As Turkish soap operas reach increasing numbers of viewers in the Arab world, the sight on TV screens of Muslims drinking alcohol or conducting adulterous relationships is becoming commonplace - and the shows have presented a new image of relations between man and woman.
At the start of the protests that recently swept Turkey, journalists picked out one man with a luxuriant beard among the youthful crowds in Istanbul's Taksim Square.
Later he met the Turkish PM as part of a group hoping to mediate between the government and demonstrators.
That man is Halit Ergenc and he is internationally famous largely because of his role as a Sultan - hence the beard - in a Turkish TV costume drama, Magnificent Century (Muhtesem Yuzyil), that has been sold to dozens of countries.
Set in the Ottoman world, it spins the yarn of Suleiman the Magnificent, the longest reigning Sultan, and his love for a Western woman in his harem, with whom he becomes obsessed, and eventually marries.
About to film its fourth season, it is one of the shows that earned Turkey $130m in foreign sales last year - up from a mere $1m in 2007.
وصل رجب طيّب أردوغان إلى ذروة حياته السياسية: رئيس للجمهورية منتَخبٌ مباشرة من الشعب - أكثر قليلا من نصف أصوات المقترعين. يحكم تركيّا بقوة زعامته على حزبه مع أن صلاحيات الرئيس لا تزال محدودة في الدستور.
زعامة صار بالإمكان اعتبارها الأولى بهذه الأهمية في تاريخ الجمهورية التركية بعد زعامة مصطفى كمال أتاتورك التأسيسيّة. مع ذلك مؤشراتُ بدءِ انحدار هذه الزعامة وربما سقوطها الدراماتيكي آخذةٌ بالتزايد في عمق الأحداث لا على سطحها:
خسر أردوغان في الأيام الأخيرة أكراد تركيا. فقد انتبه حزبهم الرئيسي غير المرخّص، حزب العمال إلى أن اللعبة الداعشية التي يلعبها "حزب العدالة والتنمية" باتت خطرةً جدا على الوجود الكردي في سوريا. وجودٌ "اكتشفت" تركيا بعد اندلاع الثورة السورية أنه يمتدّ وبالتالي يسيطر ديموغرافياً على معظم حدودها مع سوريا فإذا بالأكراد السوريين (وأصولهم من تركيا) يشاهدون بأم العين والدم أن "داعش" تنفّذ مخططاً لضربهم عسكرياً إن لم يكن تشتيتهم.
ثار أكراد تركيا ثورة حقيقيّة في الأيام الماضية في حرب شوارع شهدها عددٌ من المدن ليس فقط في الجنوب الشرقي بل في الشمال أيضا لكنْ كانت أعنفَها مواجهات ديار بكر. وقد سقط في هذه المواجهات حتى مساء أمس الأول 31 شخصاً بمن فيهم ضابطان من الشرطة وثالث مصاب. الملاحظ أن المخابرات التركية عادت في بعض الأحيان للوقوف وراء مؤيّدي "حزب الله" التركي (لا علاقة له بالمنظومة الإيرانيّة) وهو حزب رعت إنشاءه المخابرات العسكرية التركية قبل أكثر من عشرين عاما وقام بأدوار محلية أمنية في مناطق الأكراد باعتبارِ ادعائِه أنه قوة "كردية". الجديد في ما حصل في الأيام الأخيرة بسبب الوضع في عين العرب - كوباني هو عودة الرئيس أردوغان إلى أداة هي "حزب الله" كانت معتمَدة في عهد السيطرة العسكرية على السياسة التركية وفي فترة كان حزب العمال الكردي يستخدم أساليبَ إرهابيةً من المفترَض أنه تخلّى عنها اليوم حتى إشعار آخر. مع ذلك تتهم الدولة المتظاهرين الأكراد باستخدام العنف إلى حد أن نائب رئيس الوزراء السابق والنائب الحالي في كتلة الحزب الحاكم أمرالله إيشلر قال في تغريدة له في موقعه على "تويتر" أن إرهاب حزب العمال أكبر من إرهاب "داعش". أكثر من ذلك... فالصحافية ياهو أوزيورت كتبت أن الكثير من الشباب في "العدالة والتنمية" معجبون سراً بـ"داعش".
كان مُعَبِّراً في هذا السياق أن الحزب القومي المتشدّد اقترع مع قانون تفويض الحكومة بالتدخل البري في العراق وسوريا. وهو حزب معارض تقليديّاً لمطالب الحركة الكردية كما أنه جزء من معارضة سلطة "حزب العدالة والتنمية". مما يكشف عودة البعد الصراعي بين العصبيّتين التركية والكرديّة. وهي في الحقيقة عودة رجب طيّب أردوغان للعب على وتيرتها.
قال لي صديق تركي هو أستاذ علوم سياسية في إحدى الجامعات التركية... قال لي أمس على الهاتف من اسطنبول أنه واثقٌ لو أن الأكراد الذين تظاهروا بغضب شديد في الأيام الأخيرة جرى استطلاع رأيهم حول الانتخابات الرئاسيّة الأخيرة لقال معظمُهم إن لم يكن جميعهم أنهم نادمون على إعطاء أصواتهم لصالح أردوغان. وهذه ملاحظة تستند إلى حقيقة أن أردوغان نال معظم الصوت الكردي بسبب النظرة إليه على أنه سيواصل "المسار السلمي" معهم الذي يعطيهم حقوقا سياسية جديدة في إدارة مناطقهم. وقد ساعدت العلاقات الاقتصادية والسياسية القوية لحكومة أردوغان مع إقليم كردستان العراقي ورئيسه مسعود البرازاني على تعزيز اتجاه الصوت الكردي نحو شخص أردوغان. ولا شك أن هذا الصوت ساهم في حصوله على الأغلبية ولو الضئيلة التي حصل عليها.
