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Beware Mass Media: The New York Times’s Coverage of Turkish Football and Politics is a Veritable Disaster

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The New York Times Looks to Portray Hakan Sukur as the Aggrieved Victim in His Upscale Cafe. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/03/sports/hakan-sukur.html

 

U.S. President Donald Trump has been much maligned for his criticism of mainstream news outlets like the New York Times; he has indeed repeatedly criticized them for being “fake news” and has described them as “failing”. Of course, as is to be expected, the main (lame)stream media—like CNN—have hit back at Mr. Trump’s criticism with columns like Brian Stelter’s; that this particular column should carry the heading “Reliable Sources” is almost as absurd as the name of the Soviet Union’s main newspaper, Pravda, which was translated as “True”. Interestingly, Mr. Stelter’s claim that the New York Times (NYT) is not failing is based on purely economic concerns; Fortune reports that Mr. Trump’s opposition to the NYT has only served to bolster the periodical, whose stock was trading at a nine year high as of July 2017. Reuters corroborates this claim, as the globalist news outlet reported profits of over 15 million dollars in the second quarter of 2017.

 

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Mr. Trump Tends to Criticize the New York Time’s Poor Reporting. Since Turkish Football is a Subject I Know A lot About, I Have To Agree Here. Image Courtesy Of: http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/02/media/new-york-times-president-trump/index.html

 

What is surprising is that CNN and Fortune do not seem to understand that the “success” of a news outlet is not defined in terms of profit; rather its success is defined by its service to the people. Norwegian-American Sociologist Thorstein Veblen pointed out long ago that the commercialization of both media and education would have negative consequences, since it would mean that both would write for profits and—by extension—for the interests of those who would be providing investment. Taken in these terms, it should be clear that the main (lame)stream media is most certainly failing; they are writing in the interests of the global capitalist elite, but not at all in the interests of the millions of middle and lower class citizens at large.

A recent piece in the New York Times—written by John Branch about famous Turkish footballer Hakan Sukur—is a perfect example of the failing New York Times and, indeed, the failing main(lame) stream media in general. The 3 May 2018 piece makes Mr. Sukur out to be an innocent refugee, escaping an “authoritarian regime”; it is a portrait of an immigrant “trying to build his own American dream for his family”. While this, of course, follows the pro-immigrant and pro-victim narrative of globalism, the truth is a bit more complicated than Mr. Branch admits (or, perhaps, even knows—after all, journalism in the modern era has become a refuge for surface level analyses which often lack knowledge of deeper details). While many of my fellow Sociologists mock “the American Dream”, it is interesting that the NYT is so eager to bring it up—especially when looking to legitimate a famous figure who is being described as an innocent victim.

The reality is that Mr. Sukur was once a close ally of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan—indeed, he eventually resigned from his position as an MP in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and came under attack from Mr. Erdogan himself, mainly because of his support for the shadowy Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. While it is likely that Mr. Sukur did not have full knowledge of Mr. Gulen’s plans for Turkey, his support for the cleric is undeniable. He was likely a pawn, whose celebrity status could be used in order to sway public opinion in Turkey (similar to the way Lebron James is used in the U.S.), but that does not excuse the New York Times’ atrocious reporting.

 

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A Bizarre Triangle…Mr. Erdogan (Left), Mr. Sukur (Center), and Mr. Gulen (Right). Image Courtesy Of: http://kaanil.blogcu.com/hakan-sukur-fethullah-gulen-le-ne-konustu/18008146

 

In Mr. Branch’s story, he seems to insinuate that the attempted coup of 15 July 2016 was a good thing (after all, authoritarian regimes are “bad” and need toppling). Please see the passage in question:

It was his [Mr. Sukur’s] first interview since he left Turkey in 2015, nearly a year before the 2016 deadly coup that tried, and failed, to topple the authoritarian regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former friend and political ally.

This kind of framing—a topic I have written about in the past—would lead the uninformed reader to believe that a coup deposing an “authoritarian” leader would be a “good” thing. Of course, this is far from the truth—a successful Gulenist coup in Turkey would have been disastrous. Still, this is the kind of shoddy reporting that has come to be the norm in the United States, a place where famous political commentators like Bill Maher openly call for coups to depose leaders they don’t like (such as Mr. Trump).

The most insidious passage—indeed, the most repulsive portion—of Mr. Branch’s reporting, however, comes in his description of Mr. Gulen’s Hizmet movement:

Gulen’s Hizmet movement has, for decades, infiltrated Turkey’s institutions with a moderate strain of Islam, trying to nudge the country from the inside toward democracy, education and cultural openness more associated with Europe than much of today’s Middle East.

I have bolded the most important parts since they are, in my mind, absurd. That the New York Times—one of the leading news providers in not only the United States, but the entire world—should describe a movement which attempted to subvert Turkish democracy by attempting a military coup as one which tried to “nudge the country toward democracy” is a gross misrepresentation of reality. The New York Times seems to think that they can shape public opinion by using catch phrases and catch words like “moderate Islam”, “cultural openness”, and “democracy” in order to shape public opinion. This is, very clearly, an egregious example of an attempt by the media to support a very dangerous man in the name of progressive politics.

Observers should be aware of the duplicitous nature of the globalist mass media which prefers to play on emotions rather than report on facts. Mr. Gulen is no democrat, nor is he a champion of any kind of Islam; rather, he is a capitalist who looks to transform Islam into one more amenable to capitalist ideals (as the sociologist Cihan Tugal masterfully explains in his book Passive Revolution: Absorbing the Islamic Challenge to Capitalism). That the New York Times would support a man who quite possibly ordered the bombing of his own nation’s parliament—and whose purported actions killed almost three hundred innocent people—as a supporter of “democracy” is both absurd and extremely troubling. For those of us who expect veracity from our news media—and despite the fact that ABC news thinks “The Colbert Report” is legitimate news (it is not)—this kind of reporting needs to be called out. It has no place in a country which prides itself on “freedom of the press”. We should all strive to take back our countries, and our free press, in the process.

