Turkish government
Turkish Education Ministry has urged its personnel to attend a symposium on Hagia Sophia organized by the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) and scheduled to be held in Istanbul on Sept. 30 upon the religious body's request. The ministry sent a notice to all provincial and district directorates to ensure attendance.
Former Ağrı Mayor Sırrı Sakık has been sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison over terrorism charges. The case against Sakık concerns a press statement he issued in 2015 for the resumed clashes between the PKK and Turkish military to come to an end. The prison sentence was handed down despite then Ağrı Governor Musa Işın's testimony that he had given his approval to the press statement in question.
The Patriotic Party led by Doğu Perinçek has expelled one of its prominent figures for opposing the party's stance on siding with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Çiçek's criticism of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and pro-government businessman Ethem Sancak were listed among the reasons for expulsion.
Prof. Yasin Aktay, a chief advisor to Erdoğan, has said that there is "rapprochement and contact" between Turkey and Egypt. "I don't have exact information, but from what I'm hearing and seeing, there's rapprochement and contact between the sides," Aktay said, adding that actual contact is needed "despite the differences" between Erdoğan and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Turkey had its debt rating cut deeper into junk by Moody’s Investors Service, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dismissed credit agency ratings. The sovereign credit rating was cut to B2, five levels below investment grade and on par with Egypt, Jamaica and Rwanda, Bloomberg reported. “Do what you want to do, your ratings are of no importance," Erdoğan said in response.
Over 36,000 people were probed in one year over "insulting" President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Justice Ministry statistics showed. Out of the 36,066 people probed, 12,298 were tried and 3,381 were given sentences. Before Erdoğan's term, the highest number of people being sentenced over "insulting" a president was 44.
Turkey's main opposition CHP has deemed the return of seismic research vessel Oruç Reis to its base in Antalya "a compromise," while also calling on the government to "not make compromises in our rightful cause" following an extraordinary meeting on the escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
A banter between two Istanbul district municipalities about who had the best views turned into a nationwide competition. While the two Istanbul municipalities also compared accomplishments, municipalities from around Turkey sent in their best shots.
Ankara will be paying private construction companies bi-annually for any difference in actual revenue and projected revenue under the build-operate-transfer contracts. Operators of the massive construction projects, including Istanbul's third Bosphorus bridge, received payments annually before the shock to the Turkish Lira against the dollar in 2018.
Hacı Bişkin reports: The southeastern districts of Şırnak, Cizre, Silopi, İdil and Roboski have witnessed some of the highest increases in drug use in Turkey in recent years, resulting from a combination of unemployment, regional conflict, insufficient education, and mental health issues. Roboski has the highest number of drug addicts per capita in the region.
Turkey’s media watchdog RTÜK has ordered Netflix to remove the French-made feature film Cuties on grounds that it contains images of child exploitation. The plot of "Cuties" centres on an 11-year-old Muslim girl who "starts to rebel against her conservative family's traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew," according to Netflix.
HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar has criticized ECHR head Robert Spano over his decision to accept an honorary doctorate in law from Istanbul University, emphasizing that Turkey has been severely violating its obligations under the ECHR.
President Erdoğan on Sept. 1 called for the expulsion of lawyers from the profession should they be accused of links to "terrorism." Erdoğan's comments came after a picture of lawyer Ebru Timtik was hung outside the headquarters of the Istanbul Bar Association. Timtik died in an Istanbul hospital on Aug. 27 after a 238-day hunger strike with a demand for a fair trial.
Main opposition İzmir Mayor Tunç Soyer on Aug. 30 led on his bike an open-top bus prepared for a Victory Day Parade. Soyer's move came after the governor's office barred him from touring the city on the bus and only allowed band members to ride it.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said that Turkish Workers Party (TİP) deputy Barış Atay would be "a perfect rapist" after the lawmaker criticized him over the fact that a specialized sergeant was not arrested over sexual assault even though the existence of plenty of evidence. He also addressed Atay as a "leftover" of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C).
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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
DEVA chair Ali Babacan has criticized the government's new three-year economic program, saying he did not see it including any “concrete steps” which will economically provide a relief to the people. Babacan also said that with this new program, the government has admitted to Turkey being impoverished since he left the position of deputy prime minister in 2015.
