coronavirus outbreak
A shopkeeper in Istanbul's historic Grand Bazaar was reportedly the first person to be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in Turkey. A video on social media showed two healthcare workers in medical gears talking to two shopkeepers. "You know, the first case is from here and it has been increasing. It was here, in your bazaar," one of the healthcare workers says in the video.
AKP Istanbul deputy Ahmet Hamdi Çamlı has advised people under self-imposed quarantine to "reproduce," referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's repeated suggestion of having at least three children. "Our President has been reminding and encouraging the people to have three children regarding the population issue that's inclining towards decreasing. Corona, that seems to be a malice, will contribute to prosperity and goodness," Çamlı tweeted on March 17.
Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said that to act in a way that would damage public health is a crime according to Turkish Penal Code, a day after dozens of pilgrims in the Central Anatolian province of Konya attempted to escape from coronavirus quarantine.
Jailed journalist Nedim Türfent has said that there are no precautions against coronavirus in prisons. "The prison canteen sells a mask for 17 Turkish Liras, which is very expensive," Türfent told his family in a phone call on March 15, Mesopotamia Agency reported. "No special precautions were taken for the inmates who are in high risk groups and who have chronic illnesses. Tens of thousands of inmates are sleeping on the floor in prisons," he added.
Prof. Alpay Azap, a member of Turkish Health Ministry's Science Council, has said that the number of coronavirus cases in Turkey can reach 30,000 if people are not careful enough. "We expect the number of cases to reach nearly 5,000 in the next three to four weeks if precautions are adopted. If not, then the number can reach 30,000," Prof. Alpay Azap told broadcaster Habertürk, adding that people need to act in accordance with the warnings.
Nine AKP and two CHP lawmakers are in self-imposed quarantine and are under close surveillance of Parliament Speaker's Office, sources told Duvar, adding that the office called the parties to ask lawmakers to not show up in parliament. "Our lawmaker friends have put themselves under quarantine in their houses for 14 days as necessitated by their responsibilities," Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said on March 17.
Muslims in the Eyyübiye district of the southeastern province of Urfa have said that they won't abide by the Diyanet's decision to suspend all congregational prayers in mosques. "We are not afraid of the coronavirus. Since Allah ordered prayers to be performed with congregation, we will go on," one of the residents told local media.
A total of 19 people were detained over sharing "unfounded and provocative" posts on social media about coronavirus, Turkey's Interior Ministry has said. The interior ministry statement said there were social media posts which were targeting officials and spreading panic and fear by suggesting that the virus had spread widely in Turkey and that officials had taken insufficient measures.
Dozens of pilgrims taken into coronavirus quarantine in a student dormitory in the Central Anatolian province of Konya confronted police during their attempt to escape. The incident was slammed on social media, with Twitter users saying that the escape attempt is reckless. When asked about the incident, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that "a more detailed plan was prepared on the issue."
Thousands of Muslims returning to Turkey from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia were taken into quarantine on March 15 due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Thousands of students residing in dormitories belonging to the Higher Education Loans and Dormitories Institution (KYK) were told to leave the dorms at midnight, with some unable to gather their belongings. The pilgrims under quarantine, meanwhile, complained about the dormitories being "similar to a barn."
Turkey will temporarily close bars and nightclubs as of Monday as part of measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak. The Interior Ministry on Sunday ordered the closure across all 81 provinces starting 10 a.m. local time today.
Public transportation ridership is down by 10 percent in Istanbul in the last three days, the municipality announced on March 13. The number of passengers has reduced to around 6.73 million per day from 7.44 million amidst growing concern over the novel coronavirus, the municipality spokesperson announced.
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.
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Selahattin Demirtaş writes: You have re-arrested us after six years. You say we are the instigators of the Kobane massacres when we were actually the victims. Do you think you will be able to make us responsible for this through conspiracies based on secret witnesses and be saved from responsibility? You must genuinely believe that the fascism you rely on today will always exist.
Politics
A local court in southern Turkey acquitted Birol K. of charges related to his sexual abuse of an underage relative, as well as holding her against her will. The court's ruling came despite eyewitnesses, forensic proof of the abuse and the man's death threats against the survivor.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca slammed Istanbulites' Sunday outing on İstiklal Avenue on Oct. 18, saying that anyone who entered the crowd healthy would come out ill. Meanwhile, some 1,815 COVID-19 diagnoses were made on Oct. 18, while some 72 patients died.