 

 

 

 

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GalataSARAY In Ak SARAY: What It Might Mean

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Before Friday evening’s match in Ankara with Gençlerbirliği the Galatasaray football team became the first Turkish football club to visit the sprawling newly built Ak Saray palace. President Erdoğan’s palace has been criticized for many reasons, including its cost (estimated at 615 million USD but which has been, conveniently, kept secret), its size (President Erdoğan corrected critics by stating that the palace actually has more than 1,150 rooms—NPR missed this important fact), its location in the Atatürk Forestry Farm (AOÇ) (10,000 trees where uprooted, 3,000 chopped, and imported new trees—some costing up to 2,000 Euros—where planted but failed to thrive in the new ecosystem), and its overall extravagance which serves as a slap in the face to a country and its people where the average income is 10,972 US Dollars.

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Images Courtesy Of: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/12/24/370931835/turkeys-president-and-his-1-100-room-white-palace

Seemingly oblivious to the obvious connotations of such a visit Galatasaray’s board decided to accept the invitation to become the first football team to visit Mr. Erdoğan’s palace.

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Images Courtesy Of: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/futbol/173294/Galatasaray_dan__Kac-Ak_Saray_da_Erdogan_a_ziyaret.html

Of course such visits are normal in the United States where championship winning sports teams are invited to the White House. Such visits serve as tradition, and tend to be free of any political message. But then again, Turkey is a very different place than the United States, and reactions to the visit varied. Galatasaray’s vice President Abdürrahim Albayrak called the palace the “Sultanate Palace” and defended it, saying that critics where just “jealous”. Mr. Albayrak also presented Mr. Erdoğan with a Galatasary jersey complete with number 53, the license plate code of both men’s home province Rize.

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/foto/foto_spor/173538/9/Galatasaray_dan_Recep_Tayyip_Erdogan_a_ziyaret__FOTO_GALERi_.html

On the other hand one of the team’s board members, Selim Arda Üçer, responded to Mr. Albayrak’s comments during the visit via twitter with a post commemorating the 95th anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s visit to Ankara with the hashtag #27Aralik 1919 (27December1919).

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/futbol/173572/Galatasarayli_yoneticiden_Kemal_Ataturk_paylasimi.html

Similarly footballer Olcan Adın chose to take to Twitter and “like” a few Atatürk pictures while also hiding from the camera during his team’s photo shoot with the Turkish leader.

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Images Courtesy of: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/futbol/173537/Olcan_Adin_dan_Saltanat_Sarayi_nda__Kac-Ak__protesto.html

Even if Mr. Albayrak claims that the visit was mainly in order to bring to the president’s attention the problems with the metro leading to the Ali Sami Yen arena it seems that there may have been other motives that lie somewhere beneath the surface.

 

On December 17 Galatasaray President Duygun Yarsuvat made comments that shook the Turkish football world during an interview with Milliyet Newspaper’s Atilla Gökçe. According to Mr. Yarsuvat the match-fixing investigation that landed Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım in jail is linked to conservative cleric Fethullah Gülen:

“Fethullah (Gülen) grubu, Aziz Yıldırım’dan 50 milyon dolar istedi. Aziz Yıldırım da Fenerbahçe de bu parayı vermedi. Ondan sonra malum süreç başladı…. Henüz sonlanmayan bir süreç!”

“The Fethullah [Gülen] group asked Aziz Yıldırım for 50 million dollars and Aziz Yıldırım and Fenerbahçe didn’t give this money. That’s when the process started…a process that has yet to end!”

On December 25, 2014 former Turkish Police Chief Hanefi Avci, author of a book that outlines the links between Gülen and the Turkish Police force, spoke on Haber Turk TV about the match fixing case and underlined this connection:

“Aziz Yıldırım’a haksızlık yapıldı. Yapılan tüm operasyonlar cemaatin kontrolünde yapıldı. Aziz Yıldırım bir dönem NATO ihalelerini yöneten kişi olarak biliniyordu. Cemaat Aziz Yıldırım’ı buradan çıkarmak istiyordu. Cemaat organları Aziz Yıldırım’ı hedef gösteriyordu.”

“What was done to Aziz Yildirim was wrong. All the operations where made under the Cemaat’s control. Aziz Yildirim was known as the one who ran the NATO bidding [Industrial companies that Mr. Yildirim owns shares in took defense contracts for the Turkish Army and thereby NATO]. The Cemaat wanted to get Aziz Yıldırım out of here. The Cemaat showed Aziz Yıldırım as the target.”

The link between Mr. Gülen and Mr. Yıldırım has been posited before, most notably by Professor James M. Dorsey. At the time Mr. Yıldırım himself viewed the investigation as a struggle between Mr. Gülen and Mr. Erdoğan, since the latter is a Fenerbahçe fan who had stood up to the Gülen group’s attack on Fenerbahçe. Now, however, it seems like things may have changed; Sporx.com released a few pages from the match fixing case’s files on December 12 which described the Fenerbahçe fans who gathered outside the courthouse in support of Mr. Yıldırım during his hearings as “a group that calls themselves Fenerbahçe fans [but are] actually a group made up of provocative elements looking to create tension and violence in the community”. Mr. Dorsey also mentioned this possibility in his article:

In standing up for Mr. Yildirim, Mr. Erdogan hoped to garner support among millions of fans of Fenerbahce, the crown political jewel in Turkish soccer. Many of those fans however joined supporters of Istanbul arch rivals Besiktas JK and Galatasary SK in manning the front lines last June in mass anti-government demonstrations. Mr. Erdogan’s government has since sought to criminalize militant fan groups.”

