliaments. The Netherlands even has a State minister of Justice, for Immigration. She has both the Turkish and Dutch citizenship.

The Ankara agreement never became really into force since Turkey never harmonized its laws with the EC, EEC or the now called EU.

Turkey applied in 1987 to join the EC, but was rejected. But finally in 1995 a Custom Agreement was signed. Still, Turkey didn't fulfill its obligations regarding harmonization of its laws with now the EU; Political, social and economical.

The ECJ is indeed the highest court but it doesn't have a say about the Community Acquis.
Simply: it has to follow the CA and its treaties.

And last but not the least: every lawyer knows that the law always will be interpreted 'in the spirit of the law, and not by the letter'. Which, of course, authoritarian states, don't acknowledge. Here we see the main difference in perception by the EU and Turkey.

Cirque de Soleil

The arena show of Cirque de Soleil, Delirium, started its European tour two weeks ago in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
I remember the early nineties, when Cirque de Soleil really started to make money, they had their European HQ in Amsterdam. With an enormous tent on the Museum Square in Amsterdam. I think that they had that tent there for at least one year. And it was tremendously difficult to get a ticket for their shows! Everybody wanted to see it.

Now 15 years later, different shows are touring at the same time over the different continents. And in 2004 Cirque de Soleil was no. 22 of the Brand Index of Interbrand.

Delirium set out to accomplish what no other Cirque du Soleil show has done before. This show tours from city to city, performing in an arena for only a few nights at a time before moving to the next location. The central concept of the show is to focus on the music of other shows. Because of its success two weeks ago, the three shows were sold out as soon they were announced. On the last day they decided to give an extra show in Rotterdam.

Delirium is a touring production designed to be presented in arenas, unlike Cirque du Soleil's other touring shows, which are generally performed in the round in specially designed tents. Delirium's stage is set up on the arena floor, bisecting it lengthwise. Its two-sided, raised stage allows for an alley theater-style presentation: the audience sits on both sides of the stage, at times able to look over the central stage to see the spectators on the other side. This presents unique staging challenges, in that the most important actions must be visible to both sides of the audience.

Unlike other Cirque du Soleil shows, where the musicians are off to the side and mainly out of view, Delirium's six musicians are often in plain view, and can be seen interacting with the other performers and various stage elements.
Despite the extraordinary complexity and size of Delirium's stage, it can be assembled inside an arena in approximately 9 hours.

As far as I know, Cirque de Soleil never performed in Istanbul, which is a pity since I am sure that Turkish people would love this!

Business is human again

This is Reza Oliaei, a good friend of mine in the Netherlands. I started working with him on transnational business in spring 2006.
I will put a part of his intro letter as CEO, published on his website, below. Why? Yesterday, Super Hero posted an entry about data. You can read it here. And this is all about 'secret data'.

Business is Human Again!

...the greatest transformation and evolution agent that makes your customer experience tangible…

What is actually the problem? Companies and organizations have become more and more impersonal due to globalization and international competition. The more global they try to be; the more inhuman they become at a point that we are starting to get used to receive “No, no, no” answers from them. It’s just a matter of time before we churn…

Do you realize how companies over-complicate the definition of a simple customer who struggling to find simple values and loyalty while trying to buy, pay and consume simple products and services? We are lost in loyalty cards, call centers, surveys, rewards, absorbed marketing actions, countless direct mails, never ending advertisement campaigns, rigid IT systems that dictate human factors, outsourcing that disintegrates the basic services, speed of technology and marketing growth that is faster than population growth. In consequence we get used to force customers to believe in our artificial and unwanted marketing traps to pull them down to drown into our operational silos and corporate bazaars.

Nowadays; consumers are searching for authenticity, genuineness, values and the organizations who don’t try to mean everything for everybody, but who have made a clear and distinct choice to deliver specific and adequate 1 to 1 values to each individual consumer and who do not try to 'lock-them-in' because of their incapacity, inflexibility, complexity and lack of understanding about who they really are and what values they truly deserve.

Friday, September 28, 2007

More blogs, more people to meet

Added several blogs to our blog roll:
First of all, Jake in Adana, whose former blog by Wordpress is not accessible anymore, but here is the new one.
Also another expat, Bea, a professional writer in Istanbul. Remarkable style of writing. Highly recommended.
Sincerae, another American in Istanbul, but going back to the USA. But will stay in touch.
And a blog, One world media, by the British journalist and photographer Onnik Krikorian, based in Yerevan. A very professional blog.
Mohammed from Baghdad is our guest writer. We agreed that I publish his postings under the name 'Last of the Iraqis'.

Met this week Esra, from Switzerland. Was a nice encounter. Only, she writes in Turkish, and is the only non-English blog on our blog roll.

How democratic are we?

