- Nov 25, 2008
- Reaction score
- British Turk
- Political Leaning
Is Greece any better than Turkey? - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic ReviewNothing really changes when Turks and Greeks say to each other, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” while they disregard the “planks” in their own eyes.
Whenever I write something that criticizes a particular country, for problems on sensitive issues such as religious freedom, I always get the same reaction: The supporters of that country send me irritated messages asking, “Why don’t you look at the problems on the other side?”
That happened again after my latest piece for these pages, “De-crucifying Turkey’s Christians.” There, I criticized Turkey for not respecting the rights of its Greek Orthodox citizens enough. In response, I got several emails asking me why I did not address the troubles of the Turkish community in Greece. Particularly, a Turk living in the United States sent me a long letter – a kind one, I should note – listing various misdeeds of the Greek government.
No mosque in the city
Let me share with you some of those points. First, there is the shameful fact that Athens is the only European capital without a mosque, although Greece is the home of more than 700,000 Muslims. (There were dozens of mosques there during the Ottoman period, but all were either destroyed or converted into churches in the 19th century.)
In that regard, Turkey seems freer than Greece. We have many churches (and synagogues) in Istanbul and elsewhere in the country. And although we have lunatics who would like to see these non-Muslim sanctuaries closed down, they are holding services freely.
Yet other problems in Greece that my U.S.-based Turkish reader listed carefully looked very familiar to me. To be more precise, they sounded very similar to Turkey’s longtime policies toward its own Kurdish population.
Greece, to begin with, simply calls its Turks “Muslims,” denying the fact that they are not just religiously but also ethnically different from the majority. That’s why a 2001 decision by a Greek court disallowed the founding of the “Cultural Association of Turkish Women of the Region of Rodopi.” The court argued that the term “Turkish women” could “mislead the public regarding the origin of its members.”
My U.S.-based Turkish reader summed up what this court decision, and similar ones, amounted to: “Greece restricts the use of the words ‘Turkish’ and ‘minority’ in the naming of organizations, thus impairing the cultural identity of the Turkish minority.”
Well, just replace the words “Greece” and “Turks” in the sentence above with “Turkey” and “Kurds” and you will see that they fit perfectly.
My Turkish reader was also telling me how Greece hinders the political rights of the Turkish minority. The government “appointed muftis as opposed to permitting their popular election,” and a “3 percent election hurdle has been erected for independent Turkish minority candidates to force them to join Greek political parties.”
Again, it sounds very familiar. Over the years, our state has done everything to minimize the democratic self-representation of our Kurdish populace. As everybody knows, one reason for our 10 percent electoral threshold is to keep the pro-Kurdish parties out of the parliament.
The problems in Greece are abundant, and a Human Rights Watch report summarizes them by noting, “Turks suffer a host of human rights violations.” It also adds, “The Greek state has for the most part been unable to accept the fact that one can be a loyal Greek citizen and, at the same time, an ethnic Turk proud of his or her culture and religion.”
Again, replace the words “Greek” and “Turk” here with “Turkey” and “Kurd” and you will get a perfect match.
Both sides of the Aegean, it seems, are haunted by similar fears, and drawn into similarly bad solutions.
Read the rest of it here.
It really does just go way over your head, doesn't it? How Greece got into the EU, that is. Clearly the xenophobic elite in the EU have successfully ridden the waves on this issue (not to mention the horrific state of the Greek economy when compared to Turkey, who is set to become an economic power in just over a decade).
The xenophobes have successfully pointed out the flaws in Turkey's past and forever advancing Democracy, but have they heeded enough attention towards Greece? Or are they so blinded by the propagandists of the Greek orthodox church that they forgot to check Greece's own minority problem? If you believe Cyprus was an "invasion", you may want to look at Greece, and the Cyprus issue, with a second glance.