While Mr. Gülen’s possible role in the events is indeed plausible, the fact that it has now been said by a member of the Galatasaray club is a notable development; it furthers the divide between Mr. Gülen and Fenerbahçe supporters and puts Mr. Erdoğan in a positive light, confirming him as one who was not against Fenerbahçe and Mr. Yıldırım. Therefore the invitation to Ak Saray may be some sort of a reward for the club and a move by President Erdoğan to ingratiate himself to Galatasaray supporters who support him politically as well. When taken in the context of the files obtained by Sporx.com and the government’s possible shifting view on Fenerbahçe and their fans post-Gezi, it might also be President Erdoğan’s attempt to consolidate his influence on one of Turkey’s leading clubs—Galatasaray—whose fans where divided during the Gezi events. With Beşiktaş’s fans staunchly in the opposition camp, and Fenerbahçe’s fans labeled as at least moving in that direction, perhaps it is Galatasaray that the Turkish leader is looking to gain popular support from for now. After all, falling foul of the football fans can have devastating consequences.

Notes From the çArşı Hearing of December 17 2014: A Shift in the Relationship Between Football and Politics in Turkey?

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On Wednesday December 17 the first hearing for 35 members of the Beşiktaş ultra group çArşı accused of attempting a coup started with one of the first mass gatherings of the government’s diverse opponents since the Gezi Protests of June 2013. In trying to finish çArşı off the government may have unwittingly re-ignited the flames of opposition; perhaps that is why the timing of the December 14 operation against opposition media outlets aligned with Fethullah Gülen is not a coincidence.

Outside the courthouse in Çağlayan fans came to support çArşı in a show of football supporter solidarity. Alongside the familiar left wing Ultra groups of Istanbul’s Fenerbahçe (Sol Açık) and Galatasaray (Tek Yumruk) were fans of Izmir’s famous Karşıyaka and Göztepe in addition to fans of the worker’s teams Kardemir Çelik Karabükspor and Adana Demirspor.

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(Image Courtesy of: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/spor/164211/cArsi_darbeye_karsi.html)

But football fans weren’t the only ones out on the streets; the family of Berkin Elvan, the anti-capitalist Muslims, and LBGT groups all came to show their support as well—as the writer Erk Acarer correctly notes, this is perhaps the first time such groups have come together since Gezi.

Inside the case had to be moved to a bigger courtroom in order to fit all the supporters who yelled the traditional Beşiktaş chant “Gücüne güç katmaya geldik, formanda ter olmayana geldik, Beşiktaş seninle ölmeye geldik…” (We came to add strength to your strength, we came to be sweat on your jerseys, we came to die with you Beşiktaş…). Indeed, the lawyers had Beşiktaş jerseys on as the accused met the judge with an eagle salute (a favorite of the fans). But what could those present say that hasn’t already been said? “Bu Dava Komik”—“This Case is Hilarious”.

As one writer says, the conversations between the judge and the accused are straight out of a Turkish film—perhaps out of the script of a C-Movie:

 

Evladım TOMA’yı ele geçirdik demişsiniz.

– Hâkim bey, o tarihte ehliyetim yoktu, bisiklete bile binemem ben.. (Koray)

 

– Barış sen Beşiktaşlısın değil mi, çArşı mensubu musun?

– Hayır Fenerbahçeliyim. (Barış)

 

– Örgüt lideri misin, azıcık da olsa darbeye yardım ettin mi?

– ÇArşı’da kimse kimseye emir vermez, biz darbeye de karşıyız, darbe gücümüz olsa Beşiktaş’ı şampiyon yapardık. Telefon kaydı üzerinden değil, somut şeyler üzerinden soru sorun. (Cem Y.)

 

Son apparently you said you took control of a TOMA [the infamous Turkish riot control vehicles].

-Your honor, I didn’t have a driver’s license at that time, I can’t even ride a bike. (Koray)

 

-Barış you’re a Beşiktaş fan right, are you a member of çArşı?

-No I’m a Fenerbahçe fan. (Barış)

 

-Are you the leader of the group, did you help the coup even a little?

-No one in çArşı can give orders to anyone else in çArşı, we are against coups; if we had the strength to start a coup we would make Beşiktaş champions [Indeed Beşiktaş haven’t won the title since 2009]. Don’t ask questions based on phone taps, ask questions based on concrete things. (Cem Y)

 

Aside form the tragicomic facts the truth is that the Turkish government may have miscalculated in regard to the çArşı case; the traditional relationship between football and politics has been turned on its head. In my own thesis I wrote about how the stadium had traditionally been a pressure-valve to release societal tensions within oppressive regimes. What happened in the stadium was controlled in the stadium, and it was better to allow people to vent in the controlled atmosphere of a ninety-minute soccer match. Cumhuriyet columnist Emre Kongar correctly points out this changing relationship in his column Fatima ve Çarşı (Fatima and Çarşı).

There is an old saying that Antonio de Oliveira Salazar ran fascist Portugal with the aid of the “Three Fs”: Futbol, Fatima, and Fado. [Mr. Kongar’s article refers to Spain’s fascist leader Franco as having ran the country with Football, Fiesta, and Fado but the true root of the Three F’s is Salazar’s Portugal; for more on the Three F’s in Portugal please see this external blog post and a French Wikipedia post on the “Triple F” since I unfortunately do not have my football literature with me in Turkey]. The basis of this cynical tactic is simple: to distract the people from the truth of living under an oppressive regime. The football part is simple: Benfica Lisbon had a very successful side in Europe during Salazar’s years. Fatima refers to Catholicism (Karl Marx’s old opiate of the masses) and a town in Portugal where the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared in 1917, while Fado refers to Portugal’s most famous music.

In Turkey it is no secret that the government has used religion and Islam in order to consolidate and mobilize their key supporters in rural Turkey. But football can be, in its own strange way, a religion itself. The sound of 30,000 people chanting in unison can be as powerful as watching pilgrims at a religious shrine; often fans view (and call) trips to historic stadiums like Old Trafford or the San Siro as veritable pilgrimages. And, as Mr. Kongar points out, it is an historic event when one of the “Three F”s—in this case football—transforms itself from being a vehicle for government control into being a vehicle for opposition to the government.

