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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/SE, EUR/PD, NEA/PD, DRL
JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2008


In Today's Papers

Confusion Continues over Headscarf Reform in Turkey
All papers report that Monday, some universities allowed students
wearing the headscarf to enter campus, whereas other universities
made women remove their headscarves at the gate as usual.
University rectors say that, to prevent chaos at universities,
article 17 of the higher education law (YOK law) should be passed by
parliament without delay. The constitutional changes will be
submitted to President Gul for approval on Tuesday. Gul said
yesterday he would take into account the sensitivities of all parts
of society when he reviews the constitutional amendment, adding he
would consider the anxieties about headscarf reform. Gul noted he
hasn't made a final decision on the issue.

Government Spokesman Cemil Cicek said "Turkey has been debating the
headscarf issue for 40 years," and that "the government is open to
suggestions on how to implement the change." Cicek added "changes
to article 17 of the YOK law will be made after President Gul
approves the constitutional changes." Opposition CHP deputy group
Chief Suha Okay warned university rectors would be 'misusing their
authority' if they immediately allow students with headscarf in
universities.

Under the front page headline, "Turban is in Universities," the
leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says, "The Islamists couldn't even
wait for President Gul's approval to go to classes with their heads
covered." Liberal Radikal says "if the changes in the constitution
are deemed enough for ending the headscarf restrictions at
universities, then veil, chador or burqa, which are not openly
banned by laws, would also be free."

Editorial Commentary on Turban Debate
Rusen Cakir observed in mainstream Vatan (2/12): "There are immense
transformations taking place in Turkey. Leftists are moving toward
the right and conservatives are moving closer to universal
principles. However, these transformations have not been accepted
by the public. Professor Senatalar said 'public consensus can be
reached only by approaching a wider audience,' and I fully agree
with this observation. Unfortunately, there are no signs of such an
approach from the AKP government or from President Gul. The chaos
that started in the universities yesterday over the turban issue
will gradually increase. This chaos will not bring us to 'public
consensus.' On the contrary, it will increase divisions in public.
And, once again, the girls wearing the headscarf will be affected
negatively."

Ludwigshafen Fire Victims Buried in Gaziantep
All papers report the remains of nine Turkish nationals, including
five children, who were killed in a fire in the German city of
Ludwigshafen, have been flown to Turkey for burial in the
southeastern province of Gaziantep. Germany's Ambassador to Turkey
Eckart Cuntz joined the funeral and made a brief speech in Turkish.
Papers report a new eye witness has come forward, and this
development strengthens allegations that the fire was a deliberate
arson attack. The cause of the fire which swept through the old
apartment building on February 3 has yet to be determined, though
arson has not been ruled out. Meanwhile, mainstream Vatan says
while Germany was mourning the Turks killed in the fire, Prime
Minister Erdogan angered the German media with the nationalistic
messages he delivered during his address to Turks in Cologne over
the weekend.

Editorial Commentary on Turks Killed in Fire in Germany
Mehmet Yilmaz wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (2/12): "Even though
there is no concrete evidence as to whether the tragic fire in
Germany was a racist attack or not, funeral participants felt racist
groups were responsible for the fire. That is why, they say, German
officials attended the funeral. At the funerals, Christian, Jewish
and Muslim Religious Officials prayed for the lost lives. Prime

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Minister Erdogan and many Turkish politicians attended the funeral.
Moreover, PM Erdogan addressed 20,000 people in Cologne. Now, just
stop here for a second and glance to the recent past: Catholic
Priest Santoro was murdered in Trabzon in a racist-fundamentalist
attack, but no high-level Turkish officials attended his funeral.
Hrant Dink was killed in a similar type of attack. The PM went to
his house after the funeral to convey condolences to his wife. You
are free to guess why he didn't attend the funeral and why he
conveyed his condolence message behind closed doors. Turkish and
German Christians in Malatya were killed by a fundamentalist-racist
attack as well. No government officials attended their funerals
either. Just remember the picture in Germany and compare it with
the atmosphere in Turkey after these three brutal incidents. Some
tried to protect the Malatya attackers by saying 'those who were
murdered were missionaries,' some took family photos with the
murderers, and many made intentional mistakes during the
investigation. Just remember, all these murders took place in a
country where the word "tolerance" is used all the time!"

Hrant Dink Murder Trial
All papers report the trial of the gunman who killed Turkish
Armenian Hrant Dink and 18 other suspects continued in Istanbul.
Friends and supporters of Dink demanded justice at the third hearing
yesterday, waving banners that read "Justice for Hrant." "We
consider it a minimal requirement to bring about a ruling that
reaches all the people and organizations that are behind this case,"
they said in a statement. Last month, in a separate case named
"Ergenekon," police arrested extreme nationalists suspected of plots
to sow chaos in Turkey, and thus provoke a military takeover in
2009. Turkish papers believe the "Ergenekon" gang was also probably
behind Dink's murder. Joost Lagendijk, co-chairman of the EU-Turkey
Joint Parliamentary Assembly, said it was important that those who
masterminded Dink's killing should also be brought to justice. The
court is adjourned to February 25.

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- The DTP has lodged its preliminary arguments with the
Constitutional Court in the closure case against the pro-Kurdish
party. In 30 days, the Constitutional Court will send the chief
prosecutor's views to the DTP for the party to prepare its final
arguments. Over the course of the four months that will follow, the
Court will make a ruling.

- Turkish Statistics Institute says one quarter of recent male
university graduates and half of female graduates are unemployed.

- More than 15 million Turkish school students headed back to the
classrooms Monday at the end of their two week school recess.

International News

- Tom Lantos, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee,
died of cancer at the age of 80. Lantos supported the Armenian
genocide resolutions submitted to US Congress in 2005 and 2007.

- Turkish Cypriot 'Foreign Minister' Turgay Avci said ferry services
between Syria and Turkish Cyprus have been resumed.

- On Monday, tens of thousands of Iranians celebrated the 29th
anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Celebrations were
marked by anti-US and anti-Israel demonstrations.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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