خسر أردوغان أكراد تركيا الآن وفي العام ونصف العام الذي سبق انتخابَه رئيساً خسر الفئات الشبابية المدينية والليبراليّين عبر تظاهرات "ساحة تقسيم" أي عمليا خسر النخب المدينية وقبل ذلك كان قد خسر معظم الصوت العلوي وما بقي له هو تل الكتلة الضخمة التي تستند عليها أكثريّتُه العددية في الأرياف وضواحي المدن وبعض أحيائها الشعبية من الشرائح الدنيا من الطبقة الوسطى.
وخلال العام المنصرم خسر أردوغان جزءاً مهما من النخبة الإسلامية المتنورة التي تحالفت طويلا مع "حزب العدالة والتنمية" عبر خسارته لحركة "حزمت" وزعيمها الشيخ فتح الله غولن الأمر الذي استتبعته حركة اعتقالات غير مسبوقة في صفوف الشرطة بسبب مساهمة ضباط فيها في كشف فضيحة فساد طالت ابن أردوغان وعددا من قيادات حزبه. كل هذا في سجل الخسارات فضلا أصلاً عن المعارضة العلمانية الواسعة وحزبها التقليدي "حزب الشعب الجمهوري".
ذروة القوة من الممكن أن تفتح على منحدر الضعف فيما أردوغان يذهب بعيدا في مغامرته الجيوبوليتيكيّة التي يحاول الغرب ضبطها في سياق استراتيجيّته.
كتب أحد المعلّقين في صحيفة "حريات" (يوسف كانلي) أن كوباني وتركيا تحترقان معاً.
هذا ما لا يستحقّه بلدٌ هو تركيا يمثّل قبل أردوغان وبعده فرصةً رياديّة في العالم المسلم لمصالحة الإسلام والحداثة.
رجل مثير للشفقة. دافع الشفقة عليه إنساني، لأنه رجل مريض بعدة أمراض مركبة. تجعله مثاراً للسخرية . الرجل هو الرئيس التركى رجب طيب أردوغان.
عاش الرجل حياته يحلم باستعادة مجد غابر لإمبراطورية استعمارية بلا أمجاد، انتهت بوصمة وصفها برجل العالم المريض هى الإمبراطورية العثمانية التى ما زالت البشرية تدفع أثمان جرائمها حتى الآن.
وهذا حلمه الاول المستحيل ولأنه لا يدرك ولا يصدق استحالة تحقيق حلمه فقد أصبح الحلم مرضاً، جر على عقله أمراضا أخرى، تضعه طوال الوقت فى موضع المصاب بالعته وتجلب السخرية منه، فالمسكين لا يرى صورته وهو فوق منصة الخطابة، معجباً ومنتشياً بذاته مختالاً متغطرساً ينطق الحروف والكلمات بقوة القادر على تدمير العالم.
وكونه لا يدرك حجمه الحقيقى وقدرته على الفعل فهذا مرض أو على الأقل تشوش يصيب عقول المصابين بجنون العظمة والنرجسية أو عشق الذات .
وما إن يمسك بميكروفون الخطابة، تنفر عروقه ويؤدى أداءً مضحكاً لرجل من عشرينيات القرن الماضى يرتدى البدلة الشركستين البيضاء والحذاء الأبيض، ممسكاً بالمنشة الشهيرة فى ذلك الزمان، وفوق رأسه الطربوش الأحمر يغطى خصلات شعره المعتنى به بدهنه "بالفازلين" وبالتأكيد مثل هذا الرجل يضع فى بؤرة اهتمامه أن يتعطر بعطر نفاذ ليكن عطر" اللافندر" .
مسكين هذا الرجل الذى لم يجد من يهمس فى أذنه منبها أنه مثير للسخرية، فقد صورت له أوهامه، وخبل عقله أن يتعامل مع مصر بصفتها ولاية عثمانية وأنه قادر أن يرفع إصبعه فى وجه الشعب المصرى صارخاً "أنتم عبيد إحساننا" وهذه حالة مرضيه تستحق البحث والمتابعة، وقد يحتاج لمن ينقل له كيف سخر الشعب المصرى من سلاطين إمبراطوريته الفاشلة. يستحق حتى يعرف قدره أن تروى له قصة التركى عندما يفلس. قصص شكلت صورة أمثاله وتنطق بعبقرية شعب جعل من سلاطين الباب العالى فى الاستانة "نكتة".
هذا الرجل المرفوض من نصف الشعب التركى تقريباً مصاب أيضا بمرض جماعته من أتباع حسن البنا وهو مرض الإنكار، عدة أمراض مركبة فى شخص واحد بالضرورة ستجعل منه شخصا مثيرا للشفقة وباللهجة المصرية "راجل مسخرة " . المصدر
Turkey's fear of a reignited Kurdish flame By Mark Lowen BBC News, Istanbul
Could Turkey be about to return to the bad old days of armed conflict with the Kurds?
Troops on the streets, curfews for the first time in 22 years, protests in almost 30 cities and state buildings attacked - the situation is dangerous and escalating fast.