The Economist, together with the Economist Intelligence Unit, published today the Democracy Index by countries 2006.
Of the bloggers on this blog, the Netherlands ranks 3, Australia ranks 8, Greece ranks 22 (all so called 'full democracies'), Italy ranks 34 (a so called 'flawed democracy'), Turkey ranks 88, Armenia ranks 110 (both so called 'Hybrid regimes') and UAE-Dubai ranks 150 (so called 'authoritarian regime'). The last on the list is North Korea which ranks 167.
Interesting to see that all the 'old EU countries' (before 2004) are full democracies except Italy, which is considered as a flawed democracy like Cyprus and some other newcomers in the EU.
Also, a country, the USA, which calls itself the oldest democracy (wrong, that is Iceland) ranks only 17. Turkey ranks regarding 'Economical freedom' badly, and regarding 'press freedom' it got the stamp: 'difficult situation'. Armenia ranks overall bad.
Read the report here, scroll down the page where you can download the ranking.

This Blog & Ethics

Some people still don't get it. This is a collective blog. Okay, I initiated it, but all bloggers on this blog, Turks, Dutch and a Greek, living in Armenia, Dubai, Turkey, Italy and Greece have the same rights and features as me here. Before you leave a comment, read on the main page 'about Internations'. We will not delete a comment quickly since we are all grown ups here, and not that quickly insulted. It's all about people's intention. And 'The pen is mightier than the sword'.

Ethics: Erkan put an interesting memo on his blog about blogging and ethics. In general I agree with this opinion. But in a discussion some time ago with friends of the European Association of Communication Directors, we came up with three 'sins' in blogging: Inciting hate against others (other sexes, other nationals, other religions etc.), falsifying facts and/or misinterpreting the truth on purpose and using a blog as a propaganda tool by defaming other minded people.

Let me say first that this was an informal meeting and these 'sins' are our own opinion. And for sure these are no rules.

Allies and/or friends?

I didn't see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad smiling that much while delivering his infamous and hilarious speeches at Columbia University and at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. But when he met his friend and/or ally PM Erdogan of Turkey he was one big smile.
His remarks about homosexuals, 'we don't have them (right, they will be executed) and women 'they are exploited in the West' (not right, but women in Iran don't have any rights) must worry Turkey. I personally don't think that this co-operation between Iran and Turkey will be a benefit to Turkey in the long run. We will see.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Last of the Iraqis - 4 - The Black Heart

About 1,000,000 deaths and 1,500,000 Injured Iraqi civilians since the beginning of the war in 2003, an estimation of 4,000,000 Iraqis have been displaced with 2,200,000 fled out of the country and the rest are refugees inside their own torn country (I believe the real number of Iraqis outside Iraq is greater than this).
Great numbers, right? a lot of zeros, a lot of grief and sadness, a lot of humiliation, a lot of black clothes, rivers of tears and many shocking stories, it's not just numbers. Just count all the people you knew throughout your life, not only the ones you talk to, but all the people you know, what their count will be? 500 or may be 1000? let's say 1000. Can you imagine that all the people you know are only 0.1% of the civilian casualties in Iraq.

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wordpress and a taxi driver

The ban on Wordpress is still there, after 5 weeks.
Some people found a way to get access to wordpress blogs by replacing the word 'wordpress' by 'wordprexy'.
Now we face the same problem again: no access available to this domain name as it is now blocked as well.

I know that Turks want to hear 'nice stories', beautiful stories. But I can tell you, talk with the Turkish taxi drivers. They are the most honest and they give me always a good time. But in business life...that's another story.

Today I took a taxi from Macka to Etiler, and waiting by the stopping lights a little girl asked me for money, trying to sell some water. Everybody was threated this child (Roman) as trash, chasing her away. I told the taxi driver to stop and I gave her some money. The taxi driver, confused, got suddenly tears in his eyes and give her a note of 20 YTL. She was so thankful, almost crying. We both know that this is nothing for one day: she can buy some food for her family...but what then? I gave her some coins as well, and I think she cashed that moment more money than the whole day, since in general Turkish people consider beggars as trash.
Anyway, we reached our destination, and the taxi driver's meter was still one. I wanted to pay him but he refused. In broken English he said: you paid already. Thank you.

On the way to Silk Road Bukhara and Samarkand

The armies of many of the great conquerors of the ancient and medieval world passed through these oasis cities: Cyrus the Great, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Timur (sometimes called Tamerlane). Transoxiana, as it was known, the land beyond the Oxus River, was the crossroads of the world. Its cities — Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and others, also my name Abu Derya River located within Uzbekistan — have been ruled and fought over by Sogdians, Zoroastrian Turks, Arabs, Samanids, and Mongols.

Me On the way to Silk Road

Merchants and travelers following the Silk Road between the Mediterranean, China, and India in the first millennium also sought food, water, and shelter in Transoxiana.


Timur's capital of Samarkand, which he intended to be the capital of the world, was built on the labor of tens of thousands of captured architects and craftsmen. The majolica-tiled mosques and schools they built, and the later buildings modeled on them, are among the most gloriously decorated buildings ever constructed.

The Guest House that we stayed in, Bukhara

Timur's immediate descendants, the Timurid rulers, were also enthusiastic builders. His grandson especially, the learned scientist-ruler Ulugh Beg, undertook many extravagant urban projects, building mosques, madrasas (seminaries), caravansaries, and khanagas (guest houses) in Samarkand, Bukhara, and elsewhere.

