Pious Turks Push for Labor Justice

11 May

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/world/middleeast/pious-turks-push-for-labor-justice.html?pagewanted=1&ref=world

Turkish kids think new Turkish capitalists (and the AKP) aren’t morally Muslim enough.

Turkish demonstrators at a May Day rally at Taksim Square in central Istanbul, Turkey, on May 1, 2012. (European Pressphoto Agency)

“Now that there are many rich Muslims, they have begun to regard themselves as a separate class,” Mr. Icoz said. “They live in their new suburbs, far away from the poor, to comply with the admonition of the Prophet against ‘sleeping sated while one’s neighbor goes hungry.’ That’s how low they have dragged Islam.

“They think it is enough to perform the rituals of Islam, like praying, fasting, the Hajj,” he added. “They exploit the workers and then go to prayers. They give no thought to the spiritual, moral side of Islam.”

If even twenty years ago you had told me that any prosperous Turkish middle class would be described in these terms I wouldn’t have known what country you were talking about.  Praying…fasting…the Hajj…huh?  Who?

Nor would I have imagined much of the below.  Whatever their government and political factions, their military or the wild wolves of the Altai mountains might be up to, average Turks continue to exceed my expectations at an almost dizzying rate:

In their march, the youths brandished placards demanding an end to nuclear energy, a right to conscientious objection, a lifting of the head scarf ban and more rights for Kurds and Armenians.

“All Property Belongs to God,” proclaimed one sign; “All Oppressed Are Equal,” said another. A large banner read “Freedom From Slavery” in Kurdish, Armenian and Arabic as well as in Turkish. Some of the female marchers wore head scarves, while others went bareheaded. An impromptu manifesto read out at the rally included quotations from the Bible and the Torah as well as the Koran.

“They are very open and inclusive,” Ihsan Eliacik, a theologian whose writings have influenced the students, said in a telephone interview last week.

“They are also very courageous,” he added, alluding to the fate of former Turkish youth activists such as the iconic Deniz Gezmis, who was hanged at the age of 25 exactly 40 years ago this week, or Erdal Eren, executed at age 16 along with other young activists after the 1980 coup.

Deniz Gezmis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deniz_Gezmi%C5%9F

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Turkish_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

http://tr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erdal_Eren  “One notable victim of the hangings was a 17-year-old Erdal Eren, who said he looked forward to it in order to avoid thinking of the torture he had witnessed.”

 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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