Some of the fighting is among Kurds, between Turkey's Islamist Hezbollah group - which backs Islamic State (IS) - and supporters of the PKK, the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is vehemently opposed to IS militants.
But the main protests - and the fiercest anger - are directed at the Turkish government.
Kurds feel Turkey sees them, rather than IS, as the real enemy. More...
يتصل بي في الآونة الأخيرة بعض الأصدقاء والقراء اللبنانيين والعرب مبدين استغرابهم - بل استنكارهم - لموقفي المتواصل المؤيد لنظام الرئيس المصري المشير عبد الفتاح السيسي. ومن هؤلاء من يجد في نقدي الشديد لسياسات الرئيس التركي رجب طيّب أردوغان علامة تناقض وعدم انسجام في توجهاتي كصحافي لبناني عربي يعتبر نفسه بشكل طبيعي في صف الانحياز للمعايير الديموقراطية؟
لا أجد غضاضةً في أن أضع نفسي في موقع الدفاع عما هو فعلاً يمثّل خطاً ثابتاً في فهمي كمواطن ومعلّق سياسي للأحداث الجارية في منطقتنا وهو "خط" تأييد التحوّل المصري منذ 30 يونيو 2013 - تحوّل أراه كامل الشرعية الشعبية - والاستمرار في رفض "انحرافات" داخلية وإقليمية لسلطة الرئيس أردوغان.
أبدأ، باختصار، بتحديد معيار بات جوهريا في نظرتي للأمور في السنوات الأخيرة ولاسيما بل انطلاقا من موجات " الربيع العربي" وهو أولوية معيار منع انهيار كياناتنا ودولنا في العالم العربي كقضية وجودية تتقدّم على القضية الديموقراطية. في هذا المعيار وحدها مصر نجحت في منع حدوث حرب أهلية تفتِّت مجتمعَها ودولتَها بعد نجاح ثورة 25 يناير الديموقراطية عام 2011. بينما أربع دول عربية بعضها كسوريا والعراق تملك كل ٌ منها شخصية وطنية سياسية فعالة تاريخيا منذ عشرينات القرن العشرين وبعضها الآخر رغم تعقيد توحيده الكياني كان في ظل دولة واحدة وهما اليمن وليبيا... أربع دول هي حاليا في طور التحلّل بل الانهيار. هذا وكاتب هذه السطور يكتب من عاصمة دولة هي بيروت مهدّدة بالانفجار ربما من حادث سير عادي!
هل يُراد لنا بعد كل هذه التجارب أن نقيس النظام المصري الحالي بمعيار سلوكياته العسكرية والأمنية بمعزل عن مخاطر انهيار الدولة؟ هذا لا يعني طبعاً وقطعاً القبول بالتماديات بل التجاوزات القضائية والبوليسية ضد ناشطين مدنيين لا سيما منها تلك التي ليست في قلب المواجهة العسكرية بين النظام وبين "الإخوان المسلمين" الذين يخوضون حربا عنفية حقيقية ضد الجيش والدولة وليسوا مجرد "ضحايا" مدنيين.
أما في تركيا البلد المستقر والأكثر قوة اقتصادية وتحديثية من مصر فقد نشأت ظاهرة تسلّطية تتمثّل بسلطة رجب طيب أردوغان داخليا وبسياسات تفتيت إقليمية في سوريا والعراق. المفارقة أن هذه السلطة نجحت سابقا في إنهاء الوصاية العسكرية التقليدية على الدولة وفي تحقيق إنجازات اقتصادية لكنها اليوم أنشأت نوعا من السلطة البوليسية البديلة باسم كتلة انتخابية كبيرة ولكن هذه السلطة خسرت الدعم السابق الذي كان لها من الليبراليين والنخب الثقافية والشبابية من غير الإسلاميين. كل هذا في وضع تفاقم فيه النزوع الطائفي لـ"حزب العدالة والتنمية" داخليا وبالتوازي مع سياسة إقليمية عربية مرتكزة على الاستقطاب المذهبي باسم مواجهة نظام سوري لا شك باستبداديته. كانت تركيا نموذجا محتملا مختلفا عن إيران والسعودية وإذا بقيادة أردوغان تحوّلها في مضمار المنافسة الأيديولوجيّة إلى إيران أخرى وسعودية أخرى بينما كان الكثير من النخب العربية يتطلع إلى نموذج تحديثي مختلف.
هل تدمير سوريا هو الطريق الوحيد الذي كان مطلوبا سلوكه في مواجهة النظام السوري أيا تكن مساهمته كنظام في التدمير؟ هناك أسئلة كثيرة تبدو مؤجلة اليوم تحت وطأة طاحونة الصراع وهي مطروحة على "ضمائر" مثقفي وناشطي الثورة السورية المدنيين وأهمها بالمطلق هل كانت "عسكرة الثورة" هي الطريق الوحيد لاستمرار مواجهة النظام أم أن سياسةً سلمية مدنية معارضة مهما كانت أكلافها البشرية وحتى العمرانية أفضل لسوريا التي دمّرتها العسكرة بين المعارضة والنظام؟ لم نجد حتى اللحظة جوابا شجاعاً علنياً من المثقفين السوريين المنخرطين في الصراع غير تحميل النظام هذه المسؤولية أو الاكتفاء بالاعتراف في المجالس الخاصة بـ"لعبة الأمم" التي فرضت نفسها.