Turquoise Domes, Samarkand

When you admire the famed turquoise domes, the elaborately constructed minarets, the madrases blooming with stars and edged with Kufic inscriptions, give a thought to the resilience of these ancient cities. Among those nurtured here were the philosopher- scientist Ibn Sina and the poets Firdausi and Rudaki - figures with stature in the Persian Islamic world that, for example, Newton or Shakespeare enjoyed in the West .

Registan, Bukhara

The majority of sights lie scattered around the old town (shakhristan) and are thus most easily reached on foot. The following itinerary starts at Registan and proceeds through the heart of the old bazaar quarter to the area around the Lyazi Hauz square .

The Kalyan Minaret, Bukhara

The dominant feature in Bukhara is the Great Minaret. It was a beacon to the caravans. It dates back 800 years. The Bolsheviks, stupidly, bombed it in 1920 when they came into Bukhara. It was fixed a few years later with stone of a color which didn't exactly match.

This is a view of the Bukhara old town. If you look closely, you may be able to see Prince Charles; he was visiting Bukhara the same day as us! It is being said, that he is an expert in Islamic architecture.

Decision by European Court of Justice has been misinterpreted

Let me first say that I completely agree with President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu in this.
Some restrictions both in Europe and Turkey are discriminatory. And both sides have to work closely to overcome some problems.
When TDN published their article it was mainly based upon a telephone conversation between one of their journalists and the lawyer of the Turkish businessmen.
Again, when Turkish business people have true intentions to do business in Europe, a visa will be granted easily.

By this, today's article:

ECJ ruling not an answer to visa restrictions for travelling Turkish citizens

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


A decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) last Friday granting two Turkish citizens residence permits in the United Kingdom has been misinterpreted, stirring debate among the Turkish public on whether Turkish entrepreneurs would be exempted from visa obligations while travelling to countries within the European Union (EU).
President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, referred to ECJ's ruling while speaking about visa restrictions applied to Turkish businessmen, at the ''Window to Turkey'' conference in Brussels. Hisarcıklıoğlu said TOBB was not able to bring all of its harmonisation committee members for a visiting program in Brussels last week since the delegation was not granted a visa by the Belgian embassy in Turkey. Addressing EU officials Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “We need your support to solve this visa issue. Turkey should not be treated like Russia or the Ukraine in the visa negotiations. Turkey's association relations have the necessary legal background to solve this visa issue.” Hisarcıklıoğlu urged EU member states to take the recent court decision seriously.
Continue reading here.

UAE Upholds Press Freedom

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum,
Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE
and Ruler of Dubai.

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: In a victory for freedom of the press in the UAE, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, yesterday issued instructions that journalists in the country will not be jailed for doing their work.

The announcement was made by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister and Chairman of the National Media Council (NMC). For rest of news.

Well rest story is open to discussions. We do not really hear any bad crimes/burglary here in UAE. We are sure; there are lots of things that are going on but we don't hear about them. Time will tell whether UAE law will be practiced or not. Still can't talk bad about the country in the public, we do not know what we will be faced to.

Not too much to talk about or scare of anyway, as His Highness Shaikh Maktoum can walk around the Shopping Malls without security bodyguard, or just pop in to my husband's hotel for a lunch :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Ruling

Had a battle on this blog about the heading: Turks don't need EU visa's anymore.
Anyway, this person is going on and on.
I can tell from own experiences that it is not so simple as he now is saying that in fact everybody can start up a business all around the EU. Let me give one example: I went with Turkish top orthodontists to the Netherlands to look for possibilities to establish a practice there. The EU ruling in this is simple: you have to learn the language of the country where you want to practice.
The ruling of the ECJ is in fact very simple and can be read here.

If you want the full arrest, take a look at this, and you have to read only the points 50, 54 and 57. The funny thing of the whole ruling is that the European Commission supported Veli Tum and Mehmet Dari, the two Turkish nationals. Since they want to uphold the European treaties.
The main goal of Ankara agreement (and additional protocol): integration of Turkey in Europe. With the acquis communautaire as binding factor. The chapter free movement of persons is not even opened for Turkey.

The Queen Elizabeth 2

The Queen Elizabeth 2, which drew massive crowds when it visited Sydney harbor this February, will be retired to Dubai, where it will be refurbished as a floating hotel in the booming Gulf state. Reuters

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Dubai-owned company announced on Monday, Jun 18, 2007 that it bought the Queen Elizabeth 2, a giant ocean liner launched in 1967, for $100 million.
State-owned Istithmar said it plans to turn the passenger ship into a first-class floating hotel, retail and entertainment destination, berthed off Dubai's manmade Palm Jumeirah island.

The aging vessel, bought from the Cunard Line division of Miami-based Carnival Corp., will end its days as a tourist attraction, scheduled to open to the public at the beginning of 2009, Istithmar said in an e-mailed statement. Istithmar is a division of Dubai World, a government-owned holding company that also owns Nakheel, the developer of Palm Jumeirah. For more info.

