Tag Archives: Turkey

Why Turkey’s Elections May Not Matter

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

30 March 2014

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Today, 52 million Turks cast their votes in local elections. Although the vote won’t affect the parliamentary majority of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the elections are perceived to be a popularity contest for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is mired in a major corruption scandal. Social media users have reported that they’ve never seen such long lines at polling stations. It is expected that these elections will witness the highest participation rates in any election in Turkish history. It seems like Turkey has a chance to change.

Supporters of Erdogan at an election rally, July 2007 (Photo by Ramdam / Wikimedia Commons)
Supporters of Prime Minister Erdogan at an election rally, July 2007 (Photo by Ramdam / Wikimedia Commons)

Some observers, including Al-Monitor columnist Mustafa Akyol, argue that Turkey’s local elections matter because they will act as a predictor for this summer’s presidential election in which Prime Minister Erdogan is expected to run. Today’s vote, observers say, will also help to predict the parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2015 (but may be held at the same time as the presidential election).

But several reasons might make today’s local elections and voting in general an irrelevant practice in the Turkish political context…

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Barın Kayaoğlu is finishing his doctorate in history at the University of Virginia. He was recently a Smith Richardson Foundation fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University. You can follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (Barın Kayaoğlu).

Can Nude Feminism Succeed in Turkey?

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

22 October 2013

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Originally founded in Ukraine in 2008 and now headquartered in Paris, the international women’s rights group FEMEN has opened a branch in Turkey. In order to publicize their opposition to what they call men’s “economic, cultural, and ideological oppression” of women, FEMEN activists stage nude protests in public and paint slogans on their naked bodies. Furthermore, given its atheism, the group has also attacked religious symbols and institutions.

Although FEMEN-Turkey is likely to face immense pressure from Turkish authorities because of the country’s restrictive laws on public morality, popular indifference is likely to be a bigger problem. It is fair to speculate that most women in Turkey will shy away from FEMEN because of its nudity. Conversely, most Turkish men, who have much to learn about women’s rights, are likely to miss the point and will focus on the sight of semi-naked women.

Turkey, of course, is no stranger to FEMEN activism…

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Barın Kayaoğlu is finishing his doctorate in history at the University of Virginia. He was recently a Smith Richardson Foundation fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University. You can follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (Barın Kayaoğlu).

Turkey’s First Online Halal Sex Shop Draws Ridicule and Criticism

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

22 October 2013

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During last week’s Islamic holiday, Turkish media outlets widely covered the allegations in the American press that Hakan Fidan, Turkey’s top spy, had shared secret U.S. and Israeli intelligence with Iran.

Then, an even more lurid story emerged: Three years after the “halal” online sex shop opened in the Netherlands, Turkey got its “halal” sex shop on the world wide web. (“Halal” refers to everything that is lawful and permitted in Islam.)

A quick browse through “Helal Sex Shop” shows a modest interface, an affordable range of products (that is, nothing too kinky), and, of course, separate entrances to the site for men and women. The e-halal-sex-store also offers a few advice columns for those who want to enjoy the pleasures of this world without jeopardizing their chances for the next.

But reactions on social media, as well as the coverage and commentaries in the news media, have been stranger than the e-store itself.

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Barın Kayaoğlu is finishing his doctorate in history at the University of Virginia. He was recently a Smith Richardson Foundation fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University. You can follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (Barın Kayaoğlu).

Did Turkey Just Let a Chinese Trojan Horse into NATO?

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

17 October 2013

The Turkish government’s recent decision to award its high-altitude missile defense contract to China conjured images of the residents of Troy rejoicing the large, Greek-made wooden horse at the end of the Trojan Wars. That story did not have a pleasant end for the Trojans. It is not clear how this one will play out for Ankara and its NATO allies.

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Barın Kayaoğlu is finishing his doctorate in history at the University of Virginia. He was recently a Smith Richardson Foundation fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University. You can follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (Barın Kayaoğlu).

Turkish Stadiums Become Political Battlegrounds

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

6 October 2013

When the Turkish premier football league (Süper Lig) started last month, many observers expected to see a contest beside sports – one that would pit football fans (“soccer,” as our North American readers like to call it) against the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

But the games this past weekend proved once again that the political contest in Turkey’s stadiums will involve multiple sides – not just a gesture match between pro- and anti-AKP fans.

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Barın Kayaoğlu is finishing his doctorate in history at the University of Virginia. He was recently a Smith Richardson Foundation fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University. You can follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (Barın Kayaoğlu).