The attempt to silence çArşı was always going to be a dangerous game. As I have noted before, çArşı have done a lot in Turkey to move beyond just being an ultra group to being a real member of civil society. In a note released by çArşı the day of the trial they outlined all that they have done by invoking many literary images:

 

ÖNSÖZ: Kerem ile Aslı, Ferhat ile Şirin, Leylâ ile Mecnûn neyse bizim için BEŞİKTAŞ ile Çarşı da odur…

SONSÖZ: BEŞİKTAŞ

Prologue: What Kerem and Aslı, Ferhat and Şirin, Leyla and Mecnun are, for us that is what BEŞIKTAŞ and Çarşı are…

Epilogue: BEŞIKTAŞ

 

Here çArşı show their literary side, comparing their love for the team to the classic Turkish love stories of the past. And they continue, indirectly responding themselves to the “Three F” tactic:

“Düzen zaten istiyor ki, bir araya geldiğimiz sadece doksan dakikalık bir hayatımız olsun; bu süre zarfında sadece atılan gole sevinip yenilen gole üzülelim. Hayatımız doksan dakika içinde genleşip daralsın, orda başlayıp orda bitsin. Sahanın içinde olanlar dışında ‘görme, duyma, konuşma’ demek istiyorlar. O doksan dakikanın başlama vuruşuna kadar geçen zaman sanki hiç yaşanmamış gibi yok sayılsın. “Hadi şimdi dağılabilirsiniz! Unutun gitsin.” Öyle mi? Oysa bizim bir hayatımız varsa, bu hayat başkalarının hayatıyla mümkündür. Başkalarının hayatına sırt çevirenler, gözlerini kendinden olana çevirir; kendi oğullarını bir hanedan gibi görmenin dışına adım atamazlar. Futbolun insanlara yaydığı kolektif ruh, kolektif hâfıza kendimize dışarıdan bakma şansı verir bize. Bu bakış, insanî değerleri diri tutar. İnsanlığa yapılan yanlışları, kurulan kumpasları görünür kılar. Bizi, birbirimizden haberdar kılar. Haber niteliği olan durum ve olguları korkmadan, cesaretle halkın önüne taşıma sorumluluğu verir.

Bir araya geldiğimiz statlarda, salonlarda aleyhimize çalınan haksız penaltılara isyan edelim, çıkan haksız kırmızı kartlara isyan edelim, ama bu “milletin .mına koyacaz’ diyenlere yol veren düzene isyan etmeyelim! Öyle mi? Yoksul halk çocuklarının bayrağa sarılı tabutlarını unutalım? 12 yaşında vücudundan 13 kurşun çıkarılan çocukları unutalım? Kaşları Kartal kanadı olan Berkin’imizi, güzel yüzlü Ali İsmail’imizi unutalım? Öyle mi? İnsan, biraz da unutmadığı için, daha güzel bir dünyanın mümkün olduğunu hatırladığı için insan değil mi? İnsan, hayatın kanayan yerine baktığı için, sırtını dönmediği için çocuklarının yüzüne utanmadan bakabilir.”

“The system wants our lives to be just the ninety minutes that we come together, and during that time for us to only be happy for the goals scored and be sad for the goals conceded. Our lives should ebb and flow within the space of ninety minutes, our lives should start and end there. They want us to ‘see nothing, hear nothing, and speak nothing’ of the things happening off the field, as if the moments before the kickoff of those ninety minutes count for nothing. ‘Ok, you can go now! Nothing to see here, forget about it’. Is that how it is? But if we have a life, that life is made possible due to other people’s lives. Those who turn their backs on the lives of others, those who look only at those like them, they can’t take a step without looking at their own sons only as their personal dynasty. The collective spirit and collective memory spread by football gives us the chance to look at ourselves from outside. This perspective keeps humane values alive. This makes us look at the wrongs being done to humanity and plots being hatched. It makes us informed of one another. It gives us the responsibility to present news and facts to the people with courage and without fear.

In the stadiums that we come together in we should revolt against the unfair penalties called against us and revolt against the unfair red cards called against us; but we shouldn’t revolt against a system created by those that say “We’re going to F*ck this nation”! Is that how it is? We should forget the flag-wrapped coffins of the children of the impoverished? We should forget the twelve-year old children who have thirteen bullets taken out of their bodies? We should forget our Berkin and his eagle eyebrows, we should forget our Ali Ismail and his handsome face? Is that how it is? Isn’t what makes a person a person the fact that they don’t forget, that they remember that a better world is possible? Because a person can look at where the lifeblood flows without turning their backs, then a person can look at the faces of their children without shame.”

 

“. . . istiyorlar ki doksan dakikanın sonunda doksan gün ofsayt tartışalım, başka da hiç bir şeyi dert edinmeyelim.Statlar bir beşik gibi uykuya doğru sallayıp dursun bizi istiyorlar. Oysa maçlara ara verildiğinde hayat devam ediyordu ve yazın 45 derece sıcakta parke taşı döşeyen işçinin alın terinde kaldı aklımız… “Taşeronlaşmaya, Sendikasızlığa, Kuralsız Çalışmaya Hayır” dedik.

Sen demedin mi?

“ Mayıs: 1 Sermaye: 0 “

“… at the end of ninety minutes they want us to argue about offside for ninety days and not care about anything else. They want the stadiums to rock us to sleep like a cradle. But when there is a break in the matches [during the summer] life goes on and our mind stays with the workers sweating in the 45 degree summer heat laying cobblestones… we said ‘no to subcontracting, no to working without unions and rules’. Didn’t you say it? “May: 1 Capital: 0”.

