Sunday, July 29, 2007

“Even worse than Armenian militants!”

Türker Alkan who writes for the newspaper Radikal is upset with İbrahim Solmaz, an ex-general director of the İmam-Hatip Mezunları ve Mensupları Derneği (alumni association of the vocational high schools which raises imams) (June 5), reason being that during the alumni day event at the Antalya İmam-Hatip Lisesi, Solmaz made a speech where he said that drug abuse and moral collapse are rife in normal schools, whereas one does not see this sort of thing in the İHLs. In his criticism of Solmaz, Türker Alkan rightly reasons that such words only worsen the polarisation in society and that being defamatory of a certain fraction can have grave consequences.*
Be that as it may, the heading reads, “Even worse than Armenian militants!”
Alkan says, “I find the director’s characterisation of a great part of the Turkish people as prostitutes and junkies offensive. I cannot understand why a person would feel such enmity toward their own nation. Even Armenian militants had not gone that far.”
For whatever peculiar reason, the same Alkan who touches on worsening the polarisation in society and defamation of a certain fraction bringing grave consequences, sees no wrong in using a description such as “Armenian militants.”
Does writer and academician Türker Alkan not know what purpose his comparison serves, that discrimination and racism find their body through such stereotyping, and that inserting such references as “Armenian/Turkish/Kurdish militant” constitute hate speech? Unfortunately this is the basic reality of Turkish politics: When elephants grapple, the grass gets trampled.

In his column, Alkan quotes Solmaz as saying, “Prostitution and drug abuse are rife in all schools except for the IHL,” and then proceeds to use variants of these words, such as “prostitute” and “junkie.” Solmaz’ words on the IHL Alumni Association are as such: “Unfortunately, drug abuse and moral collapse rise at an increasing rate in other schools, whereas in IHLs, such incidents are at negligibly low levels.” It is possible that Alkan’s wording is based on certain websites and newspapers which distorted the statements in question.

Translated by Filiz Toprak
June 8, 2007

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