Also Queen Elizabeth Hotel anchors in Kemer :))

Queen Elizabeth Elite Suite & Spa, a 325-room hotel designed and named after the world's one of the most famous ocean liners Queen Elizabeth, was inaugurated on Sunday at a ceremony in the western resort of Kemer, Antalya.

The hotel, which cost some 50 million USD, is expected to draw mainly British tourists.

The hotel's bed capacity is 1250.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dubai from the sky

The Wold and Jebel Ali Palm Island.

Dubai Palm Jumeirah and more.

Dubai Marina. For more pictures click here.

Dubai Creek. More pictures.

Black holes

Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, Libya, Maldives, Nepal, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam are the 'black holes'.
These fifteen countries are the enemies of free circulation of news through Internet. Nonetheless they are shamefully gathered together in Tunis.

Turkish PR of just Spam

Account Status Notification

We are contacting you to remind you that our Account Review Team identified some unusual activity in your account. In accordance with Isbank Internet Banking User Agreement and to ensure that your account has not been accessed from fraudulent locations, access to your account has been limited. Your account access will remain limited until this issue has been resolved please log in your account by clicking on the link below:

Online Security Team
Isbank Internet Banking.
Türkiye Is Bankasi A.S.

I found this email in my inbox. Yes, I know Türkiye Is Bankasi, but I don't have an account there!
I am curious about how they got my email address. I have the email address that they have used, since 9 years, but barely used it the last years. Is this the new way of doing PR in Turkey or a simple Spam?...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Erkan's secret Iftar - I fast My Way...

Pictures are taken with a hidden camera in Macka. Therefore the quality is not that good.
Erkan Saka, of Erkan's Field diary was caught on camera while breaking the fast on Saturday, 22 September. He was served a nice meal with a French PR guy. Look at his drink at the left side of his plate!

Erkan, almost starved to death, using some good Efes beer and his rice to digest his Indonesian food.
Later that evening he admitted that he was a Besiktas Hooligan...
Anyway, Denis, my French friend, and I told him to be more careful about his image..))

Last of the Iraqis - 3 - The Jail

As the date of My wedding anniversary becomes closer, I decided to make a surprise trip for both of us, me and my wife, to celebrate our anniversary for 3 weeks in Jordan. I wanted us to relax, live a normal life for a while, see our parents and have some fun and because I wanted it to be a surprise, I didn't mention it because my wife (of course) reads my blog. Anyway, I started to arrange the requirements of the trip, I needed to book tickets, and take a sick leave, because it's the only type of leaves that I can have, and I have to go to Al-Sadir hospital (formerly known as Al-Qadesia hospital) which is in Al-Sadir city (formerly known as Al-Thaora "the revolution" or Saddam city)! I don't know why they force any one who wants to take a leave to take it from there! I know there is a thin line between Braveness and stupidity, but this is a necessity to me and I have to go and that's what I did, Al-Sadir City is somewhere that not only Sunni are afraid to go but even most of the Shiite who doesn't live there, like my friend who is Shiite and whom I asked to accompany me there and was terribly afraid to do so, I know Al-Sadir city is the stronghold of Al-Mahdi army, but people thinks that it's the grave of anyone who dares to go there of course except the people who lives there, anyway I decided to go, I decided to take the risk to have some peace later. I wear raged clothes, and didn't shave that day so I will not bring attention.....

Continue reading here.

Mijn Istanbul - My Istanbul

A couple of weeks ago I met for the first time with the Dutch journalist Bernard Bouwman. He is correspondent for the Dutch quality newspaper NRC in Istanbul. Also for the impartial Dutch TV station NOS and the Radio 1 he is the correspondent. He is an interesting person who studied History, Philosophy and International Relations in Utrecht, the Netherlands, France, Washington DC and the UK. He got his Ph.D in Political Science at Oxford University.
He lives in Istanbul since 1999 and speaks Turkish.
This year his book was released 'Mijn Istanbul' (My Istanbul). He sent it to me by post since he is on a well deserved holiday. Today I received it and started reading. Must say, it's fabulous how he describes all kinds of situations he went through in Turkey, interviews with famous Turkish people. A book full of anecdotes. Unfortunately, it's still only available in Dutch. But English translation will follow soon. I don't think that it will be translated in Turkish...some 'sensitive' things would not be appreciated by a small minority. But his love for Istanbul is obvious.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wordpress ban became worthless!!

Plateau who runs a critical Iranian blog told me that if you want to have access to a wordpress blog in or outside Turkey, you simply have to replace the word 'wordpress' by 'wordprexy'.
For example, Michael has a blog at wordpress. But if you click on his blog you get this, but if you replace the word 'wordpress' by 'wordprexy' you get this...!!
Time to hack the sites of Adnan ...))

Japanese lessons

A friend of mine, Shizu (means 'songbird'), gives through Internet Japanese lessons for free.
It's fun for her.
Here is her blog.
Her sight is not that good, so she is using a screen reader.

Be careful with her..))

Throwing a minister a pie on the face and article 301...