مصر احتفظت بوحدتها المجتمعية والدولتية ولذلك هناك كل المجال للنضال الديموقراطي لتحسين شروط العمل السياسي فيها. أما سوريا واليمن وليبيا المتمزّقة والممزّقة فلا معنى حاليا للنضال الديموقراطي فيها وهي التي تتحلّل وجودياً. طبعاً الاستثناء الإيجابي "الثوري" الوحيد يأتي من تونس التي تجمع بين وحدتها الوطنية وتطويـر خيـاراتها الديموقراطية. لكن لنتذكّر أن "مفتاح" هذه العقلانية التونسية هو احترام إسلامييها بقيادة الشيخ راشد الغنوشي لقيم الكتلة العلمانية الاجتماعية الكبيرة واحترام الوحدة الوطنية ومواجهة التطرف. وهذا بالضبط عكس ما فعله "الإخوان المسلمون" المصريّون.
اما انحيازي للنموذج التركي التحديثي الذي تبلور كنموذج قبل "حزب العدالة والتنمية" وخلال انطلاقته الأولى وسيستمر بعده فهو انحيازٌ متواصل. المطلوب الآن دعم القوى والنخب المدينية والشبابية التركية في سعيها لمنع الرئيس أردوغان من الاستمرار في تشويه النموذج بل ضربه كأكبر فرصة معاصرة لنجاح علاقة الإسلام بالحداثة؟
The Ak Saray dominates the skyline on the western edge of Ankara
A controversial new 1,000-room palace built for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will cost about £385m ($615m) - nearly twice the previous estimate, Turkish officials say.
Known as Ak Saray (White Palace), it was built on a forested hilltop on the edge of the capital Ankara, on more than 150,000 sq m (1.6m sq ft) of land.
Mr Erdogan opened the palace on 30 August after becoming president.
His AK Party has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade
President Erdogan is pictured here at the foot of a staircase in the Ak Saray
The palace is bigger than the White House in Washington, the Kremlin in Moscow and even the Palace of Versailles near Paris.
Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, quoted by Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper, said most of the 1.37bn Turkish lira ($615m) cost had been paid, but another $135m had been budgeted for it in 2015.
The palace has sumptuous marble corridors and atriums, as well as high-tech systems to prevent electronic eavesdropping.
State-of-the-art technology was used in the palace project, officials say
Environmentalists accuse Mr Erdogan of spending public money on lavish construction projects to the detriment of green areas. Activists defending Istanbul's iconic Gezi Park clashed with police in June 2013.
Hurriyet says the palace project was controversial because hundreds of trees were cut down to make space for it, in what had been a forest reserve bequeathed to the nation by modern Turkey's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
The finance minister also said $185m would be spent on a new Airbus A330-200 presidential jet.
The palace is bigger than a host of more famous state buildings, including the Kremlin and Buckingham Palace
A presidential aide, Fahri Kasirga, said other presidential properties would be renovated next year, notably the Huber Palace in Istanbul and a guest house in Marmaris, on the Aegean coast.
Mr Erdogan has moved out of the more modest Cankaya Palace in Ankara, which will now be used by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
The presidency was once a more ceremonial role than when Mr Erdogan took office
Footballer Deniz Naki flees Turkey for Germany after attack
A Turkish-German footballer targeted in an allegedly racist attack has left his club and flown out of Turkey.
Striker Deniz Naki, who plays for Turkish Super League club Genclerbirligi, was attacked in Ankara on Sunday and got a black eye as well a minor injury to a hand.
He had recently expressed support on social media for the Kurds defending the strategic Syrian border town of Kobane from Islamic State (IS) attack and posted comments and pictures criticising IS militants.
Naki told the BBC he was attacked by three men while out buying food.
Once they recognised who he was, he said they they started insulting him for being of Alevi-Kurdish origin - a religious and ethnic minority in Turkey. Turkey has an Alevi population of up to 15 million, including both ethnic Kurds and Turks.
"They were swearing and asking: 'Are you that dirty Kurd? Are you Deniz Naki?'" he said.
"Then they said: 'Damn your Kobane, damn your Sinjar'. I tried to calm them down. But suddenly one of them punched me in the eye. Trying to defend myself, I punched one of them back and started running away.
"As I was running I heard them shout: 'Was the first warning not enough? This is your second and last warning. Leave this country, leave this city, leave this football club!'"
He boarded a flight back to Germany on Tuesday night.
Naki was targeted on social media six months ago because of a tattoo he has on his right arm that reads "Dersim 62", the traditional name and vehicle number plate of the eastern Alevi-Kurdish town of Tunceli.
He played for German clubs St Pauli and Paderborn before being transferred to Ankara top-flight team Genclerbirligi last year.
His decision to leave Turkey now was not down to fear, but rather concern for his family and friends, he said.
This time he was punched, but what if next time he ends up stabbed or shot, he asks.
"If I go out with my team-mates and one of them gets injured, how can I live with that? If I go out alone, I might get attacked again three or four months later.
My parents live in Germany. They were worried. They couldn't sleep at night. That's why I chose to leave."
Asked about his future plans, the 25-year-old told the BBC he had no intention of returning.
"There is no tolerance. I would only go back because I love my country, I love my hometown. That's it. I will carry on with my career in Germany."
Radical Turkish Leftists Attacked Three US Sailors In Istanbul
Three US sailors from the USS Ross were attacked in Istanbul today by radical Turks belonging to the Youth Union of Turkey (TGB), an extreme leftist organization.
