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Autoritarisme. 'Kızlı- Erkekli' evlerin denetimi için genelge hazırlanıyor. A Turkish Spring? AKP'li vekilden öğrenci evi açıklaması: Karma eğitime de karşıyım. Akyol. Last Thursday, a historic session took place in the Turkish parliament.

Akyol

The extraordinary thing was that four female deputies from the governing AKP (Justice and Development Party) walked into the general assembly with their hair covered with the Islamic scarf. And I, like many others, applauded this as one of the signs of the advance of freedom in the Republic of Turkey. Akyol. With the latest controversy he created in Turkey, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan took the debate on his much-discussed authoritarianism to a whole new level.

By announcing his government will not allow student houses where “boys and girls mingle,” he unveiled his willingness to intrude in individuals’ private lives to impose his “moral conservatism.” Needless to say, such “morality policing” is unacceptable in any free society. Needless to say, this is in fact an attack on the “personal freedoms” that Erdoğan’s party has been praising for a decade, especially when it came to the right to wear the Islamic headscarf. But how and why Erdoğan can take such an authoritarian step, while he still champions “democracy” in almost every instance? The simple answer is Erdoğan only believes in “electoral democracy,” where political power is held by those who win the elections. Akyol: Arab spring? Alevis. Thousands of Alevis, who follow a liberal sect of Islam, voice demands for rights and recognition at a massive rally in Istanbul’s Kadıköy Kadıköy Square on Istanbul’s Anatolian side fills with Alevis voicing demands for rights for their community.

AA Photo Thousands of Alevis gathered in a massive rally in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district on Nov. 3, demanding equal citizenship rights and freedom of faith, while also raising their voice against projects aiming to “assimilate Alevis.” Democracy Package. At long last, the democracy package has arrived, the nation breathlessly examining it in its crib and arguing about whether it resembles the AKP or whether, as the prime minister claims, it was engendered by “international human rights, the European Union acquis and the works of the Wise People” (a group of public figures nominated to advise the peace process between AKP and the PKK).

Democracy Package

Whatever the parentage, the package, which will take form through legal amendments or even simply administrative adjustments, offers some important changes. The much-criticized 10 percent threshold for elected parties to be allowed to enter parliament (put in place after 1980 in order to counter the tendency toward fractured coalitions of small parties) will be lowered in some manner.

Femmes. Forums. The Gezi Park protests have led to the emergence of local grassroots committees or "Open Forums" in many Turkish towns and cities.

Forums

Their goal: To preserve quality of life in residential areas and foster political dialogue and development. A commentary by Ceyda Nurtsch from the "Open Forum" in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Beyoğlu Cihangir Park is at the end of one of the radially-arranged, climbing alleyways in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Beyoğlu: It's a small area of green parkland with two wooden pavilions and climbing frames for children behind, and a basketball court to the left. The park is a little oasis, bordered by a close concentration of five-storey houses. It's a balmy summer evening. Fronts durcis. Kadınlar, öğrenci evleri için Galatasaray'da eylem yaptı. Kamil Pasha» Daring to Hope. KP_Headscarves_Parliament.

KP_voile uni. Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya, citing the Turkish constitution and the European Court of Human Rights, announced that the recent actions of the Higher Education Board (YÖK) to allow headscarves on campus contradicted both national and international law.

KP_voile uni

“Recognizing the validity of [wearing] the headscarf at higher education institutions on the basis of religious belief constitutes a violation of the principle of secularism as regulations within public law cannot be based on religious principles.” He also classified statements made by political parties in favor of lifting the headscarf ban as a “violation of the state’s basic principles of the rule of law, secularism and equality.”

Mixité. NY Times. Adem Altan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Nurcan Dalbudak, center, was greeted by her fellow lawmakers on Thursday, when a ban on wearing Islamic head scarves in the Parliament was lifted.

NY Times

Three other women also wore scarves. But today there is a different Turkey, reshaped over a decade of governing by the Justice and Development Party, which has its roots in political Islam, and so when four of the party’s female members entered the Assembly on Thursday wearing head scarves they were largely accepted, even as it represented, for some, an unwelcome break with Turkey’s secular traditions. For many others, inclined to see the issue as one of personal freedoms, it was an important marker of Turkey’s maturing democracy. After the session, Mevlut Cavusoglu, a senior lawmaker in the governing party, sat in a garden outside Parliament and said, simply, “This is democracy.” The Filth in Erdogan's Closet. Turkey's paradigm shift. "Yurtta sulh, cihanda sulh" – "Peace at home, peace in the world".

Turkey's paradigm shift

This is one of the best-known quotes from Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), the pro-Western, secular founder of modern Turkey. Initially, it seems contradictory that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), the sole governing party since 2002, has now adopted this equivocal maxim. Indisputably, Turkey has flourished under the AKP government, becoming one of the world's most dynamic economies, and has also experienced a push on reform and democratisation that prompted the beginning of accession negotiations with the European Union (EU). Simultaneously, however, recent years have seen an intentional strengthening of Sunni identity and morals and increasingly authoritarian governance under Prime Minister Erdogan, which has led – aside from the events around Gezi Park – to worrying restrictions on freedom of opinion and the press.

Turkish spring. We had not meant to find ourselves in the midst of the Istanbul demonstrations, or thinking about tear gas.

Turkish spring

It just kind of happened. I had come Turkey to lead two educational tours focused on the historical and spiritual dimensions of Turkey, when we found ourselves in the very midst of the Gezi Park and Taksim Square demonstrations. So I did what every responsible tour leader would do: I told my group to stay far away from Taksim if they are not comfortable with demonstrations, tear gas, and police riot. I gave them lots of alternate activities to do. Then I headed straight for Taksim, taking three brave souls along for the ride.