Okay, I admit that we Dutch don't have that kind of respect for authority, especially not politicians, but also not the police forces. And the army? Never seen them. But we have an expression in the Netherlands which goes like: 'Of course we must obey the law, but the law applies only to our neighbors'...Hope you get it.
For politicians we don't like, we express that in a human and funny way: we throw them a pie on the face. Picture above is of Pim Fortuyn during his book presentation, where he got not one, not two, but three cakes on his face.

And during the World climate change conference in the Netherlands the leader of the American delegation, Frank Loy, got a nice cake full of whipped cream on his face... At least he tried to smile. Ah you get used to it..))

But also our Belgian friends know how to deal with this popular phenomenon: here the Flemish Minister for Environment, Kris Peeters, gets one.
It takes only some minutes to clean up the face and change the suit..))

So now, when, for example PM Erdogan gets a cake on his face, will the cake thrower get the electronic chair? I say this because since a Turkish student refused to shake hands (only women can refuse to shake hands under Sharia law..)) with the Turkish minister of Health Recep Akdağ, he spent already 5 days in jail and faces up to 2 years imprisonment.Why?
The student, Durmuş Şahin refused to shake hands with him and they had a 'cozy' conversation:
I don't shake the hand of a person who rules but does nothing for the good of the country”, and: “I don't shake the hands of traitors.” to which Akdağ responded: “You are the traitor. Your mother, father and whole family are traitors.” It is also claimed that two friends of Şahin that are tried for “openly insulting a public official,” said: “What is this ignoble person saying?” according to CNN Türk. And: “I am a Muslim Turkish child, you are a minister. How can you speak like that?”.
He is now facing a prison term of between six months to two years for violating article 301 of the Turkish penal code. So don't throw cakes to ministers and other saints in Turkey...

World famous pie attacks have taken place throughout the world, and claimed such illustrious victims as Microsoft's Bill Gates, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, former European Commission President Jacques Delors and Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm, who was last year felled by an organic banana pie at the opening of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

The most active pie throwers are: The Biotic Baking Brigade and Mad Anarchist Bakers' League in the U.S., The Meringue Marauders in Canada, T.A.A.R.T. in Holland and People Insurgent Everywhere (PIE) in the UK.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Last of the Iraqis 2

'Me and my wife were staying up late watching movies few days ago , I wanted to make us some tea, I went to the kitchen and I was filling the kettle from the tap water, and I don't know why I felt uncomfortable with the water, I decided to fill a glass cup so I can see the water'.
Continue reading here.

Piece Together Cyprus


There can be few mosques in the world with a setting more beautiful than that of Hala Sultan Tekkesi. The building is surrounded by dozens of date palms and cypress and olive trees, while in front sits a huge salt lake, a bright white sheet with occasional patches of water.

And behind it, in the distance, sit the multicoloured hills and mountains of central Cyprus. It is, quite simply, breathtaking. What makes it all the more remarkable is that the mosque, located in the south-east of Cyprus, is just a half-hour walk from the island's busiest airport.

First things first

Hala Sultan Tekkesi was built in 674 after Umm Haram, said to be the aunt of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), fell from her mule and died. Her tomb lies in an annexe next to the mosque, which is open to non-Muslims and is the first thing most people see when they arrive on that Mediterranean island.

While Cyprus is popular with package holidaymakers keen to spend a couple of weeks lying in the sun and partying, there is more to the island than the beaches and nightclubs it is famous for.

Continue reading here.

About Guest writers

This blog is a collective blog with Vassilli, an Australian born with Greek roots now living in Athens, Yasemin, a Turkish born but educated in Norway and now happily ever after living in Florence since 7 years, Myrthe a Dutch social women rights worker and lawyer in Yerevan Armenia, Derya, a Turkish woman, running with her British/German husband from one place to the other for 13 years, and me, Hans.
But sometimes we will allow other bloggers to post their point of view. Thank you Michael for your post of today.
Mohammed from Baghdad had a request. But we don't pay, since this blog is still made by volunteers, and we don't get paid either.
Anyway, I hope that the diversity of opinions will ground for a genuine discussion, since it's all about Turkey...and its neighbors.

When Radicals Take Over

Let me introduce myself: my name is Michael van der Galiën, founder and editor-in-chief of The Gazette, and American Studies student from the Netherlands. My girlfriend lives in Turkey, so I travel to that beautiful country regularly. I've also written several columns which were printed in Turkish Daily News. My own blog is, sadly, not reachable for people in Turkey: Wordpress - my server - has been blocked. I thank Hans for giving me the opportunity to write a post for this blog about this block.

As a blogger who spends a lot of time and attention to Turkish politics I was amazed, negatively surprised and worried a month ago when word came out that (a major blognetwork) had been blocked in Turkey. Turkish friends informed me that they could no longer reach my blog; they tried to reach other blogs as well, but it continued to give an error: a Turkish civil court had decided to block for all (decision no.: 2007/195).

A little time later, itself published an article explaining why they’re blocked in Turkey. It seems that one Adnan Oktar filed a complaint against because wordpress hosts some blogs that are critical of his works. Adnan Oktar is, of course, quite a well known figure in Turkey: he is a creationist who wrote a book dismissing darwinism. The title of this book is “Atlas of Creation.”

