Why I must refrain from jokes and prophecy…

Why I must refrain from jokes and prophecy…

How can one not get addicted to this country? It is so full of humor and fun… 

At a time when EU-candidate Turkey and the EU have practically no relations other than unsuccessful shooting of unshootable troubles and an increasing slew of verdicts from the European Court of Human Rights for Turkish violations, Turkey’s EU minister, Egemen Bağış, has been awarded the “Most Successful Minister and Politician of the Year 2012” prize (by the prestigious Black Sea Education, Culture and Environment Protection Foundation). 

Never heard of this prominent NGO entity? Never mind, I had not either, until its management discovered Mr. Bağış’s ministerial virtues. I would not be surprised if a Turkish Sea Lions Preservation Foundation awarded the “Most Liberal Politician of the Year Prize” to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or if a Turkish-Vanuatu Alumni Association nominated Interior Minister Idris Naim Şahin for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Naturally, in a country so full of jokes some very important men tend to take my jokes seriously. Once I proposed – and later repented – that Turkey should build its own aircraft carrier, – for most probable missions like an armed conflict with Chile or Papua New Guinea – its own spaceships for Avatar airborne operations and its own long-range missiles. Miraculously, it only took a few months before defense bigwigs announced plans for all three ideas, one after the other. I felt horrified. But that was not all.

When Mr. Erdoğan four years ago expressed his dislike of an assortment of international headlines on Hürriyet’s front page, – selected from prominent publications/newswires like The Associated Press, Reuters, The Washington Post, The New York Times and Le Monde – I wrote that Hürriyet should have quoted more serious publications like the Ulama Times, Wahhabi Daily News or the Observant (In Turkey, not even the trains run on time, Feb. 15, 2008). 

I also wrote: “As a columnist who felt a wholehearted responsibility to his employers... I wished to save my bosses from corporate consequences and commented that the [Islamic] headscarf must be allowed not only in universities, but also in kindergarten too.” Finally, I concluded with a warning note: “This columnist’s humble advice to Hürriyet’s publishers: Be wise, just do as I do and escape the corporate consequences” (I warned you, boss!, Feb. 25, 2009).

My warning fell on deaf ears and one fine morning our publishing group found a small ticket on its windshield to the tune of nearly $4 billion. At that time the company’s total market value was $2.5 billion. 

My 2008 prophecy for veils in the kindergarten has almost been fulfilled as the new primary education bill allows families to send their fourth-grade daughters to imam schools, although there are no female preachers in Islam. Also, fourth-grade girl students will be allowed to wear the headscarf during Quran/Islam classes in primary schools. And now there is more, according to a news story in Hürriyet. 

Under a bill drafted by the Environment and City Planning Ministry, shopping malls, corporate management buildings, wedding halls, cinemas, theaters, opera houses, museums, schools, hospitals, public buildings, ports and airports, hotels, university dormitories and metro stations must have a small mosque (masjid) and kindergarten on their premises if they wish to be granted building licenses. Finally, the mosque and the kindergarten have come together! 

For the benefit of the country I love perhaps I should refrain from prophesying and making distasteful jokes.

politics, racism,