Turkey's Constitutional Court on Sept. 29 postponed its decision to review Osman Kavala's appeal with regards to his ongoing arrest, citing the impending indictment against the philanthropist. Just a couple of hours after the Constitutional Court's statement, Istanbul prosecutors submitted the new indictment against Kavala to the relevant court, concerning “espionage” charges.
Istanbul prosecutors have dismissed a case against CHP Istanbul chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu, who was being sued by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aide Fahrettin Altun in a dispute concerning an illegal construction undertaken in Istanbul's Üsküdar district.
Murat Gezenler, the head of a Salafi association, has said that the number of Salafis in Turkey is much higher than what is stated in the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) reports. Gezenler also said that one of the differences between his association and ISIS is that the latter accepts Turks as Muslims, whereas they don't.
Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Group Deputy Chair Saruhan Oluç said that the government was trying to create "a Turkey without the HDP" with its mass detentions. Dozens of HDP members were detained last week in relation to the 2014 Kobane protests.
Turkish Parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop has said that he believes in reintroduction of death penalty for certain crimes, a proposal suggested by far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli earlier in September. "I am of the opinion that death penalty could be considered for premediated murder and sexual abuses committed against minors and women,” Şentop said on Sept. 29.
Turkish state and university hospitals are offering to repay debts totalling some 19 billion lira ($2.43 billion) to drugmakers and medical equipment firms, but with a discount, Reuters reported on Sept. 29.
Turkey's Human Rights Association revealed that 20 inmates died in prison in Turkey during the first nine months of 2020. Data also showed that there are currently 1,605 sick prisoners in Turkey, 604 of which are seriously ill.
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that he doesn't care about exchange rates and that he doesn't follow them, as the Turkish Lira plumbed to new lows on Sept. 29. Albayrak's comments came after he unveiled the country's new economic program for 2021-2023 based on themes of "new stabilization, new normal, and the new economy." The minister said the Turkish economy is projected to grow 0.3 percent this year.
A man who stabbed and killed his neighbor's dog and injured two others was released by an Istanbul court. Due to a lack of legal protection for animal rights in Turkey, the attacker Faruk Ö. was charged with property damage.
The downfall of cruise tourism has benefited Turkey's ship recyclers as multi-million-dollar ships are scrapped at the Aegean Izmir facility. The recyclers expect almost one million tonnes of scraps this year.
Students in the eastern province of Kars asked the government for help in a video where they're seen doing classwork on a barren hill, the only spot where they can access the internet. Former main opposition deputy Barış Yarkadaş noted that remote education wasn't as effective as the government made it seem.
The publisher and editor-in-chief of a local daily were arrested on slander charges in the western province of Koceali two days after running a story about a “rape gang” in the district. While the story accused local officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of assaulting a minor, the prosecutor’s office ruled the suspects mentioned “were not involved” in the incident.
The total number of COVID-19 deaths in Turkey surpassed 8,000 as 65 patients died on Sept. 28, Health Ministry data revealed. Meanwhile, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca noted that the number of recovered patients was higher than the number of new diagnoses for the first time in a while.
The Kars governor's office announced on Sept. 28 that it banned all “demonstrations and activities” for a period of 15 days until Oct. 12. The ban came into effect just hours before HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan's planned rally in the province, in support of Kars mayor Ayhan Bilgen who was among those taken into custody in simultaneous police raids last week.
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.
Economy
A jaw dropping 95 percent of a fund established to develop Turkey's internet infrastructure has disappeared, a main opposition deputy said. Some 1.5 billion liras were collected for the fund in 2019, but 1.4 billion of that has vanished, Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Murat Emir said.
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.
Urban Beat
CHP deputy Mustafa Adıgüzel has found a lost letter penned by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey's founding father, to a U.S. child called Curtis La France. "My advice to the intelligent and hardworking children of the U.S. is to not perceive everything they hear about Turks as true and attach importance to basing their opinions on scientific and sound examinations. I wish you success and happiness," Atatürk said in the letter.
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.
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.