Seemingly, some people who have a blog don’t agree with Oktar’s creationist and Islamist views and regularly published articles criticizing him and his work. Oktar, who decided that no one should have the right to criticize him and to question his work went to court and a little while later the Turkish court had decided that one man’s right not to have his views questioned trumps the right of thousands of Turkish bloggers to exercise their freedom of speech.

There are two blogs who have spend a lot of time and attention to this blockade: AKP Watch and Istanbul Despatches. Both have tried to get people to organize to get the Turkish government so far as to undo the block. Sadly, however, their efforts haven’t accomplished all that much: everybody’s angry, but the Turkish government (and court) is conveniently ignoring the fact that tens of thousands of Turks suffer because of the idiocy of one lone man.

Istanbul Despatches, for instance, quotes from some of the e-mails Oktar’s lawyers sent to the owners of Wordpress. As ID’s owner Jim Colella points out, these layers and their e-mails “appear to go beyond the normal rhetoric of the legal world in justifying their actions on behalf of their client, not to mention being poorly worded in English.” Instead of trying to communicate with WordPress in a normal way, Oktar’s lawyers seem to resemble their client: they’re bullies. Instead of just attempting to get the blogs that attack Oktar blocked, they appear to be proud that they were able to get the court to block each and every blog.

Furthermore, although the lawyers charge that WordPress ignored warning the court issues, WordPress’ owners say that they have no idea what they’re talking about: they didn’t receive any warnings from any Turkish court they say. Suddenly, without them realizing it, was blocked. The lawyers themselves contacted the owners of WordPress, but every time they did, they did so in a threatening way, with no respect and instead of just sending one e-mail they “contacted us 17 times, that means that they would blast the same email to multiple address and when they didn’t get the reply they wanted they sent the same message over and over again.”

Bully tactics.

It’s a crying shame that the Turkish court has decided to do what Bully number One, Adnan Oktar, wanted it to do. The court should’ve told Oktar to shove it. By his work and publications he’s made himself a public figure – public figures are up for scrutiny and shouldn’t complain when people write ‘nasty’ things about them.

The silence from the Turkish government and Turkish media, meanwhile, is worrisome. Those who support the freedom of speech should be angry and passionate about this case. They should write about it as often as they can and they should put pressure on the government to de-block The AK Parti and its supporters say that they’re true Democrats, who support the freedom of speech, now is the time for them to stick by their words, and to put them into action.

Where’s the freedom-loving AK Parti now? Can it be that AK Parti leaders remain silent because Adnan Oktar is a reasonably popular figure among AK Parti members? AK Parti Watch writes in this regard: “Adnan Oktar and his infamous creationist nonsense is very populer among AK Party circles, even an AK Party’s Gaziantep MP Ahmet Uzer distributed Oktar’s 800 pages Creationist book to member of parli[a]ments… Moreover AK Party officals decided that Adnan Oktar books will be purchased by all public libraries in Turkey. Currently legendary even poet Nazim Hikmet’s book are banned in public libraries in Turkey.”

Perhaps it’s fair to conclude that the AK Parti supports the freedom of speech, as long as it’s not used in opposition to its own beliefs. This spells disaster and should cause many secularist Turks to worry about the direction their country is headed under AK Parti rule. It’s time for true democrats and liberals to stand up and to condemn Oktar and his merry bunch. If Turkey is serious about the freedom of speech and about democracy, its time of its leaders to resist temptations from its followers to silence critics.

For more about the bonds between Oktar and the AK Parti here are some sources (with thanks to AKP Watch):
- Hürriyet
- Hürriyet
- Hürriyet
- Radikal
- Radikal
- Sabah
- Gazete Vatan

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The day when the Profs of PSV made kebab of Galatasaray

Last year, PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands, had to play against the babies of Galatasaray of Turkey in the Champions League.
The first match between the two was in Istanbul, in November. A (Dutch) friend of mine and a Turkish friend met with each other at a nice cafe. After that, she (the Turkish Galatasaray supporter) had to leave. But she arranged for us a ride to a Galatasaray fan club cafe in Etiler. Have to tell you that this Dutch friend didn't know the sensitiveness of the Turks regarding football...
Anyway, we managed to be there on time, and soon the babies of GS scored a goal: 1-0!
The people in the cafe were yelling and screaming like a bunch of kids who just won the World Cup for players beneath 12 years..))
Then, the Dutch scored a goal: 1-1, and my friend was yelling and waving, and everybody was silent and looking at us...
It became worse: PSV made 1-2, and my dear Dutch friend, who was born in Eindhoven where PSV is from, jumped on the table and was cheering: 'more, more!'. I don't have to explain you how the people in the cafe were looking...
Anyway, later that season, AZ of Alkmaar of the Netherlands kicked Fenerbahce and Kayserispor from Turkey out of the UEFA cup..))
I am waiting for a game between the only real club in the world AJAX and GS or FB.....

Was Ataturk a Besiktas fan?

