Saturday, March 3, 2012

This Week in Turkey: Wrapping up week of 2-27-12

Well, I never did get around to last week's wrap-up. What can I say, work has kept me very, very busy...

There were some big things that happened in Turkey this week but oddly, I don't think they got all that much coverage, at least from what I saw (and keep in mind, I'm only looking at the English-language newspapers here). For example, on Thursday afternoon, a remote-controlled bomb mounted on a motorcycle went off near the headquarters of the ruling party as a police bus was passing, injuring 15 soldiers and a civilian. But I haven't heard anything about it since Thursday -- if some group has claimed responsibility, I haven't seen it.

Likewise, the highly controversial French law that Turkish journalists and politicians have ranted about endlessly was struck down by the French Constitutional Council on Tuesday. The law, passed last month, said that any French national in France denying any events deemed a genocide can be fined 45,000 euros and sentenced to up to a year in jail -- and France had already passed a law deeming the deaths of Armenians in 1915 in eastern Turkey genocide. You'd think Turkey would throw a parade over the striking down of this law but again, barely a peep. Is it because Nicolas Sarkozy says he's going to revise and submit a new bill? The French bill was a big deal here because what happened in 1915 is HIGHLY controversial. Supporters of the argument for genocide say the Ottoman Empire made a deliberate decision to kill the Armenian population and then send whoever remained on a death march to nowhere in a push for nationalism in its final days; most Turks fervently believe that the Turks and Armenians were fighting each other in the east as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and the deaths (on both sides) were part of the "normal" course of war and battle. Most Turks saw the French bill as a direct accusation, an affront to Turkey and Turkishness.

Tuesday was also the 15th anniversary of the Feb. 28, 1997, "postmodern coup," in which the country's first Islamic prime minister and his partners were forced by the army to resign, which kept Islamists out of the government until the current ruling party came to power in 2001. On Tuesday, there were protests and people made speeches about how it should never happen again, but not much else really happened, from what I heard.

On Thursday, Turkey revealed a symbol (like $) for its currency, the lira, and the prime minster associated the reveal with Turkey's growing financial status. (The country hopes to be one of the world's top 10 economies by 2023.) The Central Bank released an app you can install on your computer so you can use the sign -- Cagatay took a closer look at it and apparently the designer didn't do a good job and the lines are wavy and one of the corners is funky. (I thought those of you who are design-minded might appreciate this.) A Financial Times blog says the new lira sign looks "a little like a pound symbol superimposed on a letter ‘t’." I've also heard people say it looks like the dollar sign, the Euro symbol, the Armenian dram symbol upside down and, best of all, like the letters T and E combined -- which also happen to be the initials of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. The new symbol is up at the top of this post -- what do you think?

Last but not least, it snowed again this week -- THREE times, including today. The worst part is, everyone thought spring had finally come because it had gotten damp and the feeling in the air had changed. But no... Our neighborhood cat didn't get the memo, apparently, as she's just given birth to her kittens. I'm guessing they're only a few days old, as I've just started to hear them squeaking, out in the garden under the ivy covering the wall -- I haven't seen them yet, as my suspicions were only confirmed this afternoon, but last time, in late spring, she had eight kittens. So hopefully there will be less this go around...  Pin It

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