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Turkey

Erdogan's Crackdown On Co-Ed Housing, Early Signs Of An Islamic Police State

Main entrance gate of Istanbul University on Beyazıt Square
Main entrance gate of Istanbul University on Beyazıt Square
Mehmet Yilmaz

-Op-Ed-

ISTANBUL — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the following to parliamentary representatives at his party’s gathering last week at Kizilcahamam:

“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.

A warning

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.

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Society

Genoa Postcard: A Tale Of Modern Sailors, Echos Of The Ancient Mariner

Many seafarers are hired and fired every seven months. Some keep up this lifestyle for 40 years while sailing the world. Some of those who'd recently docked in the Italian port city of Genoa, share a taste of their travels that are connected to a long history of a seafaring life.

A sailor smokes a cigarette on the hydrofoil Procida

A sailor on the hydrofoil Procida in Italy

Daniele Frediani/Mondadori Portfolio via ZUMA Press
Paolo Griseri

GENOA — Cristina did it to escape after a tough breakup. Luigi because he dreamed of adventures and the South Seas. Marianna embarked just “before the refrigerator factory where I worked went out of business. I’m one of the few who got severance pay.”

To hear their stories, you have to go to the canteen on Via Albertazzi, in Italy's northern port city of Genoa, across from the ferry terminal. The place has excellent minestrone soup and is decorated with models of the ships that have made the port’s history.

There are 38,000 Italian professional sailors, many of whom work here in Genoa, a historic port of call that today is the country's second largest after Trieste on the east coast. Luciano Rotella of the trade union Italian Federation of Transport Workers says the official number of maritime workers is far lower than the reality, which contains a tangle of different laws, regulations, contracts and ethnicities — not to mention ancient remnants of harsh battles between shipowners and crews.

The result is that today it is not so easy to know how many people sail, nor their nationalities.

What is certain is that every six to seven months, the Italian mariner disembarks the ship and is dismissed: they take severance pay and after waits for the next call. Andrea has been sailing for more than 20 years: “When I started out, to those who told us we were earning good money, I replied that I had a precarious life: every landing was a dismissal.”

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