When they took two steps forward, they would immediately take one step back. This is, of course, quite a slow way of walking, slower than a group who take one step forward at a time. The walking style of the Janissaries makes the whole process slower.
I believe the advancement of minority rights in Turkey resembles the slow march of the Janissaries. There are, of course, so many positive developments happening in the country, but these positive developments have limitations; they are shadowed by very well known “nasty” reactions that aim to expel non-Muslims from this country.
What made me think of this? I recently read two interesting pieces of news related to citizens of Greek descent in Turkey. One is hopeful; the other is like a nightmare.
First, the good news. After decades we have the first Rum (Anatolian Greek) radio station, Iho Tis Polis (ITP, or “Echo of the City”) broadcasting from İstanbul. ITP started out broadcasting from its website http://radio.ihotispolis.com. Andreas Rombopulos, founder of the station, told Bianet that they now have 5,000 listeners from 58 different countries, ranging from South Africa to Canada, in addition to, of course, Turkey and Greece.
ITP is on air 24 hours a day, and five times daily broadcasts news related to the Rum community in Turkey. Rombopulos states that ITP has received thousands and thousands of messages from enthusiastic listeners all over the world. This radio station is, of course, quite a hopeful development, indicating that the whole atmosphere in Turkey is changing and that non-Muslims are starting to see a future for themselves in Turkey once more.
Well, if this development makes me quite hopeful, another story makes me sick and pessimistic again. Lets read it from Bianet:
“It has been reported that upon an incident whereby a Rum citizen intended to buy property in Gökçeada (Imbros) however encountered problems about it, measures concerning Gökçeada and Bozcaada (Tenedos) have been removed upon the Ministry of Interior letter of 09.01.2012 with no: 14899.
“Attorney Erhan Pekçe who follows up the process highlighted the petition of the Legal Advisor’s Office at Directorate General of Title Deed and Cadastre which contained the following statement: ‘There are National Security Council decisions, inter-ministerial protocols and many administrative regulations concerning Gökçeada and Bozcaada.’
“It all began when Attorney Pekçe witnessed an engaged couple from Gökçeada applying title deed directorate to buy a property.
“A Young woman’s father wanted to buy a property for the young couple so that they could build a house on it in the future and he also wanted to register it in the name of his daughter. However he was told that it would take years because they were Rum but if the property was to be registered in the name of the young man than the procedures would be completed in a short time.
“The legislative process has begun after Pekçe, who heard about the matter by coincidence, visited the title deed Office. Pekçe explains as follows what he has observed in the title deed office: ‘They said when a Rum citizen applies we refer him to Regional Directorate which then refers them to Foreigners Department, to National Intelligence. This process sometimes takes even two years and sometimes they are rejected. We have related documents for that. Two applicants were rejected for example’… Erhan Pekçe filed a lawsuit at the Bursa Administrative Court to have the decision lifted and to receive a reply. This time, the First Legal Counsellor of the Directorate General for Title Deed and Cadastre in Ankara sent a note to the court referring to the law on acquisition of property by foreigners… Pekçe, who won the case, stated that Rums were citizens of the Republic of Turkey.
“The lawsuit won by Pekçe at the local court is now pending appeal.”
You see, old habits die hard, in spite of so many hopeful developments. I really hope that we will put this Janissary walk aside and give full rights to our non-Muslim citizens soon. To find a little consolation, I am now giving my full attention to the wonderful music of Iho Tis Polis emanating from my computer.