[NOTE: The coffins wrapped in flags refers to martyred soldiers, Berkin and Ali Ismail refer to young men killed in clashes with police during protests, May:1 Capital: 0 refers to the May 1 Labor Day (Worker’s Holiday)].

 

Whatever the outcome of the çArşı case it is clear that we are witnessing a change in the way that football may come to be viewed by the government in Turkey. What that means, along with the plummeting attendances due to Passolig and poor performances by the national team, remains to be seen. But the fact that the government’s attack on çArşı and Beşiktaş brought such diverse groups back to the streets is still a victory.

 

The next hearing will be April 2, 2015.

 

Video of Turkish MPs supporting çArşı in parliament by wearing Besiktas colors:

CHP Kocaeli MP Mehmet Hilal Kaplan: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/video/video/163758/cArsi_atkisiyla_kursuye_cikti.html

CHP MP Melda Onur: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/foto/foto_galeri/163759/1/CHP_li_Melda_Onur_dan_cArsi_ya_destek.html

Fans Yelling Besiktas Slogans in the Courthouse Halls: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/video/video/163405/Taraftarlar_adliye_koridorunda_bu_sloganlari_atti.html

 

The Full Text (In Turkish) of the cArsi Note is Below, courtesy of: http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/163209/cArsi_dan_aciklama__La_biz_size_n_ettik_.html.

ÖNSÖZ: Kerem ile Aslı, Ferhat ile Şirin, Leylâ ile Mecnûn neyse bizim için BEŞİKTAŞ ile Çarşı da odur…

SONSÖZ: BEŞİKTAŞ

Bize: “Size ne?” diyorlar.

Yıllar önce Fok balıklarının katliamına isyan ettiğimizde güldüler bize. “Size ne?” dediler. Yerdiler bizi, ama bugün sıfatsızın biri çıktı ve size “Fok You !” dedi. O gün yanımızda olsaydın bugün “Fuck You !” diyor olacaktın, bunu unutma!

Düzen zaten istiyor ki, bir araya geldiğimiz sadece doksan dakikalık bir hayatımız olsun; bu süre zarfında sadece atılan gole sevinip yenilen gole üzülelim. Hayatımız doksan dakika içinde genleşip daralsın, orda başlayıp orda bitsin. Sahanın içinde olanlar dışında ‘görme, duyma, konuşma’ demek istiyorlar. O doksan dakikanın başlama vuruşuna kadar geçen zaman sanki hiç yaşanmamış gibi yok sayılsın. “Hadi şimdi dağılabilirsiniz! Unutun gitsin.” Öyle mi? Oysa bizim bir hayatımız varsa, bu hayat başkalarının hayatıyla mümkündür. Başkalarının hayatına sırt çevirenler, gözlerini kendinden olana çevirir; kendi oğullarını bir hanedan gibi görmenin dışına adım atamazlar. Futbolun insanlara yaydığı kolektif ruh, kolektif hâfıza kendimize dışarıdan bakma şansı verir bize. Bu bakış, insanî değerleri diri tutar. İnsanlığa yapılan yanlışları, kurulan kumpasları görünür kılar. Bizi, birbirimizden haberdar kılar. Haber niteliği olan durum ve olguları korkmadan, cesaretle halkın önüne taşıma sorumluluğu verir.

Bir araya geldiğimiz statlarda, salonlarda aleyhimize çalınan haksız penaltılara isyan edelim, çıkan haksız kırmızı kartlara isyan edelim, ama bu “milletin .mına koyacaz’ diyenlere yol veren düzene isyan etmeyelim! Öyle mi? Yoksul halk çocuklarının bayrağa sarılı tabutlarını unutalım? 12 yaşında vücudundan 13 kurşun çıkarılan çocukları unutalım? Kaşları Kartal kanadı olan Berkin’imizi, güzel yüzlü Ali İsmail’imizi unutalım? Öyle mi? İnsan, biraz da unutmadığı için, daha güzel bir dünyanın mümkün olduğunu hatırladığı için insan değil mi? İnsan, hayatın kanayan yerine baktığı için, sırtını dönmediği için çocuklarının yüzüne utanmadan bakabilir.

Rakibin haksız yere oyundan atılmasına olan isyanımız takdire şayan görülür, ama Trabzon’da doğa katliamı rönesansı HES’lere karşı isyanımız tu-kaka öyle mi?

Sporda Şike ve Teşvik söylentileri ayyuka ulaştığında “İtalya’dan futbolcu değil, savcı istiyoruz” dedik. Fena mi ettik? Kötü mü söyledik? İnsan neye ihtiyacı varsa onu istemez mi?

Plüton’a yapılan haksızlığa bile “oha” demişken hâlâ bize “Siz böyle şeylere kafa yormayın” diyorlar, ama bilmezler ki Plüton’u evlatlıktan atanlar bile bugün bin pişman.

İstiyoruz ki, içinde ülkemizin de yer aldığı dünya aynı akıbete uğramasın. Turizm Bakanlığı bütün dünyaya ülkemizin tam bir cennet olduğunu duyurmak isteyen tanıtımlar yapacak, ama biz “Kaz Dağı’nın üstü altından daha değerlidir” dediğimiz zaman hâkim kırmızı kartını bize gösterecek! Öyle mi?

“Yağmurdan korksak sokağa çıkmazdık.” O yüzden dile geldik;

“Siyanür Öldürür!”, “Ferhat da Dağları Deldi Ama Şirin İçin” dedik.

Bizleri doksan dakikanın içine hapsetmek isteyen o düzene Ali Sami Yen’den seslendik; Yıl 2011, “çArşı betona karşı”; “Ali Sami Yen Park Olsun, Şişli Hayat Bulsun”, “Rant Yapma Park Yap”

Gidemediğimiz maçta kulağımız radyoda, gözümüz televizyonda, aklımız Hasankeyf’te kaldı…

Hadi de bakalım şimdi ey zâlim; “Şirin bilseydi Munzur Çayı’nın gizemini Ferhat’ın hali nic’olurdu ?”

