Ottoman Empire
Once-bustling Istanbul office of Turkey’s EU Affairs Ministry turns into a shisha cafe; thousands apply for an ad that seeks “gigolos for rich older women” and an online campaign #womenempoweringwomen turns to a “mirror mirror on the wall” contest.
Murat Yetkin writes: What Abdul Hamid II established, the Yıldız Intelligence Organization, was not a national institution but a personal intelligence organization. The leader who established the first national intelligence organization in Turkey was Atatürk, whom Erdoğan did not feel the need to mention.
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş delivered the Friday sermon at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand, presenting an Ottoman tradition of conquest. Two green flags were also hung on the pulpit of the mosque as a symbol of conquest.
In recent years and increasingly so, Turkey’s near abroad policy can be described assertive and defiant at best, foolhardy and hazardous at worst. For some, it is just looking for trouble almost all the time, everywhere. The latest addition to the list is the Azerbaijan-Armenia border skirmishes.
Ankara wants to play the “Leader of the Muslim world card” — but there is more to Hagia Sophia’s conversion than just that. Just like the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “West Bank annexation” policy, Ankara banks on the strategy of “creating an international problem to overshadow debating domestic grievances and making national politics dependent on the existing government through isolation” strategy.
Patriarch Kirill, the leader of Russia's Orthodox Church, said on July 6 that calls to convert Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into a mosque posed a threat to Christianity. "A threat against Hagia Sophia is a threat to all of Christian civilization, meaning [a threat to] our spirituality and history," Patriarch Kirill said in a statement.
Since the day Ekrem İmamoğlu became the mayor of Istanbul in June 2019, I think the most elegant and meaningful thing he has done so far is buying the Mehmed the Conqueror portrait. The mayor and the team who developed and carried out this idea should be congratulated.
Turkey's media watchdog announced that they launched an investigation into an online news broadcaster for a host's comments about Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II's harsh policies toward the time's progressives. The TV host recalled the sultan's sentencing of a past counsel to death, and his policies toward contemporary authors.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on June 25 announced that the municipality purchased a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II at a London auction. According to the London-based world-famous Christie's auction house, the municipality's winning bid amounted to £770,000 ($955,000) for the oil painting, which is believed to be the work of Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reportedly ordered the establishment of an institution to develop strategies regarding the Armenian Genocide. According to Hürriyet, officials pointed to the fact that there aren't any institutions that deal with the subject and Erdoğan ordered works on it to be completed as soon as possible.
Relations between Turkey and the European Union may indeed be back on track, but which track is that exactly? Just when I had given credit to EU-Turkey rapprochement, despite my usually pessimistic self, the usual flare-ups with Greece started up again.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed those deeming Istanbul's conquest by the Ottoman Empire "an occupation," a week after Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy called it as such. "In the recent days, some ignorant people are attempting to describe it as occupation," Erdoğan said a week after Ersoy called it an occupation.
Our official and public/individual reactions to Mr. George Floyd’s killing is a perfect looking glass mirror. We are exempt of all sins. There were no enslaved Circassian women’s blood running in our veins. No property “confiscated” from our Armenian neighbours who decided to take an unexpected walk.
Islamic prayers were on May 29 recited at the Hagia Sophia museum to commemorate the anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. President Erdoğan joined the Quran recital via videoconference and addressed the nation in a speech.
Turks and Kurds are not exotic fruits that grow in faraway lands. As citizens of this country, namely the Republic of Turkey, they yearn for equality, justice for all, state of law, plurality, agency, effective administration through decentralization, secularism, better education and economy for their children, security.
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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?
Nilüfer Bulut writes: Forced Islamization was one of the methods of survival during what Armenians call “Medz Yeghern,” the great catastrophe. Professor Zerrin Kurtoğlu Şahin says that by complying with the imposition of Islamization, these Armenians (mostly women and children) were assured their biological existence, but their cultural and social connections were ripped away.