The three sailors were confronted by a small gang of Turks belonging to the TGB in the tourist-frequented neighborhood of Eminonu, in Istanbul's historic Golden Horn. The mob began the confrontation with the sailors by saying "we define you as murderers, as killers," in English.
The TGB members then threw red paint on the sailors and attempted to hood them with cloth bags. During the encounter, the gang chanted "Yankees go home," also in English.
The confrontation was filmed and placed on YouTube and the TGB featured an article on their website proclaiming the incident as a successful effort against US imperialism.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who is currently in Turkey, has released the following statement against the assault:
Today's attack on three Sailors from the USS Ross in Istanbul is reprehensible. We are certain the vast majority of the Turkish people and the Government of Turkey do not condone this act against these representatives of a friend and ally.
We understand that local law enforcement have suspects in custody. We commend this swift action and are certain that those who did this will be held accountable.
We have long-enjoyed a strong relationship with Turkey for many years. As NATO allies, we share common interests, and this incident will have no impact on that strong relationship. Turkish ports have long been very popular destinations for U.S. Navy ships, and our Sailors have enjoyed the warm hospitality that has traditionally been extended.
The TGB is a self-described left-wing nationalist and revolutionary youth organization. They strongly identify with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the secular nationalist founder of the modern Turkish republic, but support socialist economic policies and are strongly opposed to "imperialism."
The group was formed in 2006, and is strictly against any form of internationalism. The TGB opposes the US and are against Turkey' joining the European Union. They are also opposed to the ruling AKP party headed by President Recip Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey has ruled to recognise Alevis' places of worship but there are worries over the outcome of this decision.
Umar Farooq Last updated: 18 Dec 2014 09:22
The rocks where Alevis hid during the massacre in 1938 [Umar Farooq/Al Jazeera]
Along a road overlooking a scenic valley in the Turkish Anatolian heartland is a series of giant grainy black and white photos; shackled men being led away, families huddling in bare mountains, surrounded by armed soldiers.
The memorial depicts a 1938 massacre of Alevis, an event that serves as a stark example of just how far Turkish society needs to go to understand this minority of about 12 million.
Most Alevis in Turkey are Kurds who speak Kurmanji or Zazaki, and follow a tradition that mixes Anatolian folk practices and Shia Islam. It is distinct from Arab Allawism found in neighbouring Syria.
In response to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on December 2, the Turkish government has announced plans to recognise Alevi gathering places, or "cemevis", as places of worship.
But many Alevis themselves fear the changes will end up exposing their faith to further domination by Sunni Islam.
Laila, 38, goes hiking in the same hills near Tunceli where her late father took shelter from soldiers eight decades ago. "He used to tell us about men with guns surrounding him, and the sound of bombs falling," she says.
The young Turkish Republic, looking to put down a revolt by Alevi Kurdish tribes, dispatched thousands of troops to Tunceli, then called Dersim, in a campaign that, according to government records, killed around 13,000 people.
Many of the women and children who took shelter in the caves starved to death, others were killed in air strikes. Thousands of children who survived were adopted by Turkish soldiers, and many were raised as liberal Sunnis.
"They tried to forget what happened to them, and usually didn't even tell their own children how they used to be Alevis," says Cilem Oz, a researcher at the Istanbul-based Dersim Research Foundation.
Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made a landmark trip to Tunceli to announce the conversion of a former military barracks into a museum commemorating the 1938 massacre, and to rename a local university, Munzur University, after a nearby valley that is a pilgrimage site for Alevis.
"Only the police, army, and some members of the AK Party came to see him," says Sinan, an Alevi medical doctor who declined to offer a last name.
"Davutoglu supposedly came for good reasons, for making peace, for solving Alevi issues, but nothing is happening," says Sinan, whose grandfather told him he lost two teenaged brothers and a sister in the 1938 massacre.
Davutoglu's AK Party has offered condolences for the massacre, but blames it on right wing nationalists, who ruled the country unopposed for decades. At Tunceli, Davutoglu dubbed the massacre a "modern-day Karbala", referring to the 7th century killing of the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, an event commemorated by Sunni and Shia Muslims, as well as Alevis.
A few days after Davutoglu's visit, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli also visited Tunceli, lambasting the prime minister for sympathising with "separatist terrorists", minutes before being forced to cut short his visit by thousands of indignant locals.
"We don't see any difference between the AK Party and the MHP," says Sinan, who, like other Alevis Al Jazeera spoke to in Tunceli, sees the visits as little more than political posturing.
"[Davutoglu's] visit was an attempt at assimilation, he tried to define a Muslim, define us [Alevis] as Muslims, and we do not want this," says Engin Dogru, head of the Kurdish Democratic Regions Party in Tunceli. A spokesperson for the prime minister did not respond to Al Jazeera's request for comments.
Kadir Bulut, 30, is one of the few remaining "dedes" in Tunceli, a traditional leader from the lineage of Prophet Muhammad that performs ritual baptisms for newborns, officiates at funerals, and organises weekly gatherings at cemevis. "Things are changing," he says, "there are less 'dedes' and less Alevis than before".
"There were hundreds of births here last year, but I only performed three ceremonies." Alevis are moving away from the region, often to study or work elsewhere, and many are losing their Kurdish language and Alevi upbringing, prompting fears they could be influenced by Sunni Islam.
Bulut supports the official recognition of cemevis as places of worship, but is apprehensive about further measures, like proposals to waive utility bills for cemevis, and training and paying dedes, as Sunni imams are now. Both measures would institutionalise traditionally independent Alevi institutions.