Ama yok, istiyorlar ki doksan dakikanın sonunda doksan gün ofsayt tartışalım, başka da hiç bir şeyi dert edinmeyelim.Statlar bir beşik gibi uykuya doğru sallayıp dursun bizi istiyorlar. Oysa maçlara ara verildiğinde hayat devam ediyordu ve yazın 45 derece sıcakta parke taşı döşeyen işçinin alın terinde kaldı aklımız… “Taşeronlaşmaya, Sendikasızlığa, Kuralsız Çalışmaya Hayır” dedik.

Sen demedin mi?

“ Mayıs: 1 Sermaye: 0 “

“çArşı Nükleer Santrallere Karşı”

“Sizin Nükleeriniz Varsa Bizim Metan Gazımız Var”

“Nükleersiz Türkiye”

“Karadeniz Kanserden ölmesin Ulan!”

Sanırsın ki atomu parçaladık da tanrı parçacığının peşine düştük… Oysa değil.

“Ses verin yakarışıma, bu işin sonu fukuşima” dedik o kadar…

“Terörün her türlüsüne hayır” dedik aklımız körpe kuzularda kaldı…

Çocuklarda kaldı aklımız;

“Alayınıza Sobe Ulan” “çArşı çocuk pornosuna karşı”

“çArşı Aile İçi Şiddete de Karşı”

Kışın evsizlerde kaldı aklımız “Donduk ulan!” dedik. Üst katta oturanları, alt kattakinden haberdar kılmaya çalıştık.

“Padişah değilim çeksem otursam

Saraylar kursam da asker yetirsem

Hediyem yoktur ki dosta götürsem

İki damla yaştan gayrı nem kaldı”

Aklımız vicdanımızda kaldı;

Kimsesizlerin kimsesi olmaya gayret ettik. Huzur evlerinde kaldı aklımız; evlat olduk, torun olduk, çiçek olduk, kucak bulduk. Aklımız Çocuk Esirgeme Kurumları’nda kaldı… Oyuncak olduk, palto olduk, bot olduk, kalem olduk, kederi silen silgi olduk, mutluluğa açacak olduk…Kıyıda, tenhada bırakılmış olanları hayatımızın ortasına davet ettik.

Aklımız sokak hayvanlarında kaldı…

“çArşı sokak hayvanlarına koşuyor”; 5 ton kuru/yaş mama, 5 bölgeye mamalık ve su depoları, yaklaşık 500 kulübe ve tıbbi müdahale için birçok ilaç … Ukrayna’daki köpek katliamına karşı da üç maymunu oynamadık.

Ah o çocuklar, yine o çocuklar… LÖSEV’e koştuk, kucaklaştık, umut götürdük onlara, “Bir tuğla da sen koyar mısın? ” dedik ve aklımız lösemili kardeşlerimizde kaldı…

Şimdi bizi yerin dibine gömmek istiyorlar.

Yahu, madenlere indik ki biz! Yeryüzü doksan dakika yukarıda değil ki bizim için. Yeryüzü her yerde:

“540 metrede röveşata! Bu da mı penaltı değil ?”

N’oldu ? Aklımız fikrimiz madenlerde kaldı…

“Ölümün taşeronları hiç mi doymayacak bu siyah kâra”

“Siyah Bile Kaybetmiş Asaletini Yokluğumuzun Karanlığında”

“Soma’nın en orta yerinde büyük bir yangın var alevler içinde”

Bizim de ayakkabımızın altı delikti, “Hrant” olduk. Acının üzerine hep birlikte kapaklandık.

Irkçılığa karşı olduk,”Hepimiz Zenciyiz” dedik.

Bize kapak takmak istediler, cevabımız “Kapakları Toplayalım Engelleri Aşalım” oldu. Sıradanlaşmış, kurumsallaşmış kutlama haftalarının dışında ihtiyacı olan yurttaşlarımıza 60’ı manüel, 4’ü akülü olmak üzere toplam 64 arabayı semtte sergiledik teslim ettik. “Bu da Çarşı’nın Koreografisi” dedik.

Aklımız ihtiyaç sahiplerinde kaldı.

Aklımız 8 Konteynır ve 1 tır malzeme ile “Sokağın TaVanı Kadar”

Akıl Van’da kaldı…Karada, karakışta kaldı.

Şirince’de ”Kıyamet Seninle Kopmaya Geldik”

La biz size n’ettik?

Bütün Türkiye’de Kızılay’a oluk olduk kan olduk aktık, ama bizim aklımız acil kan aranıyor çığlıklarında kaldı…

Aklımız hâlâ Filistinli Hanzala’da…

“Çocuklar Okusun” diye 10 günde 25 okula 25 kütüphane projesine destek verdik… Aklımız Kütüphanelerde kaldı…Kâğıtlara hürmet etmekten bir an geri durmadık.

“çArşı Köy Okullarına Koşuyor”

İki yılda isim isim 550 okul 20 binin üzerinde çocuğumuza bot, mont, atkı, bere, çanta, kıyafet, oyuncak, kırtasiye olduk olmasına da aklımız hâlâ köy okullarında…

Biz siporu seviyoruz sevmesine de, daha dün ses olduğumuz tiyatro yıkımlarına karşı bugün eski güreş hakeminin, zabıta müdürünün şehir tiyatrolarına sufle vereceğini tahmin etmemiştik. Bunca yağdanlığın, dalkavuğun gölgesinde ata sporuna işmar çakmayı nasıl unuturduk: “çArşı, yağsız güreşe de karşı” dedik.

Ulu Kartal, kimseleri darbecilere, terör örgütlerine methiyeler düzmek, yardım ve yataklık yapmak zorunda bırakmasın.

Vicdanınızla kalın!

