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October 1998 
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There is tremendous repression, oppression, militarism and torture in Turkey these days. All very much encouraged (regardless of what is said in public) by both the U.S. and Israel with their new "Ankara Pact" -- the importance of which we have focused upon previously. The Arabs are so weak, and Turkey is getting so strong now that the Americans and Israelis are working so closely with the Generals, that the militarist Turks feel they can start pushing everyone around. A clash with Syria still might come regardless of all the Arab "diplomacy". And at home there is still growing repression to prevent people from expressing themselves in the most basic ways. Journalists are arrested and beaten for publishing articles about what is really going on Students are fearful to speak up in any way. And even Muslim women are being increasingly harassed and punished -- government jobs and even school registration now prohibited to those who choose to wear a simple headscarf. On Sunday in Washington at the White House a small group of 50 or 60 Muslims, organized in the usual haphazard Muslim Student Association (MSA) way, marched outside the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue to protest Turkish repression. They then held prayers and had a few interesting speakers in Lafayette Park. MER-TV was there and will put some of the speakers on our weekly cable TV next month. As MER editorialized earlier this year, what's going on in today's Middle East is nothing less than the "return of the Ottomans", The following two short articles are from the AP a few days ago. Things can be expected to get worse, probably much worse, in the months to come.


ANKARA, Turkey (AP - 10/11 - By Selcan Hacaoglu) -- Turkey's prime minister said Sunday his country had a duty to "poke out the eyes" of Syria if it doesn't stop harboring Kurdish rebels.

Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz's harsh words, reported by the Anatolia news agency, raised the stakes in Turkey's face-off with its neighbor.

Ankara accuses Syria of harboring Kurdish rebels who are fighting for autonomy within Turkey. It has demanded Damascus to end its support to the rebels and extradite their leaders. Syria denies the claims.

There were unconfirmed reports of a Turkish troop buildup along the Syrian border. Both Iran and Egypt are trying to mediate an end to the crisis.

Yilmaz was quoted by Anatolia as saying that "if Syria does not come to its senses, it is our incumbent duty to bring the world down on them .. It is our incumbent duty to poke out the eyes of those who have eyes on our territory."

Yilmaz spoke in southern Kahramanmaras province to a crowd that replied with cries of "Down with Syria!" Anatolia reported.

Also on Sunday, State Minister Metin Gurdere said Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan had left Damascus for Armenia. "Armenia should also watch its step," Anatolia quoted him as saying.

Turkey and Armenia do not have diplomatic relations. Armenia accuses Turkey of the genocide of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. Turkey denies committing genocide and says the deaths were caused by civil war.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa will leave for Turkey on Monday in the latest bid by Egypt to calm the mounting crisis. He also plans a trip to Syria.

Moussa is expected to relay messages between Syrian President Hafez Assad and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, Egypt's news media reported Sunday.




ANKARA, Turkey (AP - 10/11 - By Selcan Hacaoglu) -- Thousands of Muslims demonstrators joined hands and marched Sunday throughout Turkey to protest a ban on Islamic-style head scarves in schools and public offices. Police shot and killed one person in an argument over a traffic jam caused by the protests.

The Anatolia news agency said the shooting took place in the eastern city of Elazig, when a group of soccer fans on their way to a match got stuck in a traffic jam caused by the demonstration. It said police opened fire, killing a 25-year-old soccer fan and wounding two others.

The marches in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and at least eight smaller towns and cities were the largest demonstration against the ban since universities last month refused to register women who failed to submit ID photographs with bare heads.

Protesters, mostly women in scarves or black Islamic chadors, carried banners reading "We Want Our Right To Education Back," and "Respect Belief, Free Thought."

Since chanting anti-secular slogans in Istanbul is illegal, demonstrators there clapped or blew on whistles instead.

The government had declared the nationwide protest illegal and Deputy Premier Bulent Ecevit told NTV television it was an "uprising" by people hiding behind young girls. Several hundred people were reported detained nationwide for taking part in the demonstrations.

The ban on head scarves is enforced at the urging of the military, the guardian of Turkey's secular regime. The military regards scarves as a political statement and radical Islam as a threat to Turkey's secular system.



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