Yesterday I took a taxi from Levent 1. to Maçka. Suddenly we passed one of the many statues of Ataturk in Etiler. With the words I really could not translate. But several times the word Besiktas popped up. "Was Ataturk a Besiktas fan?", I asked the taxi driver, who gave me a big smile only and mumbled something like 'Fenerbahce'...
Most of the taxi drivers in Istanbul are Fenerbahce fans, some support Besiktas, and almost no Galatasaray fans. But this week I met a fanatic Trabzonspor fan!
As some of you know, I am a fan of Besiktas. Galatasaray is for the wannabees, Fenerbahce for the people who made a lot of noise but without really thinking what they are doing (look how they are play..!!) but the Eagles are for the real men like me...))
I think Ataturk would agree on this one with me..))

A notorious liar

By calling the people who made a video with his latest hit as 'The ones who made it have no character. It’s not suitable with my character and beliefs', he is a real joker. Okay, take away the video, and listen to his song only. A song where he implicitly is telling that people like the murdered Hrant Dink have to watch out.

In an interview with Today's Zaman he explicitly said: “I desired to attract attention to the games being played with the Black Sea region. I have similar songs in my other recordings. This one is misinterpreted. I received a lot of congratulatory messages from the public after my recording was released a week ago.

Türüt claimed that Greece and Russia have designs on the Turkish Black Sea region and plans to divide the country and that’s what concerns him.
This shows exactly his paranoid mind.

Read here the full article.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hi-Ha-Ho The

Okay, we know by now that the Americans are obsessed about the mob, sorry, Italians. But giving the Sopranos an Emmy...?
I always thought that Americans loved Peyton Place, Dallas, Jerry Springer, Bill Cosby, Married with Children and more of these nice all-American shows, especially the ones with a Hallmark Trade Mark...)) And telling that Big Brother is Euro trash (Sen. Graigh..)), a Dutch Show...aiii
Okay, the Godfather was a great movie, but awarding again a mob, therefore I love CSI Miami, Prison Break, Cold Case, Without a Trace etc. too much.
I am for the good guys..)) Sorry Metin!!

Anyone interested in this....

...request, send Yasemin or me an email, and we will provide you with the email of Carl.
I think that this can be pretty cool for many bloggers; a lively discussion between the Netherlands and Turkey can be interesting.
The Dutch television station which will broadcast this, is one of the best in the Netherlands.
For some grumpy people among you: this is your chance to say something, without restriction but within the borders of common sense..))

Dutch-Turkish blog discussion request; anyone interested

Dear Yasemin / Beste Hans,

I am a dutch blogger of the collective blog Sargasso (, we are actually one of the biggest blogs in Netherlands writing on a daily basis about politics, science and culture. We have around 5000 unique visitors per day and this results in lively discussions every day.

In the beginning of October we are planning to have a "Turkey & Democracy" week on our blog, coinciding with the International Week of Democracy (
We do this in cooperation with VPRO Tegenlicht ( a Dutch television station, they will broadcast their documentary "The Democratic Dilemma" on the 8th of October.
In this documentary the journalist Fareed Zakaria and prime minister Erdogan make some propositions on the issue of EU membership, the role of Islam and democracy in Turkey. In the days before and after the documentary Sargasso wants to arrange a list of people (politicians, writers, opinion makers) to react on these propositions.
To inspire some Turkish-Dutch blog discussion we also want to invite Turkish bloggers to react on these propositions (for this purpose we will write in English, while we normally write in dutch).
Because your blog is part of the Turkish blogosphere I want to invite you to react on eight propositions of Zakaria, Erdogan and Gul (scroll down). You can send your reactions to me and I will place them online on a specific day before or just after the broadcast of the Dutch documentary.

If you like I will keep you updated on this project and you are free to forward these messages to other Turkish bloggers. Hopefully we can arrange an online discussion that crosses borders.

The Turkish bloggers and expat bloggers in Turkey I contacted for this project are: (still looking for an email address) (still looking for an email address) (still looking for an email address)

I hope to hear from regards,Carl Königel
(Chief editor of


2004: Elections alone are not enough
1. ‘Elections don’t mean democracy. Elections can be very dangerous in young democracies if held in a wrong way and at a wrong time: it will appeal to a people’s hatred instead of to its hopes’.

Democracy has to grow
2. ‘Democracy can spread around the world, but it has to be a process of organic development from within societies. You have to be modernizing the country’. Are Islam and democracy compatible?

3. ‘The problem is not religion. It is the social-political context in which the religion exists. You can’t change the religion, but you can change the social-political context. It becomes a very hostile relationship with the 1.2 billion Muslims to tell them: the problem is your religion….’

Europe and people with different views
4. Recep Tayyip Erdogan: ‘Is Europe a home for an alliance of civilizations or is it a Christian club?’

Fear of Islam
5. ‘If your fear is about Islam – you already got it. You already have millions of Muslims within your borders’.

Tyranny of the majority?
6. ‘if you end up with a situation where people forget that there are other, large minorities in the country, that feel differently than you and you try to impose your will on them, then, yes, you have De Toqueville’s problem of the tyranny of the majority and that tyranny is as bad for a minority as it were a dictatorship’.