It is recommended Alevis visit the cemevis every week, he says, but not a requirement - gatherings have historically been held in homes, caves, even under trees. Dedes have traditionally worked as volunteers, accepting only limited financial support from their congregations, to maintain independence.
Alevi beliefs could also change to match ideas in orthodox Islam. Like Sunni and Shia Muslims, Alevis revere Ali, the son-in -aw of Prophet Muhammad - the word "Alevi" itself comes from "Ali" - but they also see themselves as outside the sphere of any of those traditions.
Last July, Erdogan drew the ire of Alevis when he told supporters that: "If Alevism is about loving Ali, I am an Alevi to the T."
Sunnis, along with many Shia Muslims, regard the level of reverence Alevis give to Ali - which ascribes a divine-like status to him - as heresy.
Alevis do not offer daily prayers like Sunni or Shia Muslims. Alcohol is permitted, and genders are not separated at cemevis. "If you really call yourself Alevi," says Bulut, "there is not really room for it in Islam, as a traditional Muslim". The status of Alevis, Bulut says, has always been politicized.
Under the Ottoman Empire, Alevis in Turkey were considered non-Muslims, at best akin to Christians or Jews, at worse heretics. After 1923, Turkish nationalists under Mustafa Kemal looked to suppress any ethnic or religious diversity.
"The Republic wanted one language, one flag, one religion, so they went around trying to make everyone into a Sunni - a Sunni Hanafi," Bulut said, referring to the school of thought that almost all of Turkey's Sunnis adhere to.
Dedes were rounded up along with Sunni Imams, and beards were forcibly shaved off. In the 1970s, some of Turkey's Alevis joined fellow Kurds to form leftist groups like the PKK. In turn, the Turkish military and right-wing nationalist groups stoked Sunni-Alevi tensions, providing the impetus to impose military rule in 1980.
While the AK party has made headway on making peace with the PKK, Oz, of the Dersim Research Foundation, says it is continuing Ottoman and nationalist legacies of assimilating Alevis, especially since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, where Turkey has openly taken the side of Sunni Arabs.
Last year, for example, when a car bomb in the border city of Reyhanli killed 52 people, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan angered Alevis by referring to the victims as "martyred 53 Sunni citizens of ours".
If the AK Party is interested in reaching out to Alevis, Dogru says, they should focus on providing closure for the 1938 Dersim massacre. The names and destinations of those exiled in 1938, along with the burial sites of many who were killed, are thought to be in still-secret government archives.
"There have been many massacres in Turkish history," said Dogru, "without acknowledging this one and the others, it will be impossible for Turkey to become a real democracy".
Kurds commit to Turkish peace process as PKK leader announces definitive end to '40-year-long armed struggle' with the state
Above the jubilant cheers of the hundreds of thousands of Kurds celebrating the festival of Newroz, Kurdish new year, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abudallah Ocalan yesterday called for a definitive end to the “40-year-long armed struggle” against the Turkish state.
As Mr Ocalan’s statement was read to the huge rally, the sun broke through the clouds and the thudding rain eased: even the weather seemed to recognise a momentous occasion. His emphasis on a democratic solution is seen as a pivotal step in a process that many officials from both sides believe is the single most important issue the country faces.
“I see it as historical and necessary to hold a congress to stop the armed struggle which has been carried on by the PKK against the Turkish Republic for nearly 40 years and to determine political and social strategies and tactics which are suitable for a new period,” he said in a two-page letter read out by deputies of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), first in Kurdish and then in Turkish.
Mr Ocalan called late last month for the PKK leadership to convene an “extraordinary congress in the coming spring months” to make the decision to definitively relinquish the armed fight.
“A new era is set to begin with this congress,” Mr Ocalan reiterated yesterday. “In this new era, within the Republic of Turkey, we’ll enter a phase where we will live in peace, as sisters and brothers, with a democratic identity and as a democratic society.”
Hundreds of Kurdish independence flags fluttered in the strong breeze, carried by young and old alike amid a sea of red, yellow and green – the Kurdish colours – in the muddy park in Diyarbakir, south-east Turkey.
Women, men and children were dressed in traditional olive green Kurdish baggy trousers and shirt associated with the PKK.
Kurdish new-year celebrations have become increasingly political in recent years. In 2013, Mr Ocalan’s first letter written from his cell – a 20-page manifesto – announced the beginning of the peace process.
Despite the ceasefire, tensions have been high and were brought to the fore last autumn as the northern Syrian town of Kobani came under assault by Islamic State (Isis). The sight of Turkish tanks motionless across the border brought protests at what some perceived as Turkey’s tacit support of Isis. Turkey’s alleged refusal to allow Turkish Kurdish fighters to cross the border to fight alongside Syrian brethren – something Ankara has denied – left dozens dead.
The triumph of Syrian YPG and Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces in clearing Isis fighters from Kobani, in coordination with the US-led coalition, has stoked the deep-seated desire for Kurdish independence from Turkey.
While the message delivered little of the eagerly awaited details of the congress framework, Mr Ocalan’s naming Isis as an organisation that “pushed the boundaries of the meaning of barbarism” will not be lost on the anti-Isis coalition.
The PKK have been strong fighters against the terror group, both in Sinjar and in Kobani. Should it make peace with Turkey and be removed from the designated terror list, it may become a far more palatable partner.
