“A university student girl is staying at the same house with a male student. There is no supervision for that. This is against our conservative democratic nature. Some kind of supervision must be exercised for this.”
His deputy Bulent Arinc and consultant Yalcin Akdogan first tried to correct these outlandish statements, but Erdogan stood by them, and even went further:
“There are some troubles concerning the sharing of houses in some places since we could not meet dormitory needs,” he said. “In these places, there is intelligence received by our security forces, the police department and the governorates. Acting upon this intelligence, our governors are intervening in these situations.”
So, the governors and security forces are intervening on such matters now. They have their eyes on people’s houses as if they are the gossipmongers of the neighborhood who have nothing better to do.
What is it to you how adult people live?
Parents think of their sons and daughters more than you. They know how to teach decency to them, not you.
“Excuse us, we cannot ignore these denouncements,” the prime minister has said. “Sometimes their neighbors in the same apartment building denounce them.”
What do these youth do that are a problem for the prime minister? Is it because all he can think about is — you know what?
He was on a roll, and continued: “Steps will be taken to show that the state is here. This is not intervening in the people’s way of life.”
What could the state possibly do that is more intervening to our way of life? Can you imagine a state that peeps inside people’s houses calling itself a democracy?
What’s next? What can we expect from an administration that believes it has the right to use the state’s governors and the police to intervene in people’s houses because their neighbors denounce them? Will they assign a police officer to each of us for every situation that does not comply with the prime minister’s conservative way of life?
It seems like we are at the dawn of an Islamist-fascist regime.
As a self-proclaimed “Islamist conservative,” the prime minister may be disturbed by non-married adults sharing the same roof. He may believe that this is not the right way to live. That’s fine. What’s not fine is forcing view this on society with police action.
People have the right to raise their children in any way they want just as the prime minister has the right to raise his children the way he wants.
We also know that the majority of Turkish parents are uneasy with relationships outside of wedlock. If the prime minister really intends to help these people, his job is not to use the police as voyeurs.
He could, for example, build more dormitories for university students. Since he is a “world leader” and Turkey is a “force in the world,” he could easily finance dormitories where the students can find cheap housing and proper meals.
This way, he could even help his friends in the construction business. Wouldn’t that be a good solution? That is what you do if you are a conservative leader in a normal democracy.
If you are against relationships outside of wedlock, you take measures to encourage people to get married. You offer tax breaks or introduce measures such as the newly enacted financial support to married students law, or offer priorities for employment.
Nobody would have any problem with these ideas. But police intervention in domestic housing creates a police state, and is not consistent with a democracy. Does the prime minister not have an adviser who can explain this to him?
When Erdogan has made harsh criticisms about the Gezi Park protests and talked about the 50 percent of the population he was struggling to “retain home,” people with sticks and machetes in hand thought it was their duty to intervene.
Ali Ä°smail Korkmaz, who was murdered expand=1] at a young age, was a victim of these remarks from the prime minister. It is not difficult to guess how conservatives with violent tendencies will perceive mixed student houses.
It is on the prime minister’s head if anything happens to a student. I am warning the governors and the police: use your authority to provide security for the youth, not for voyeurism.
A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.
BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.
Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.
The incident at the cemetery
They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."
There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.
It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.
The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.
The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender
Crimes against Jews are rising
Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.
Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.
Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.
Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.
And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?
Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously
This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.
That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.
Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.
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