Turkey in the EU: a missed chance?
7. 'Europe can afford to deny Turkey a membership. You know, the world will go on - the world always goes on. And Turkey will survive, Europe will survive, but it will be a great missed opportunity. For both. And it will be a great tragedy because it would mean that Europe would have missed this opportunity to really use its influence and power to shape up the modern world. In many ways as I say, I think, to help itself injecting this new, young nation into its midst, but most fundamentally, to take the central problem of our time, which is to take the one civilization that has not yet found its way into the modern world, and to make it happen. And wouldn't it be fascinating if despite the fact that we live in an era of American uni polarity, it was Europe that actually led the path in that process. It has that just needs the political will. And courage, and generosity of spirit to recognize that it will be helped and it will help the world by doing it'.

Democratisation = islamization?
8. Abdullah Gül: ‘As Muslim societies democratize, you will see greater religious _expression everywhere in society. It is a consequence of democracy’

Monday, September 17, 2007

Desert Safari

I thought that my first post should be related to the region where I am living!

If you come to Dubai for a holiday or for any other reason, you shouldn't leave without doing a Safari :) With a licensed driver and a specially made Toyota Cruiser 4x4 with capacity for 7 persons, you will be taken to a place where you might think you are on Mars or something, or in one of those Indiana Jones movie screen shots :-)

Most of the hotels' concierge would help you with your Safari reservation; 180Dhr (49$) per person including food and drinks for a full 7 hours trip. I suggest not to fill your stomach too much, in case :) Generally around 15:00 hours, you will be picked up from your hotel lobby and taken to Oman-Hatta road. Before the Safari can start, they stop for taking the air out of the car wheels.

After riding up and down like on a slide at a theme park, but with a bit more fun (which is called 'Safari Bashing'), you will stop on top of the mountain to watch the sunset... Think that you may not see those mountains or valleys again tomorrow..

Afterwards you will be taken to a desert camp in the middle of nowhere, and if you want, you can ride a camel and get your photo taken...

Or you can dress up like a local emir with a disdas for men and black abaya for women ...
Or you can get a henna tattoo within 2 seconds on your leg, arm or back, wherever you like, made by an Indian woman. After eating a selection of Arabic food and drinks, come the belly dancer and a bit of Arabic music. Then you will be taken back to your hotel by 9:30pm.

You will definitely enjoy it for sure :)

With Love from Dubai

I have been following 'Internations Musings' for a while now. Hans has the greatest interesting subjects on his blog and we do not only get to know many people through his blog but also get informed as well. Well, when Hans asked me that humble question to join as co-author I said 'Yes'!

I have been asked to describe myself: I am Turkish, with full Turkish mother and Cypriot Turkish father, educated with hotel and tourism management background. As you understand from my surname, I am married with a British/German, well more like world-man really, as he has been out of his country since 20 years. We have 2 daughters, Isabella Aleyna 9, and Victoria Asya 7. We have been around the world due to working for international hotel company; 8 countries and 12 cities within 14 years, yes, it is time to slow down and settle down a little bit for the sake of the kids' schooling.

Have a lovely day, greetings from hot, sunny and humid Dubai!

Derya Lount

New co-author: Derya

Today Derya Lount, a Turkish woman, currently residing in Dubai, will join this blog as co-author. She has her bilingual own blog as well.
So we're now with 5 persons: Myrthe, Yasemin, Vassilli, Derya and me, Hans. I expect another co-author from Cyprus to join us soon.
Derya will introduce herself. Her surname doesn't sound Arabic or Turkish at all...the screen is for her to explain..)

On the same page...

An interview with the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, Mesrob II, read it here.

..and an article about the folksinger İsmail Türüt who is praising in his last song (lyrics by Ozan Arif) the people that killed Dink and Father Andrea Santoro, an Italian priest in the Black Sea region. Read it here.
Interesting to start your day and week with...racism...

Saturday, September 15, 2007


There is a lot of news about Iraq lately.
In general: another suicide bomb attack. How courageous.
But for the real life stories from Bagdad read the blog of Mohammed.

My first trip to Egypt

I was 17, 30 years ago, if I remember myself well..)) Made my first trip to Egypt. In fact, we, my friend Han and I, bought an inter rail ticket, which means: one month free traveling by train in Europe. But we already had our plans; straight to Athens, and then check how we could go to Egypt.
We left on a sunny Saturday morning from Utrecht, all the way to Athens, where we arrived the next Monday, late at night. Two and a half days by train...

After we checked in at a hotel in downtown Athens, we looked for a flight to Cairo.
We knew that IPEC (a student organization by then) offered one way tickets to Cairo from Athens. But, both of us were no students then. Anyway, Han 'seduced' the front office employee of this organization and we got our tickets: 25 USD each...

Our first visit in Cairo was of course to Gizeh.

See the pictures.

One of the most interesting part was 'climbing' in the pyramid, all the way up to the Kings' Chamber....

It is still a mystery, how this could be built....

More about my trip later...