Friday, January 04, 2008

Changes on this blog

Above Sandra.
I posted earlier that this blog will go through several changes. Not only the host will be a different one, but some co bloggers will be added as well. Unfortunately, Derya will not be able to be a regular blogger anymore, due to her job which requires a lot of time. She also told me that she cannot gain access to typepad. We will figure out how we can solve this since we like here comments and opinion. Its annoying that wordpress is banned in Turkey, so is blogspot in Syria.
New co bloggers will be Seda, a Turkish friend living in Greece, and a dear friend of mine, for years, Sandra. Born in Suriname and raised up in the Netherlands.
And last but not least: Bea, who will move back to the USA will contribute as well.
Together with a Dutch in Armenia, and an Greek/Australian in Greece, we will have a nice team here.
And there might be a chance that another 'yabanchi' will join this team.
Will keep you updated.

No freedom of religion in Turkey...

As Turkey is trying to convince the world in general and the EU in particular, about their religious freedom, below you will find an article about the intolerance the Turkish state imposed on non Suni Muslims and other religions. This is not an act of the AKP party but institutionalized the last 60 years.
While Turkish citizens are crying that there is no place to worship in Europe, Turkish people over there knows better: their Mosques and school are funded with government money. Even cultural centre's are established for a better understanding.

The ignorance or arrogance of some Turkish people is astonishing.
The article below is from here

"In Turkey, the freedom in need of expansion is freedom of religion. While each of the issues that is currently on the agenda is a priority issue, each also touches on a broader question which remains off the agenda: freedom of religion and belief in Turkey itself.

A significant problem facing religious groups in Turkey is the nation’s biased religious registration laws. Registration is required for religious leaders and institutions to serve the spiritual needs of their constituents.
Currently, the Sunni branch of Islam is the only “state-sanctioned” form of religion.
The Alevi Islamic Community is not recognized as a separate religious group and is instead considered to be a de-facto group within Sunni Islam. This lack of distinct recognition severely limits their ability to form their own houses of worship and leaves them suspect to the laws of the state that pertain to Sunnis.
The Shi’a community is not recognized as a separate legal entity either.
The Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Jewish communities are recognized as having “a special legal minority status.” However, this only applies to the individuals within these communities and not to their religious institutions, which severely hinders the ability of these groups to perform a wide range of functions necessary to maintaining and serving the needs of their respective adherents.

All other religious groups, including the Roman Catholic Church, mainline Protestant and Evangelical groups, have no official legal status within the Republic of Turkey.

Religious education is another significantly contentious religious freedom issue in Turkey.
There are two aspects of religious education that are particularly troublesome: the first is that Turkey requires a majority of its population to take state-mandated religious education classes; the second problem is the current restrictions that religious groups face in properly educating their clergy. Turkey currently requires all Muslims in the country, regardless of their sectarian affiliation, to partake in religious education classes.
Minority religious groups are exempted from these religious classes. The Alevis, and other Turkish Muslim minority groups, claim that these classes teach only the Sunni form of Islam that advances religious beliefs that are in conflict with their own religious teachings. These groups also complain that many of these mandatory classes actually demean and dismiss their beliefs.
Many other minority religious communities in Turkey face serious problems in educating their believers.
In 1971, the Turkish government closed all university-level religious schools, both Muslim and Christian.
There are numerous restrictions in place that hinder the ability of these institutions to reopen their doors, such as a requirement that all students be Turkish citizens, a very serious problem for Greek Orthodox clergy.
The government argues that these restrictions are necessary to prevent radical Islamic groups from opening their own religious schools that could spread a violent and extremist form of Islam.
These restrictions disproportionately burden the nation’s religious minorities.

The Greek Orthodox population has fallen to approximately 3000 people over the past several decades. They do not have a large enough population to maintain the primary Greek Orthodox seminary in Turkey – the Halki Monastery. Halki Monastery was among those university-level religious institutions closed by the government, and it faces numerous restrictions to reopening.

The Turkish Government will currently not allow any foreign students to be educated at Halki. Without foreign students, there are not enough Turkish Greek Orthodox seminarians to maintain an official seminary. In addition, due to legal restrictions mentioned above, this Monastery cannot call upon foreign seminarians to travel to Turkey to train the students of the Monastery.
In approximately a generation, the Greek Orthodox population will no longer have the capacity to train new theological leaders. Furthermore, due to legal restrictions that any religious leader in Turkey must be a citizen and be educated in Turkey, within a few years there will be no one that is eligible to be the new Patriarch of Constantinople. As a result, this religious group will have no way of practicing its faith or continuing its traditions. Without the ability to practice their faith or continue their traditions, the Greek Orthodox community will slowly disappear to the pages of history. The continued closure of Halki threatens the very survival of Turkey’s ancient Greek Orthodox minority and the “primus inter pares” of Orthodoxy, the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Turkey’s Greek Orthodox community is a victim of a silent genocide as their population, religion, and way of life are eroded over the years by actions taken by the Turkish government.

The Government periodically meddles in the internal functioning of religious communities. The Higher Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of the Government in a dispute over the Greek Orthodox Patriarch.
The government refused to recognize the use of the term “ecumenical” in reference to the Patriarch. This means that the Turkish government refuses to recognize the Patriarch as leader of anything more than the country’s small Greek Orthodox community, in contrast with the esteemed position that the Patriarch holds amongst other Orthodox communities worldwide.
As the government only allows Turkish citizens to be members of the Orthodox Church hierarchy, this condition places a great strain on such a small population.

Another cause for concern in Turkey is the recent string of attacks against Christians. In January 2007, a protestant church in Samsun was severely vandalized. In April, three workers at a Bible house in the city of Malatya were viciously murdered. The victims’ throats were slashed, and a fourth person inside the building was attempted to escape by jumping out of a window and was severely wounded. It is imperative that the international community pressure Turkey into prosecuting those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.

Every community of faith needs the freedom to practice their religion without worrying about either themselves or their religious institutions being physically harmed."

Sobering information about Drunk driving...

A friend of mine told me the following some rather sobering information about punishment for drunk driving convictions in other countries than in the Netherlands, where we have a zero-tolerance policy against drinking and driving.

He told me that
-In Australia, the names of drunk drivers are printed in newspapers under the caption, "He's drunk and in jail."
-In Malaysia the driver is jailed and, if married, the spouse is jailed too.
-In the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden there's an automatic jail term of one year.
-In Turkey, drunk drivers are driven twenty miles out of town and forced to walk back home.
-In Bulgaria, a second drunk-driving conviction results in capital punishment.
-In El Salvador, your first offense is your last -- execution by firing squad.

So, if you live in the centre of Istanbul, and they drive you out of the city, then another 30 km, wow, that's a hell of a distance. But if prefer the Turkish option over the El Salvadorian one...
But are these stories true?

Day Opening - January 4

Neo-nazi's in Russia...