Hagia Sophia
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.
Germany now seems as if it has more empathy toward Turkey as compared to the past. This is because Germans have recognized the futility of spending energy clashing with the leader of a country who has completely changed national policies into tactics that keep him in power.
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.
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.
A pro-Taliban group has recorded a video at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, days after the site was converted into a mosque by the Turkish government. The footage showed the group chanting Islamic slogans while holding the flag used by the Taliban.
A ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy has tested positive positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) days after attending Friday prayers at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia. Akay is the third AKP deputy to announce that he was diagnosed with coronavirus after attending the prayers.
Thousands of Muslim worshipers gathered at Hagia Sophia on July 31 morning to attend Eid al-Adha prayers for the first time since the iconic building's conversion into a mosque. Blue Mosque, which sits just across the Hagia Sophia, however got no attention at all, despite being packed during the Eid al-Adha prayers in previous years.
The area in the Hagia Sophia where emperors used to be coronated was left exposed when carpeting was installed in the structure to prepare it for Muslim prayer, Istanbul Culture and Tourism Director Coşkun Yılmaz said. The former museum was opened to Muslim worship on July 24, holding the first mass prayer in decades.
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield and his family visited Hagia Sophia to see the restoration works carried out at the site after its conversion into a mosque. "Ambassador Satterfield toured Hagia Sophia to admire its grandeur and technical genius, and better understand the renovation and restoration work to be completed to preserve the universal value of and continued access to this monumental building," the embassy said on July 30.
There is a need for a segment that will wear the outfit shown at the podium in Hagia Sophia in neighborhoods. The soul and the spirit that has been infused into the AKP government has to have reciprocity in the streets. The sword at the Hagia Sophia mosque opening will turn into a stick if needed.
Though he wants to come to power, the main opposition leader does not even know if there will be an election. He insists the days ahead are bright while the AKP-MHP government twists and undermines the few remaining freedoms and rights that prevail in this country: from gender equality to social media.
The Syrian government will build a replica of the Hagia Sophia that will operate as an Orthodox cathedral, in protest of the Turkish government's move to convert the iconic structure into a mosque, according to various media reports. A Russian lawmaker said that Moscow will provide funding for the project to show the importance of “peaceful dialogue” between faiths.
Police blocked a protest by the Confederation of Public Employees Trade Union (KESK) slamming comments by the country's top religious figure. Diyanet head Ali Erbaş have been the source of controversy nationwide, as he "damned" the country's founding father Atatürk during his sermon at the first mass prayer held at Hagia Sophia.
The seismic research vessel Oruç Reis is now parked inside the port of Antalya. The magic behind the rapprochement is named “Merkel” — but the recent spike of the Euro (and the U.S. dollar) vis-à-vis the Turkish lira may have to do with the sudden change of hearts in Ankara.
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duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Politics
A group led by forensic science expert and human rights defender Prof. Şebnem Korur Fincancı won the elections for the leadership of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB). Fincancı is now expected to be elected the leader of the association in the upcoming meeting.
A women's prison in southeast Turkey banned a book that was co-authored by the chairman of Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM). The book that was found "suspicious" by the prison is about freedom of expression.
The New York Times reported on Sept. 28 that Trump Towers Istanbul has netted U.S. President Donald Trump $1 million in 2016 and 2017. Trump has long had business ties in and with Turkey, the most visible example being the Trump Towers Istanbul, which licenses the Trump name.
Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into Tele1 TV editor-in-chief Merdan Yanardağ over his reports that Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman paid a visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following his wedding ceremony. The court ruled for Yanardağ's release, but imposed judicial control measures involving regularly reporting at his local police station as well as overseas travel ban.
Halk TV, a broadcaster that's critical of the government, blacked out on Sept. 28 following a ruling from Turkey's Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK). The five-day blackout is a first in the council's history, as such harsh sanctions haven't been issued before.
The Turkish presidency has prepared a video and an anthem on the occasion of the anniversary of the Naval Battle of Preveza which took place near the port of Prevaza in northwestern Greece in 1538. The video is a historic recreation of the battle but also includes various shots of Turkish naval officers.
A one-year-old toddler has been tortured to death in Istanbul, daily Birgün reported on Sept. 28. The toddler named “Hayat” (which translates as “Life” in Turkish) was reported to have bruises and burn scars on the body. The police reportedly detained the father whereas the mother is currently missing.
A fake "scientific publication" robbed some 50 people, mostly academics, of a total one million liras in southeast Turkey. The fraud allegedly offered users publication, and created an online space by copying legitimate websites.
Deputies and officials of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) protested the detention of dozens of members last week, on charges related to the October 2014 Kobane protests. The HDP members are accused of inciting violence in the events that lead to the deaths of 37 people, as members of Turkish Hizbullah also took to the streets.
Turkey's first coronavirus vaccine was administered on Sept. 28 in Istanbul University. A 53-year-old health worker volunteered to receive the shot, and said that he hoped it would eliminate the pandemic soon.
Daily BirGün released video showing the crime scene of Nadira Kadirova's alleged suicide, revealing signs of a struggle in the suspicious death of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Şirin Ünal's help. Meanwhile, the daily released a video of Kadirova's mother at her grave, accusing the deputy of killing the young woman.
Kurdish singer Cesim Başboğa said that he was threatened by gendarmerie officials and MİT members to not sing in Kurdish in Bitlis' Tatvan district. According to Başboğa, a MİT official "banned" him to sing in Kurdish, saying, "I'm warning you for the last time. You'll be in trouble in the smallest mistake."
Turkish police have denied that three HDP politicians, including Mayor Ayhan Bilgen, were hospitalized over food poisoning while under detention. According to the police statement that was released after the HDP's claims on the issue, Bilgen was taken to a hospital over an infection in his body. Deputy Hüseyin Kaçmaz earlier on Sept. 28 said that Bilgen, İsmail Şengün and Can Memiş were taken to a hospital over food poisoning.
Turkish prosecutors have prepared a second indictment in connection with the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. The indictment against the six suspects, including two consulate workers and four other Saudi nationals, was sent to the court to be combined with the main case.
Turkey's Industry and Technology Ministry falsely advertised opening a factory in a mass opening event, only to be refuted by the facility's board who said they'd been in business for 45 years. It was later claimed that the name was erroneously added, and that some of the factories had merely been invested in, and not built from scratch.
Police in the southeastern province of Şırnak are refusing to release the numbers of arrests for selling and using drugs amid a surge in illegal substances in recent years. "It has been determined that such information cannot be accessed on an individual basis," police responded to an inquiry by Duvar.
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.
City water in a district of western Kütahya was revealed to contain levels of arsenic 350 times higher than the acceptable standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The water also reportedly contains 8,000 times the acceptable level of boron, and deaths from cancer in the Emet district are three times as high as the other districts of Kütahya.
The Turkish government's restrictions on card and board games are hurting business for old-fashioned coffee houses. Old-fashioned coffeehouses are an important part of social life, especially for retired and unemployed men in Turkey, and board and card games are among the primary activities.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Urban Beat
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.