The priorities for most people, however, are peace and the release of their leader. “We all want peace of course, and we don’t want to use weapons any more. We won’t give up our demand for freedom but we want peace,” said Sehmus Celik, as he went about his business selling T-shirts imprinted with Mr Ocalan’s face at various ages.
“They like the younger picture,” he said. “He looks stronger in it.”
The 47-year-old travelled nearly 200 miles to sell his wares to the masses descending on the de facto Kurdish capital Diyarbakir for the largest celebration of Newroz.
Barely a toddler when Mr Ocalan was imprisoned, skinny 18-year-old Memet Direkci is keen to lay his hands on a shirt emblazoned with his hero.
“We like our leader so much. We’re here today for our nation and for our struggle,” he said, although he admits his father has stayed at home and is a firm supporter of the ruling AKP party.
While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stoked criticism recently for dismissing the idea of the “Kurdish question”, he said he hoped yesterday’s announcement marked a turning point for the peace process.
“Let it be a cornerstone that truly combines love... not a Newroz like those of the past, when everywhere was burned and destroyed by Molotov cocktails, stones and fireworks,” he said.
The president lashed out at his own government on Friday, stating he did not approve of the formation of a monitoring committee as part of the Kurdish peace process, despite a deal already being reached with the HDP.
And in a rare attack on President Erdogan from within his own party, Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bulent Arınc dismissed the president’s views as emotional and personal.
“His statements that ‘I didn’t like it’ or ‘I don’t approve this and that’ are his emotional remarks. The responsibility belongs to the government and we can regard his statements as his personal views,” said Mr Arınc .
In Cizre, a Kurdish town on the Turkey-Iraq border, the support for peace seemed similarly strong, despite the violence seen earlier this year with seven people – including a 12-year-old boy, allegedly shot by Turkish police in street clashes. Both the police and the government have denied any responsibility for the child’s death.
But the Kurds’ trust in Mr Ocalan seems unshakeable. “We don’t believe in the peace process but we believe in our leader,” said Filiz Olmez, a lawyer and human-rights activist investigating the shootings. “If he says we should stop, we will stop, and when he says go, we will go. We don’t believe in the Turkish state but Ocalan knows what he’s doing and we believe in him.”
Orhan Pamuk walks through his city, photographing its streets at night. He discovers new light and new realities.
ISTANBUL — When did I first notice that the color of streetlamps and interior lights in Istanbul had slowly changed from yellow to white over the past ten years? It has transformed the nighttime landscape of the city I have lived in for 66 years, and yet it is always difficult to recall — as with aging, or with political or climate change — the precise moment in which one first becomes aware of this kind of thing. During my boyhood and youth, white light was something cold that issued from fluorescent lamps. White light filled hospitals, warehouses, factories, waiting rooms and refrigerators. Like wickedness, it was to be avoided. It could grieve and mislead us. When my mother went to the draper’s back in the 1960s and ’70s, she would have the shop boy take her chosen roll of curtain fabric outside to evade the deceptive gleam of fluorescent lamps and see the fabric’s true color in natural light.
One day, as the surreptitious spread of white light and the decline of orange light had been weighing on my mind for some time, I went to the old convenience store around the corner and asked for a 75-watt bulb. I saw the writing on the box the elderly shopkeeper picked out for me. “But this is white!” I said. “Why?”
“It is the only kind anyone buys these days,” said the shopkeeper. “They’re cheaper.”
I grudgingly accepted that very soon the way Istanbul looked at night would be completely transformed. I decided to photograph the neighborhoods and streets of my city while they were still bathed in orange light. I was going to work to preserve the fading image of Istanbul.
In the winter of 2016 I started with the familiar streets of Cihangir, Nisantasi and Sisli — areas on the European side of Istanbul where I had so often walked, and which had brought me such joy over the years. White light proliferated in coffeehouses, department store windows and construction sites.
The more I observed the slow retreat of yellow light, and the way the city streets were acquiring a whole new character, the more photographs I took, animated by anger at all my acquaintances and relatives who seemed altogether indifferent to the issue. My friends, most of them approaching old age and living in relatively wealthy neighborhoods, were not interested in the white light. They remarked that thanks to these photographs they had noticed for the first time the degree to which certain streets and neighborhoods of Istanbul had changed over the past few years.
Some streets had been remolded by the arrival of Arab immigrants from Syria, while other streets bore the signs of a new nationalist fury and hostility toward foreigners and newcomers. And the third aspect of this change was that across the Golden Horn, many neighborhoods had come under the influence of political Islam and fundamentalist sects. It pained and angered me to discover that my friends had failed to notice these social transformations, and that they had become so quickly accustomed and indifferent to them.
In the evenings, I began roaming streets and alleyways I hadn’t visited for years with a missionary zeal. I was better off walking the alleyways rather than spending yet another evening sitting at home, watching the endless stream of lies being propagated on television by the government.
The nightscape of Istanbul always had an enigmatic, beguiling effect on me, reminding me I belonged here. A long, winding, brisk walk always seemed a way of getting closer to the source of that curious energy.
While 30 years ago I might have walked around Istanbul more frequently, I suspect I saw fewer things than I do now.
Between 1974 and 1980, when I was trying to write my first novel, there was a sinister atmosphere hanging over Istanbul: Communist militants and right-wing nationalists ruthlessly and routinely gunned each other down in the streets.
In the late 1980s, when there was a shortage of fuel and energy, and the early 1990s, when the economy was slow, the city was darker at night. Shops did not leave their lights on to advertise their wares, and at home, people switched the lights off when they left a room.