Murat Yetkin writes: What Abdul Hamid II established, the Yıldız Intelligence Organization, was not a national institution but a personal intelligence organization. The leader who established the first national intelligence organization in Turkey was Atatürk, whom Erdoğan did not feel the need to mention.
Politics
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu said that more than 200,000 passengers arrived in Turkey during the month of June, when Turkish Airlines recommenced international flights. The minister failed to answer a question about layoffs within the country's flagship carrier.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 30 the United States was continuing to evaluate how it would respond to Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems. "We continue to evaluate how to apply sanctions in order to achieve our end objective," Pompeo said.
A group of seven-eight unidentified Turkish citizens on July 26 battered six Syrian children under the age of 18 in Hatay's Kırıkhan district. The local governor's office on July 30 announced that an investigation was launched into the incident and two of the children are receiving treatment at hospital.
An Ankara court has reversed a ban on a gay pride march that was imposed by ODTÜ rectorate in May 2019. The court said that the rectorate's decision had no legal basis as the all-embracing ban enacted by the Ankara Governor's Office in 2017 had been already lifted.
Students enrolled in the Kurdish language departments of universities in Turkey will no longer be allowed to submit their dissertations in Kurdish. Former academic Selim Temo has also announced that from now on, all lectures at these departments will be conducted only in Turkish.
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.
Dozens of celebrities all over the world, including Ellie Goulding, Christina Aguilera, Milla Jovovich and many more, have posted black and white pictures of themselves to voice solidarity with victims of femicides in Turkey. The trend began after women in Turkey said that they don't want to see their pictures in black and white in newspapers after they are killed.
No Turkish teams will be relegated from the Süper Lig after a season impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, Turkish Football Federation chairman Nihat Özdemir said on July 29. He added that the Süper Lig's new foreign player restrictions would also not apply for the 2020-21 season.
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.
A district governor's office in Ankara ordered the municipality to transfer any donations they collected for COVID-19 relief to the central government for public use. The donation campaign by the main opposition municipality had been suspended on March 31 on the grounds that any aid would be carried out by the central government.
The bar head of the border province of Hatay, Ekrem Dönmez, has said that he filed a complaint against police officers who detained him by force in the province's İskenderun district. "We have to decide whether we are a police state or a state of law. We're going through a process that all the critical voices are suppressed. Yesterday's incident is linked to that," Dönmez told reporters on July 30.
Some 20,000 books went missing from the National Library of Turkey in 2019, a main opposition deputy claimed in a parliamentary question. CHP deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi also said that materials at the National Library that weren't books had decreased in number.
Google is preparing to remove shopping ads from search results in Turkey, which come up at the very top of the page almost anytime that a “shopping-related” search is done. The move comes following the Turkish Competition Authority's ruling earlier this year that the company is obstructing competitors’ activities in the online shopping services market.
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.
Turkey's Presidential Digital Transformation Office has banned public officials from using foreign messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, for work purpose, citing security issues. "If a certain institution doesn't have its own communication application, the local and national applications of which the providers are in Turkey must be preferred," a guide prepared by the office said.
Istanbul's Beşiktaş district is displaying billboards that urge viewers to read the Istanbul Convention, an international document that provides women with legal protection against domestic violence and discrimination. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) recently suggested Turkey might recuse from the document, causing public outcry.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu was ranked the most successful mayor in handling the COVID-19 pandemic in a recent survey by private poller SONAR Research. Imamoğlu was followed by Izmir Mayor Tunç Soyer, also from main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
Turkey's parliament passed a law regulating social media on July 29, that critics said will increase censorship and help authorities silence dissent. The law requires foreign social media sites that have more than 1 million daily visitors in Turkey to appoint Turkish-based representatives to address authorities' concerns over content and includes deadlines for removal of material they take exception to.
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
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.
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry will be turning the iconic Galata Tower into a museum. The ministry will also launch a "culture route" that spans from the tower, along Istiklal Avenue and to Taksim Square. Minister Ersoy also said that the construction of the AKM would be completed within a month, ongoing since February 2019.