Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's not about the trees; it's about freedom in Turkey


One of the more amazing world leaders of the 20th century is not as well known around the world as he ought to be.  Indeed, this is surprising because what he did in his home country was remarkable.

The person's name was Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938).

Please click on this link:

He is considered a national hero by many Turks these days, although some of the things he did were controversial

Basically, Ataturk decided that Turkey was at a cross-roads.  In the future Turkey could become a 'western' country and embrace modernization and western economic development, or Turkey could function as a type of Islamic theocracy (as Iran is today).  Ataturk worked hard to make sure that Turkey became 'westernized' and he established the groundwork for the economic development of his country and attempted to align Turkey more with the West and not as much with the Middle East.

This meant that in recent history Turks enjoyed an immense amount of freedom.  It is an Islamic country, but not a country where the Islamists control the thoughts or behavior of its people.  Contemporary Turks often pride themselves on being open-minded and tolerant people.

Slowly but surely, however, many Turks feel that Erdogan (their current leader) has been taking away the rights of Turks.  Journalists and artists have been arrested for speaking freely and recently a law was even passed making it illegal for people to drink alcohol after 10pm.  Slowly but surely many people in Turkey feel that Erdogan has been intruding into the daily lives of Turks and many 'secular' Turks feel that he is trying to turn Turkey into an "Islamic Republic" like Iran.

During the last election, a little more than half the Turks voted for Erdogan and about half voted against him.  Therefore the country of Turkey is quite divided politically.  It seems that Erdogan has a great amount of power and feels safe in making changes to Turkey because the economy is strong now.  The recent protests, however, show that many Turks feel they have been pushed too far.

Here is the article (The article I chose is called: Is This A Turkish Spring?):

(I don't think you can call this a Turkish 'spring' because Erdogan was elected to be the leader of the country through fair elections.  Perhaps, however, he has learned a lesson from this incident and he will not try to be as forceful as he was becoming.)

Vocabulary from the introduction:

remarkable - if someone or something is remarkable, it stands out; it is special.

controversial - a controversial topic or person is something or someone that people like to argue about.

a cross-roads - a place and time where change can occur.  If you are at a cross-roads in your life, you have to make decisions about what your life will be like in the future.  Your decisions will take you along some roads and you will not take other available roads.

theocracy - a government run according to religious principles.

groundwork - a basis for something, a solid beginning for something.  You can build something on top of a groundwork.

to align with, to become aligned with - to become allies or friends with.  If one country becomes aligned with another, they begin to cooperate.  Many NATO countries aligned themselves with the USA for the war on terror, but did not align themselves with the USA in the war against Iraq.

to embrace - to accept

immense - huge, large

contemporary - right now

tolerant - accepting of differences of others

to intrude in - to get involved in someone's business or life without them wanting you to.  To be intrusive...

secular - non-religious

to be pushed too far - if a person is pushed too far, this means he/she never wanted to fight, but things have gotten worse and worse and now the person feels he/she has to fight.  i.e.  You pushed me too far this time!  I quit!

Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL bookNew York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
If you like art, you might like my new blog about artists who show their work in New York City:
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia awhile ago. :P


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