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Daughter of Izmir

I thought of Filiz today. An item on the ‘net from Turkey made me sad and worried for her.

I’d met Filiz briefly a few years ago on a visit to the ancient Greek city of Priene. She was earnest, smartly dressed and wore her long, brown hair in a ponytail. She was also tall for a woman and athletic-looking, with a winning smile beaming from her almost pretty face. Most importantly, she was a complete delight to meet and spend some archaeo-geek time with.

A 20-something graduate student, wrapping up her thesis and excitedly looking forward to a bright career, Filiz was also one of the many Turks who has helped me to understand her country and appreciate it so much over the years.

Turkish Flag and Atatürk

This young woman loved Turkey and was very hopeful about its bright future. As my wife and I walked with Filiz around the city ruins and later sat together at lunch, her pride poured out animatedly. A person might be forgiven if they thought Filiz was Italian, the way she added emphasis and description with her hands as she spoke.

We were waiting for our meal to arrive when we asked her how it was to be a young professional woman in Turkey. Filiz’ face lit up as she replied. “It’s good, quite good. There are some old people around who don’t like it, but things are always getting better. Did you know that women in Turkey could vote 20 years before French women?”

Another thing came out loud and clear as we talked: she was her father’s joy. During lunch, she happily related how her dad had helped her with her homework as a girl in Izmir, telling her to “show up those stupid boys!” And how he called her every two weeks when she was away at university, just to tell her he was proud of her.

Then, Filiz went on to say that women in Turkey owed everything to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey. And men like her own father, of course. Then her eyes quickly filled with tears of deep emotion and she had to pause a time or two as she told us of Atatürk. My wife and I were so moved that we both spontaneously reached out, each of us gently putting a hand on one of Filiz’ as this daughter of Izmir struggled not to cry.

It was a powerful moment, and one that helped cement the positive opinion we were forming about the Turks as a people.

Then there was today’s news item:

According to statistics published by the Turkish Justice Ministry, from 2002 to 2009, the number of women killed in pre-meditated murders has risen 14-fold there.

Fourteen hundred percent in seven years!

AKP Banner

This is no accident. It parallels the rise to power of  Turkey’s deeply Islamist AKP party. They came in on an economic platform that opposed rampant corruption, soft-pedaling their theocratic intent. It worked. The party that Atatürk founded had controlled things for a long time, kind of like the PRI in Mexico. It was corrupt. And the AKP has made changes so that government does a lot less to gum up the Turkish economy.

But… after consolidating power, the AKP also purged the Turkish military of secular generals. And, since then, the party has relentlessly moved the country toward Sharia Law.

Their main tactic has been to circumvent parliament. The AKP government simply doesn’t enforce any part of Turkish law that runs counter to Sharia. Parliament fumes at this but can do nothing. And the military, formerly the main bulwark against non-secular forces, has been theologically cleansed.

You see, independent women with a free vote are anathema to Islamists. So, now, the AKP government wants women cowed and intimidated. The AKP minions won’t investigate and prosecute the murder of a wife by her husband or a daughter or sister by her family unless forced to. You know, those Muslim Honor Killings that even women in the western media deny exist and suppress news of?

Some less circumspect AKP functionaries even frankly quote the Quran as their basis: it directs men to beat disobedient women (Sura 4:34). Then the AKPers ask, rhetorically, how can these things be of serious concern to a good, pious Muslim anyway?

Actual Turkish law of course makes it a crime to beat anyone.

Fourteen hundred percent!

In seven years!

Turkeyis lost. I just hope Filiz and her father find a way to somehow keep her safe.

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  1. November 28, 2011 at 7:41 am

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