Coronavirus
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate said on March 13 that instead of attending weekly collective mosque prayers on Fridays, Muslims in the high risk group can pray at home amid coronavirus concerns. Underscoring that Friday prayers were a must for every obliged person, the statement said that various justifications could excuse a person from the congregation, including danger to life, property or health.
Turkey has slammed The New York Times and CNN International for using pictures taken in Istanbul in their reports on new U.S. travel restrictions over coronavirus. "It is disturbing to see that following the U.S. announcement to suspend travel to the United States from Schengen Countries, The New York Times and CNN used photos from Istanbul in their coverage in total contradiction with principles of professional and objective journalism," Ambassador Kılıç said.
Turkey's Health Ministry has appointed a National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE) to conduct health screenings on the thousands of migrants at the Greek border. UMKE employees have begun to disinfect the encampment and check the temperatures of migrants with electronic and thermal devices.
Students have flocked to bus terminals after Turkey shut schools and universities over coronavirus despite calls to avoid public spaces and crowds. Pictures from bus terminals showed students lined up in front of ticket windows, prompting criticism on social media. Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın on March 13 said that the government's decision to suspend schools was adopted to decrease crowded environments.
A member of the Turkish Health Ministry's Corona Science committee said that the panic over the coronavirus pandemic was 'unfounded'. More than 80 percent of patients have mild symptoms, Özlü noted, adding that the majority of the remaining 20 percent also fully recover after hospitalization.
An Afghan migrant was taken to hospital after getting stabbed over coronavirus on March 13. "Did you bring coronavirus here?" said the assailant who then stabbed the Afghan national.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has resulted in a sharp drop in the number of tourists traveling to Turkey, affecting Grand Bazaar shopkeepers. Yet for some, the most pressing concern is the lack of precaution being taken to curb the pandemic.
A second patient has been diagnosed with coronavirus in Turkey, the country's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on March 13. Turkey’s first case was announced earlier this week, a man who had recently returned from Europe. Another statement was released by Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, who said that the second patient is also “under control.”
Teyit, an independent fact-checking organization, has debunked a news report claiming that a man in Turkey's Yozgat province has been hospitalized after consuming liquid soap in an attempt to "protect himself against coronavirus." Health officials have told Teyit that no such patient had ever visited the Yozgat City Hospital.
Turkey has expanded the criteria for who can be tested for the novel coronavirus after the first confirmed case in the country early on March 11. As of now, not only those who recently traveled to countries with “high risk,” but anyone who has been abroad within the last 14 days will be tested, as long as they show symptoms of infection, said a member of the Health Ministry's Coronavirus Scientific Committee.
Turkey on March 12 announced a series of new measures against the coronavirus threat. Primary and secondary schools will be closed for one week and universities for three weeks from March 16, whereas sports events will be played without spectators until the end of April, Presidential Spokesperson Kalın announced. President Erdoğan has also postponed his foreign visits, Kalın said.
Widely-known Turkish surgeon Mehmet Öz released a "coronavirus survival protocol" on March 8 in which he suggested lifestyle changes and supplemental immune support measures in addition to more common hygiene practices. In what came as a surprise to many, Öz suggested meditation as a means of protection from contracting coronavirus as it may improve the immune system.
Turkish teachers' union Eğitim-Sen has said in a statement that the Education Ministry's recent move to start disinfecting school buildings was not a "sufficient" step and urged the government to suspend education across the country due to the coronavirus threat.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has urged people to resist for two months, since summer will weaken coronavirus (COVID-19). "This disease is more of a winter infection. If we adopt measures and prevent it from spreading, it's highly likely that life will return to normal in two months," he added.
Following Turkey's Minister Fahrettin Koca's announcement of Turkey's first confirmed coronavirus case, consumers in Turkey have flocked to markets to purchase certain consumer goods, ignoring calls from health experts to not succumb to panic. Wet wipes, latex gloves, lemon-scented cologne and pasta are rapidly disappearing from shelves.
Editor's Pick
duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki are joined by Robert Bosch Academy's Galip Dalay to discuss the impact of Turkish government's recent domestic policy moves on Ankara's international relations. They look for answers to whether there is any possibility that Turkey's relations with the West might change for the better any time soon.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
Politics
A prominent health expert has said that about 3,000 people are believed to have been infected with the COVID-19 virus during the prayers held at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia on July 24. "There were about 1,000 asymptotic patients there, based on forecasts. If we think of the transmission rate, those patients have infected 2,000-3,000 others. I believe that gathering will increase the cases in Istanbul,” Assoc. Pro. Dr. Üner said on Aug. 8.
Turkey's parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop, from the ruling AKP, has said that there is no need for Turkey to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women. Şentop's comments came as the AKP is considering whether to pull Turkey out of the convention, alarming campaigners who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.
Turkey's Arab Alawite community has celebrated the Gadir Hum holiday amid concerns of rising cases of coronavirus in Turkey. Mehmet Ali Dönmez, who organized Gadir Hum festivities in the Samandağ district of Hatay, which is prominently Arab Alawite, said that the celebration of the festival is in defiance of cultural assimilation.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has voiced support to Finance Minister Berat Albayrak amid the country's worsening economy. Several AKP officials, including Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, defended Albayrak on Twitter via using the hashtag "We stand with Berat Albayrak."