Ex Footballer Hakan Şükür Again at the Center of Turkish Political News

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It feels as if former Galatasaray legend Hakan Şükür is making as much news in his retirement as he did in his playing days. In an article released in the Cumhuriyet daily on December 6 2014, Erdem Gül cites a new book– Adil Düzenden Havuz Düzenine-Yüzde On—written by Ahmet Dönmez who claims that, of all people, Hakan Şükür was indirectly warned about the December 17 graft operation six months before the scandal shook Turkey one year ago.

Although the Erdoğan led government claimed to have known nothing about the operation that uncovered 4.5 million dollars stashed in shoeboxes in the home of an ex-banker and that had links to the sons of many prominent AKP ministers and businessmen, the new information that has since come to light may say otherwise.

In the wake of the corruption scandal the AKP—predictably—did not suffer too much (the prosecutor dropped the investigation October 17) but the case opened a rift between the AKP government and erstwhile ally Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric living in self-imposed exile in the United States. Hakan Şükür, being close to the cleric, was the obvious choice to act as a liaison between the parties, and it is his role which may shed some light on the reason that the AKP did not suffer as much as many thought they would.

There have been claims that Turkey’s national intelligence agency, MIT, warned then Prime Minister Erdoğan about the corruption allegations ahead of time (last January Today’s Zaman said as much). Now Mr. Dönmez’s book supports this as well. Egemen Bağış, Turkey’s European Union Minister, allegedly spoke to Hakan Şükür before a pro Erdoğan rally during the Gezi protests on June 16, 2013:

“Herkes oradaydı. Erdoğan’ın anonsçusu Orhan Karakurt alana gelen milletvekili ve bakanları meydandaki partililere takdim ediyordu. O sırada AB Bakanı Egemen Bağış, İstanbul Mileltvekili Hakan Şükür’ü kolundan tutarak kenara çekti. (…) ‘Sana yeri gelmişken bir şey söyleyeceğim’ dedi. Şükür kulak kesilmişti. Bağış şöyle devam etti: ‘Ya Hakancığım, ortalıkta bir sürü şey dolaşıyor. Efendim, bakanlarla milletvekilleriyle ilgili birçok bilgi belge varmış. Bazı yolsuzluk belgeleri bulunuyormuş. Bak yarın bir gün bunlar ortaya çıkar, partiyle cemaatin arası bozulur. Bunu nasıl yapacağız? Bir şekilde Fethullah Hocaya ulaştırmak lazım. Çok konuşuluyor bu. Hatta bazı şerefsizler yapar bunu, cemaatin üzerine atarlar. Bunu engellemek lazım.’”

Kitapta Bağış’ın bu sözlerine Şükür’ün “Sayın Bakanım, ortaya çıkıp çıkmadığı, kim tarafından çıkarıldığı değil, bence böyle bir şeyin olup olmadığı önemli. İnşallah bu dedikodular doğru değildir, bu tür yolsuzluklar, belgeler yoktur” karşılığını verdiği belirtildi.

Everyone was there. At that point Erdoğan’s speaker Orhan Karakurt was introducing the ministers and parliament members to the party members that had come to the square. Mr Bağış took Hakan Şükür aside and said (…)“Now that we’re here I need to tell you something. Hakan, some things are floating around. Apparently there are lots of files about ministers and parliament members. Apparently there are some corruption files. Look, tomorrow or the next day this could come out and hurt the party and cemaat’s [Mr. Gülen’s supporters] relationship. How are we going to do this? We need to some how get this [news] to Fethullah Hoca. This is being talked about a lot. In fact some inglorious people could do this and blame it on the cemaat [Mr. Gulen’s supporters]. We need to prevent this.

The book says that Mr. Şükür replied by saying “Esteemed minister, its not important if these things come out or not, or who releases it, I think what is important is whether or not this happened. Inşallah these rumors aren’t true and that these types of corruption and files don’t exist.”

 

The Cumhuriyet newspaper reports that when reached for comment Mr. Şükür confirmed the story, saying that “. . . The MIT report came out eight months prior, they were probably trying to keep this [the corruption files] from coming out”. Mr. Bağış, on the other hand, refused comment but has told those close to him that “none of this [the reports] is true”. We will, of course, never know the full truth but it remains of interest that Mr. Şükür was seen as such a key player in the process. I wrote before how his joining the AKP was a coup for the party since he is an admittedly popular personage in Turkey due to his exploits on the field. Aside from that, his relationship to Mr. Gülen was another important factor that led to his rising to such a prominent place in the party. Now of course he has left the party in the wake of the rift between Mr. Erdoğan and Mr. Gülen, but the reverberations of his time in politics are still being felt.

 

Note: All Translations Are Mine, I Apologize In Advance For Any Errors.

Turkish PM Fires Another Salvo at Hakan Sukur on the Campaign Trail

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A few months ago I wrote about the political fortunes of Galatasaray legend Hakan Şükür. On July 17th Mr. Şükür was once again in the news, this time in the context of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s campaign for the presidency.

At a rally for Mr. Erdoğan’s presidential campaign in the Adapazarı district of Sakarya province (Mr. Şükür’s home town) there was an interesting poster serving as the backdrop of the stage from which Mr. Erdoğan was to speak. It was a picture taken most likely in parliament: Mr. Şükür wears a worried look with his hand on his forehead resembling a man who has shown up at an airport having forgotten his passport. The back of Mr. Erdoğan’s head is visible in the foreground, looking down on Mr. Şükür, who has a comment bubble above his head that reads “Abi ben Sakaryalıların yüzüne nasıl bakarım?”—“Brother, how will I look Sakaryans in the eye?”.

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This is, of course, a not so subtle strike at Mr. Şükür, a hometown hero to many Sakaryans as a man who made it out of provincial Turkey to play football at the highest levels in Italy, England, and at the World Cup. As has been Mr. Şükür’s custom, his reply came via twitter:

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Hırsızlığımız, arsızlığmız, yolsuzluğumuz yok. Sakaryalılarında, mılletimin de yüzüne bakarız çok şükür. Allah’ın yüzüne baka bilmek önemli.”