I would write in my office until three or four in the morning, and on the way home I would take a roundabout route, basking in the mysterious poetry of barred windows and crumbling, unplastered oriels lit up by the orange light of streetlamps. On these long walks I would always encounter at least one pack of street dogs growling at anyone who happened to pass by, standing in your way or rifling savagely through rubbish bins. I would run into drunks and boza sellers and shopkeepers closing up for the night.
The provincial Istanbul of my youth, where everyone knew each other, changed radically in after the Justice and Development Party was elected in 2002. The liberal and pro-European politics of early A.K.P. years, and an infusion of new money from the West, gave us a sense of Istanbul transforming into a cosmopolitan megalopolis, where we thought the days of shooting writers and journalists in the streets or throwing them into prisons were over.
But on Jan. 19, 2007, my friend Hrant Dink, a journalist, was killed outside the offices of his newspaper, shot three times in the back of the head for speaking bravely and openly about the Armenian genocide. A few days after his assassination, one of his killers, who had been arrested, said on camera that I was the next target.
I had spoken about the same taboo subjects as my slain friend. I too had lamented a lack of freedom of thought in our country. Some nationalists had filed lawsuits against me, accusing me of insulting Turkishness.
And then, the Turkish government assigned me with some bodyguards. It is partly to my bodyguards that I owe my nighttime street photography expeditions. In the beginning, I was assigned three bodyguards. Going anywhere with the three veritable giants following me was difficult, and a little embarrassing.
In the late 2000s, I was not spending much time in Turkey, and when I did return home, I mostly avoided venturing outside. A few years later the threats began to fade away, and three bodyguards were reduced to one. I got used to walking around with a bodyguard. I would wonder what my bodyguard thought as he followed me through the same orange-hued streets at night. Sometimes, after he’d been following me at a relative distance, I would realize from the sound of his footsteps that he had edged closer, and I would know then that we must be approaching one of the more dangerous parts of the city.
Having a single bodyguard had completely altered my relationship with Istanbul. I would simply slip on a baseball cap, pull the visor low over my face and venture into Istanbul’s most disreputable districts without anybody recognizing or stopping me. Eventually I started taking a digital Leica with me to photograph these mysterious and distant neighborhoods. There was something enormously appealing in the knowledge that I could document the whole city now, for as long as I had my bodyguard with me.
Whenever I would take photographs in neighborhoods of Istanbul that lay beyond the purview of tourists, someone would always interrupt me and ask what there was to photograph in their ordinary, impoverished streets. Mostly they didn’t want me taking pictures at all, or they would demand that I obtain their permission first, as if to acknowledge their authority over those streets.
People came out to tell me I wasn’t allowed to walk into a particular courtyard or step through a particular door. In the evenings when the weather was good, people treated the streets like their own living rooms. I could understand why some of them might want to stop me, feeling uncomfortable with the intimate details of their lives, spilled out onto the streets, being photographed by a stranger.
In those moments my bodyguard would quickly come to my aid, emerging from somewhere in the shadows to show his police badge, and allowing us to beat a quiet and somewhat guilty retreat while the residents recovered from their shock.
Between 2008 and 2014 I was writing a novel about street vendors, set in the city’s poorer neighborhoods, and I spent a lot of time walking around at night and taking photographs in places like Tarlabasi, Kasimpasa and Ferikoy. Looking at these images in my archives now, I am reminded of how little attention I was paying a decade ago to the advance of white light, but how obviously troubled I was by the growing nationalist fury.
Recently, as I walked around the same streets at night with my camera and my bodyguard, I could still detect the signs of a nationalist fervor, but it seemed to me a more subdued, more cautious kind of nationalism. The flags that hung on every street corner for no discernible reason were indicators of a nation turning inward. Previously, nationalist rage had been fueled by anger toward Kurds, Armenians and other minorities.
But now — as I could also gather from what I read in the newspapers — these flags were mostly an expression of a turning away from the West. I could feel this atmosphere of nationalism more clearly in the quieter, conservative neighborhoods, whereas in places like Besiktas and Kartal, which tended to vote overwhelmingly against the government, the same flags appeared to be a way of whispering “we’re here too!” in a city that allowed no other form of political dissent.
Friends who saw my photographs were concerned about the increase in the number of people walking around in skullcaps and turbans and other traditional religious garb in conservative neighborhoods like Aksaray, Fatih and Carsamba. As recently as 30 or even 20 years ago, they told me, the police would have arrested someone walking around in Istanbul in those clothes for being in breach of the laws mandating the adoption of secular, European dress.
But I delighted in photographing all of this humanity just as it was. The greatest pleasure of all was looking into people’s faces as I passed them on the street! I loved the world of mothers and fathers carrying their children in their arms as they hurried back home, of young men and women strolling arm in arm, of weary old men and women trailing behind, quiet and meek.
I loved the surprise of walking through the utter silence of a totally empty street and emerging at the other end to find a crowded, vibrant square with tables laid out and families sitting and talking. And it could be just as wonderful to go from a street teeming with families and children playing football to the white and freezing street where I would find myself walking alone with no sound other than that of my own footsteps and those of the bodyguard behind me.
Walking down the half-lit orange streets with the bodyguard following behind set my imagination in motion, and I kept finding new reasons to go out and capture the landscape of Istanbul at night.
Orhan Pamuk, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006, is the author of many books, including the forthcoming “Orange,” from which this essay is adapted. It was translated by Ekin Oklap from the Turkish.