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
A committee of main opposition CHP politicians said that the construction of a visitors' center on southeast Turkey's iconic Mount Nemrut was a betrayal to nature. The CHP committee noted that the site was pending assignment as a UNESCO geopark and that the construction was putting it in jeopardy.
The NATO has criticized a possible test by Turkey of its Russian-made S-400 missile launcher and stepped up calls on Ankara to opt for a different defense system. “Any test of the S-400 air defense system by Turkey, if confirmed, would be regrettable. It is important Turkey continues to work with other allies to find alternative solutions," it said in a statement.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu sent congratulatory messages to HDP co-chairs Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan on the party's eighth foundation anniversary. "I underline once again that we will never give up on building peace and fraternity," İmamoğlu said.
Five health workers have died of COVID-19 in just one day, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said on Oct. 18, as it criticized the government for not being able to manage the pandemic properly. The names of the health workers were revealed as Dr. Salih Kanlı, Dr. Turan Yıldırım, Ferhat Gencer, Harun Dönmez and Yasemin Çolak. The number of health workers who died of COVID-19 in the past eight days rose to 13.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has cancelled his planned visit to Turkey after Ankara said it was restarting operations of a survey ship that it withdrew last month. Maas said that Ankara's renewed push "severely damaged" the atmosphere of trust and said that Turkey can't have any interest in the long-term continuation of the conflicts that it's involved in.
Denizli Governor Ali Fuat Atik has prompted fury for ordering a restaurant to be closed because a waiter working there didn't recognize him. Following criticism on social media, Atik apologized, saying that he was saddened by his approach to the man. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also commented on the incident, saying that he found it appropriate for the governor to apologize.
Some 2,500 academics worldwide, including famed international scholars Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Etienne Balibar and Enzo Traverso, have signed a petition for Turkey to release Cihan Erdal, a PhD candidate and researcher at Carleton University in Canada and an LGBT activist, who was detained in Istanbul on Sept. 25.
A show owner in Denizli has told the governor of the province that he wants to die because of the worsening economy when asked why he was not wearing a mask. "I've had enough. I want to die. Look at the economy. I gained 15 liras on Tuesday and 100 liras on Wednesday. What use does it have even if that 100 liras is all profit?" the shop owner said.
In the government's latest attempt to criminalize the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), summary of proceedings have been prepared against 18 of its deputies, bringing charges against them for attending demonstrations and for making statements including the word "Kurdistan."
Osman Kavala remains behind bars as one of Turkey's most high-profile political prisoners, while President Erdoğan appointed the prosecutor who prepared Kavala's indictment to the post of Deputy Justice Minister. The appointment came within seven days of the indictment's preparation, and removed the prior appointee by presidential decree.
Hale Gönültaş reports: Turkey's financial crimes unit has determined that Afghan criminals engaged in drug smuggling and in the funding of terror operations are exploiting Afghan refugees in Turkey via bank transfers. As migrants are unable to transport large sums of money and often cannot open bank accounts in Turkey, they rely on moneychangers who transfer cash for a fee, and this is usually the only option.
Health Ministry failed to deliver an Oct. 15 data release that was designed to offset the repercussions of the revelation that Ankara's official COVID-19 numbers had been excluding asymptomatic patients. The ministry said that Fahrettin Koca's promise to release all data starting on Oct. 15 had been "misunderstood," and that they would only share certain numbers with the WHO.
Former President Abdullah Gül said that he was "appalled" by the attacks on Turkey's Constitutional Court, the most recent of which accused a member of threatening a military coup. The coup debate closely followed discussions on overhauling the Constitutional Court, which many members of the governing bloc in Ankara voiced support for.
Economy
President Erdoğan on Oct. 17 announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea, following a similar find in August. As a result of testing, analysis and detailed engineering work, another 85 billion cubic meters were added to the reserves we had discovered. The total amount of natural gas reserves in the TUNA-1 well of the Sakarya Gas Field reached 405 billion cubic meters," Erdoğan said.
Turkish exporters are struggling with shrinking markets as Morocco appears to have joined the countries that are effectively boycotting all products made in Turkey. Sources from the Moroccan Ministry of Trade indicate that measures have been put in place to prevent unfair competition from Turkish textile producers who are dominating the local market.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed a dip in real estate sales vis-a-vis last year in September, dropping by 6.9 percent for some 136,744 residences sold. Meanwhile, the total volume of sales between January and September was larger than the number in 2019.
Urban Beat
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.
The 39th Istanbul Film Festival will offer viewings both online and in-person, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) noted. While tickets will become available on Oct. 2, showings will start a week later and last for 10 days.