How similar are Italians and Turks?
BELGİN AKALTAN - firstname.lastname@example.org
Puppets of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during a carnival. AFP PhotoThis week we are going to Italy. An Italian reader, “Rea from Italy” wrote this email to me:
“Merhaba, I’m Italian and I often read Hürriyet Daily News since I had recently lived in Istanbul for one year. I left Turkey just before the events of Gezi Park…
“When I was in Turkey I felt on my skin the ‘air,’ I mean, the common thinking of people, the different groups [the conservatives, the atheist and the half-and-half]. I saw the great optimistic look in the eyes of [those] who believed in the growth of the economy and the odd contradictions of outstanding richness among a big lack of education and lack of knowledge of things that I consider obvious. For example, I had a Turkish boyfriend, supposed to have a high education and an open mind, but he was only caring about money, going to Europe and making a good figure... In fact, he finally found a job in Germany and left me, but this is another story.
“When I was in Turkey I often made comparison with my home country, Italy. You know we had 20 years of Berlusconi’s rule ... He is the big friend of Erdoğan and Putin...
“The entire world was wondering how Italians could still vote for him time after time. If you asked around ‘Did you vote for Berlusconi?’ you couldn’t find a single person answering ‘yes.’ So, it seemed nobody voted for him. And he was leading the country again and again.
“Berlusconi changed the laws to his advantage, seeking to change Italy in a presidential republic to gather all the powers for his own self. ‘Unfortunately’ everything collapsed, not because of the protests, not because of a strong political opposition; but because of a 16-year-old show girl.
“I used to tell my Turkish friends ‘Turkey looks like Italy in the ‘80s; we were a growing in economy. Simple minds were intoxicated with money and shopping and we were losing our local identity to live an American style life. But then there was a huge crisis. Money was gone, debts soared and now we are close to poverty.’
“In the Berlusconi era, there was a huge cultural decadence: His moral values were sex, corruption, appearance, make everything look wonderful while it was falling down. He discouraged education and culture. He managed the country like a big company, as if he were the boss giving gifts to his employers.
“People hated this attitude. So, why had they voted for him? And WHO voted for him?
“This may be the answer: Italy is an aging country. The majority of the population consists of old retired people who only watch TV [especially Berlusconi’s TV with soap operas and family talk shows]; they aren’t able to use computers and the Internet and they also don’t read newspapers. They only saw Berlusconi on TV, in his own newscasts. They believed whatever he said. And they voted for him.
“This is just an opinion from a foreigner. Turkey is mostly made up of conservative people who don’t use computers and the Internet, who watch a lot of TV and who want to believe in Erdoğan, whatever he says.
“Can it be because of lack of education? Or can it be because people are too lazy to look deeper? Or because you have a leader who makes everything and tells you what to do, then you don’t have to do the thinking, use your brain, and that this is very comfortable?
“I wish the best for Turkey; I wish someday Turkey is going to be a real free democratic country, in peace with itself and not obsessed with money. Good luck!”
I want to finish with the words of another reader, Halit Erdoğan. I don’t know where he lives but I like his style:
“The Republic of Turkey belongs to only Sunnis, Turks and our respected Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. There is no place for you dirty Alevis, Kurds, Armenians and anti-AK Party dogs who protest like little dogs. If you people are so strong then come and face the AK Party face-to-face without hiding your worthless, cheap and crap identities! Turkey is the best!! AK Party is the best!! Turkish police is the best … AK Party and the Muslims will unite and kick you cheap dirty people out of this nation!!”
In an earlier email, the same Halit Erdoğan wrote “Sen ne bicim bir kadinsin?! (What kind of a woman are you?) I don’t even think you are a Turk!! A real Turk, a real grandchild of the Ottomans, a real child of Atatürk would never create such stupid stories like you!! … You don’t see anything and this shows your low IQ level. Turkey should stop being Republic and should start being the Kingdom of Turkey … Our future is in the hands of Mr. Erdoğan, he will be the king of this holy nation and land.”
Good luck in that also and thank you to all my readers – without you we could not exist…