Headlines from the centennial! – Seventh sequel
Here we go again, more headlines from the Istanbul press in the year 2023, while of course the world will be watching with envy the rise and rise and rise of Turkey:
• Two toddlers were detained by the police for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Witnesses said the toddlers started crying “like they were being tortured” after Mr. Erdoğan appeared on TV at a café where the mother of the suspects was feeding them milk. A prosecutor released them on the grounds that they were unable to speak. Later, the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors suspended the prosecutor.
• President Erdoğan said he was now very proud that the number of students enrolled at imam-hatip schools had exceeded 9 million, compared to 60,000 when his government first came to power in 2002. But Mr. Erdoğan condemned the Nobel Committee for refusing his request to launch a prize in imam studies. In support, Turkish Education Minister Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, former leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), accused the Committee of “sheer Islamophobia.”
• Six former ministers in former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s December 2015 cabinet were detained on charges of being accomplices of the Gülen terror organization. Prosecutors said Mr. Davutoğlu, too, was being investigated in the probe. In an address to the nation, President Erdoğan said of the probe: “Ah, my dear nation, we were fooled, we were betrayed!”
• Turkish Prime Minister Khaleed Meshaal, [a former Hamas official] a largely symbolic figure in Turkey’s executive presidential system, said in Arabic: “We will never give up demanding a no-fly zone in northern Syria.” Few Turks understood his remarks.
• The Prime Ministry’s My Big Fat Conservative Wedding Department announced that its efforts had fallen short of finding spouses for 3.5 million young Turks who have applied for marriage since 2019. The department, now on its way to being dissolved, was created after Mr. Davutoğlu promised to find spouses for young Turks during his 2015 election campaign.
• Meanwhile, Mr. Davutoğlu has released his 22nd book, “Politics Is Ungrateful.” His previous titles, “My Fight against PM Davutoğlu: I Had a Dream,” and “I Would Have Liberated Jerusalem” sold more than 400,000 copies in Turkey.
• Interior Minister Abdürrahim Boynukalın announced that 329 terrorists had been detained in a new probe. He said the terrorists were disguised as journalists and were caught while plotting to write articles. Mr. Boynukalın was the young MP who organized a 2015 mob attack on Hürriyet newspaper’s HQ in Istanbul.
• At least 219 people, including local policemen, were injured in scuffles between Turks and Kurds, Turks and Turks and Kurds and Kurds, as thousands of Turkish citizens gathered to vote at the embassies in La Paz, Pretoria, Seoul, Katmandu, Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur.
• Justice Minister Mohamad Morsi, a former president of Egypt who obtained Turkish citizenship in 2019, gave permission for legal proceedings against a dissident columnist. The prosecutors claim that the columnist’s totally blank column “implied that it might have been filled with words of insult against the president.”
• A farmer in western Turkey was accused of insulting the president when he went to a police station to report thievery. When asked about the reason for his visit to the police station, the farmer said: “I have come here to complain of thieves.” The police immediately detained him and reported his offense to the prosecutor’s office. A prosecutor immediately indicted him.
• The New Islamic State, which defeated ISIL in 2017, was granted observer status at a United Nations panel. Turkey abstained. The New Islamic State and Turkey in 2021 downgraded their diplomatic ties to the level of charge d’affaires after a dispute over which state should claim the mantle of the Islamic Caliphate.
• The latest census revealed that Turkey’s population had shrunk to 65 million in 2022 from nearly 80 million in 2015. Interior Minister Boynukalın said the sharp decline was due to “those Turks who have gotten the hell out of Turkey.”