Amnesty International has called on the Turkish government to "fully implement" the Istanbul Convention rather withdraw from it. The prominent organization said that Turkey's withdrawal from the convention would have "disastrous consequences" for millions of women and girls in the country.
Rights organizations will take the case of Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal -- who have been on a hunger strike since April 5 to support their demand for a fair trial -- to the Constitutional Court. The move comes after an Istanbul court in July denied the release of Timtik and Ünsal, despite a medical report that says it is not “suitable” for the two lawyers to remain in jail.
Some 64 percent of Turkish people are of the belief that it is not safe to allow schools to reopen on Aug. 31 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a recent survey conducted by Metropoll. The survey also looked at how supporters of different political parties view this issue, finding that 53 percent of AKP voters do not support the government's planned move.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the country's economy is on the fast lane, downplaying Turkish Lira's sharp fall against dollar and euro. "No one should try to deceive the public. We're stronger than yesterday," he said. While experts voice concern on the situation, Erdoğan claimed that the "zigzags" in the economy can be seen around the world following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Two people were detained for shooting the car of a restaurant owner over late takeaway delivery in the southern province of Adana on Aug. 6. E.K. and his friend Ö.T. opened fire on the restaurant owner with a pump rifle and blank cartridge following an argument.
The Turkish Interior Ministry on Aug. 7 announced that coronavirus quarantines are currently underway in 83 residential areas in 32 provinces. The areas are home to some 54,053 people. The ministry's comments came as the country's daily COVID-19 cases have recently shown a sharp rebounding trend, with more than 1,000 daily jump in successive days.
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) has protested a factory run by the tuna fish company Dardanel in the province of Çanakkale after it imposed a closed-circuit working system on some of its employees after they contracted coronavirus. The workers have been forced to stay in quarantine dormitories since July 26.
Congolese opposition politician Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko has disappeared in Ankara after flying to the Turkish capital for health treatment in late July. He boarded a plane belonging to Qatar and landed at Ankara's Esenboğa airport on July 30, and has not been heard from since.
Employees of Turkish Airlines (THY) have been facing an uncertain future due to the salary crisis that has been ongoing for five months in the company. According to Sözcü, talks between the THY and Hava-İş, the Turkish union representing a large number of workers in the civil aviation sector, have failed to reach a conclusion.
Turkish steeplechaser Gülcan Mıngır has been banned for two years after a re-test of her samples from the London Olympics in 2012 revealed the presence of a prohibited substance, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Aug. 6. The 31-year-old's ban has been backdated to Feb 3, 2020.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Aug. 6 that return of Germans from holiday destinations such as Western Balkan countries and Turkey is increasingly contributing to the rise in new coronavirus cases. Spahn also said that everyone arriving from high-risk areas will be tested for the disease unless they can produce a negative test certificate no more than two days old.
Former MHP deputy Cemal Enginyurt has said it was him who started the legal process that led to the cancellation of a dissident-led congress back in 2016 aiming to challenge the leadership of Devlet Bahçeli. “When Meral Akşener won the congress with 715 votes on June 19, it was me who took the case to the court. It was me that led to the cancellation of the congress, which they had won," Enginyurt said on Aug. 5.
Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener has said that the majority of the Turkish people want to return to a parliamentary system, adding that the current "freakish" system can't govern the country. "Turkey's economy has worsened, the youth doesn't have hope to find jobs, agriculture and industry have collapsed. The people are suffering from not being able to find food and fear being unemployed," she said.
Twitter has announced that it is introducing a new label for government officials and state-backed media organisations to help users make informed decisions. The labels will initially be added to officials representing the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Russia, China, France, the UK, and the US, the company said.
Turkish women did four times as much household and care work as men during lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), research supported by the United Nations Development Programme showed on Aug. 6. The gender gap in paid work narrowed under lockdown as a result of changes in work patterns and a fall in men's paid work hours, the research found.
Economy
The Turkish Lira has devalued drastically against the dollar, reaching almost seven liras on the dollar. Ankara has invested almost $60 billion in currency interventions in 2020 to no avail, Financial Times reported on July 28.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 15 that companies involved in construction of the TurkStream pipeline will be subject to the U.S. penalties unless they stop their works. “It’s a clear warning to companies. Aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated. Get out now or risk the consequences,” he said.
The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (TÜPRAŞ) ranked as Turkey's largest industrial business with 87.9 billion liras in annual production revenue. The oil company was followed mostly by automotive producers.
On the second anniversary of Turkey's transformation into a presidential system, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has prepared a report detailing how the country stands in the ensuing years, finding that the Turkish lira has lost four times its value since 2007.
Urban Beat
Mois Gabay writes: Do you think the Camondo family will be included in the Beyoğlu Culture Road project conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism? What about Arif Ergin’s “Tekvin” novel, in which he imagined that there would be a “Camondo Museum” one day?
Artifacts from Istanbul's ancient Hagia Sophia will be displayed in a nearby public building that will be transformed into a museum. Formerly used as a land office, the late-19th-century building in historical Sultanahmet will be converted on the president's orders.
Luke Frostick writes: Edanur Kuntman’s Tales from Behind the Window has been nominated for an Eisner Award. If she wins, she will be the first Turk to win an Eisner. The story is a piece of creative-nonfiction and its main narrative is drawn from the memories of Kuntman’s grandmother growing up in the Çarşamba district of Samsun.