“We have no theft, insolence, or corruption. I can look Sakaryans and my country in the eye thankfully. It is important to be able to look Allah in the eye.”

While the ongoing rhetorical battle between the Prime Minister and ex-footballer is amusing, it also points to deeper issues within the Turkish political scene. Mr. Şükür is a former AKP member and supporter of the “cemaat”, led by preacher Fethullah Gülen, and that is the fissure that lies on the surface. Below that, however, is a Prime Minister that repeatedly resorts to the crudest of measures so as to prove his leadership abilities. When a leader campaigning to be the president of a nation resorts to tactics more befitting of a schoolyard bully—such as demeaning his fellow citizens (political opponents or not) –it does not bode well for the democratic future of that nation.

A Humbling Few Days For Former Turkish Soccer Great Hakan Şükür May Portend Further Moves by the Turkish Government

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Turkey is a country where if you expect the most absurd thing to happen…it may very well occur. The latest such event happened in Istanbul’s Sancaktepe neighborhood a few days ago on April 8th. The local soccer stadium—which up until then had been named “Sancaktepe Hakan Şükür Stadium”, after the footballer who is arguably Turkey’s most famous—is now just plain old “Sancaktepe Municipal Stadium”. Workers were sent to the stadium to take down the old lettering just days after the AKP’s victory in local elections (In English and Turkish). And, in further insult to injury, two days ago—April 13th 2014—Hakan Şükür’s name was also erased from the Esenyurt municipal stadium in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district (In Turkish). Now, how did we get here?

Even casual fans of European soccer will recognize Hakan Şükür’s name—after all, he was Turkey’s marquee player in the late 1990s and early 2000s, scoring 51 goals in 112 appearances for Turkey (One of those was the fastest goal in World Cup Finals history, a strike after just 10.8 seconds against South Korea). On the club level he was Galatasaray’s talismanic striker, finishing third in the European Golden Boot competition with an astounding 38 goals in 1996. After helping Galatasaray win the UEFA cup in 2000 (the only Turkish club success in Europe) he moved to Italian giants Inter Milan for a season and a half before a few unsuccessful stints with Parma and Blackburn Rovers. He returned to Galatasaray to see out his career, winning two league titles and a cup title before retiring at the end of the 2008 season.

After retirement from football Mr. Şükür decided to try his hand in yet another game—this time it was the game of Turkish politics. On June 18, 2011 he became an MP from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development party. This did not come as a surprise to his legions of fans; Mr. Şükür did not hide his piety during his playing days and some circles criticized him for creating a rift between religious players and non-religious players in the locker room during his final years at Galatasaray.

For a while this was a boon for the AKP, especially because many times people in Turkey choose to support political parties as they would a soccer team—fanatically and unquestioningly. His eminently recognizable name on the ballot no doubt helped bring in many new voters for the AKP. In the wake of the corruption scandal that rocked the AKP in December, however, Mr. Şükür chose to resign from the party on December 16, 2013 but still remain a member of parliament as an independent. It has been thought that he was under orders from the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen—Prime Minister Erdoğan’s backer-turned-enemy—who, from exile in the hills of Pennsylvania, has waged a war on the AKP by uncovering the corruption scandal through his vast network of supporters within the Turkish judiciary and domestic police force. Mr. Erdoğan responded by going on a witch-hunt of sorts, reorganizing domestic security forces and government offices in a bid to rid them of Gülenist supporters.

But the Prime Minister is now continuing his assault. In a move typical of his populist style of rule he has now taken on Mr. Şükür in the very arena he made his name in—sports. This is surely the simplest way to shame Mr. Şükür for abandoning the AKP, a well-played political move by Mr. Erdoğan which carries very little risk but could bring great reward in terms of political and social capital within Turkey. In fact, it is possible that Mr. Şükür was seen as a “soft target” following a few incidents involving him in the past weeks. After the AKP victory in the elections Mr. Şükür said that “we must respect the election results as a part of democracy”. The public responded by asking “When you left the party you were elected to you didn’t care about the public’s choices, did it just now come to your mind?” (In Turkish). Later, he was even attacked April 2nd 2014 at the funeral of a late Turkish soccer coach, where an unidentified man said “You betrayed our Prime Minister and our country!” before being dragged away (In Turkish). Such words show how closely many in Turkey identify with Mr. Erdoğan, and how they take any slights to him personally.

Mr. Şükür, for his part, seemed amused by the ridiculous nature of developments. Following the events at Sancaktepe stadium he tweeted to his 746,000 followers “Instead of having your picture on a wall, have your name heard in the world :)”. He followed this up with another tweet following the disappearance of his name at Esenyurt Stadium: “May no one forget: The most solid and final nameplate is your tombstone. And everyone lies beneath that stone not with their name, but with the account of their truth in servitude”(In Turkish). The religious underpinnings to this last tweet were, I can only assume, intentionally blatant.

Who knows what will happen in the coming days, but this much is certain—Prime Minister Erdoğan has started moving against his enemies, as he promised following his election victory when he announced that “they will pay”. Though this is a small step aimed at one former disciple, it would be fair to assume that more wide-ranging and concrete moves will be made in the coming months.

 

Note: All translations are mine.

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Hakan Şükür From Football (Image from: http://ball72.com/hakan-sukur.html) . . .

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To Politics (Image from: http://www.zaman.com.tr/_hakan-sukur-ak-partiden-istifa-etti_2184204.html)

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Workers were sent to the Sancaktepe stadium to take down the old lettering just days after the AKP’s victory in local elections (Image from: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/spor/futbol/26182417.asp)

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Esenyurt Stadium Before (Image from: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/26215754.asp) . . .

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And After (Image from: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/26215754.asp)