Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pope Signs In With Peace At Home Quote

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 03 December 2006

Tuesday 28 November, the Pope arrived in Turkey. Following his meeting with PM Erdoğan at Ankara's Esenboğa airport, Pope Benedict's first stop in Turkey was the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The Pope prayed after laying a wreath. While writing a message in a guest book at Anıtkabir, in line with protocol, the Pope chose to quote Atatürk:
"In this land, a meeting point of different religions and cultures and a bridge between Asia and Europe, I gladly make my own the words of the founder of the Turkish Republic: "Peace at home, peace in the world!"

He later went to see Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeus and together they reportedly made a statement warning against secularism. Religion and politics - it's a funny old game.

Tony Blair has called for religious leaders to sanction the use of condoms especially within communities battling the AIDS epidemic. Some religious leaders have called for politicians to stop meddling in religion. However, religious leaders do seem to vent opinions on political matters, such as whetehr Turkey should join the EU. It's a funy old game.

In addition, I'm sure I've heard mention in the media of the debate between evolutionism and creationism, bubbling under the surface in such countries as USA, the UK and Turkey.

Good luck everyone - peace at home, peace in the world!

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 03 December 2006

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pride And Prejudice And Niggas

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 13 November 2006

Letter to Eddie Mair, BBC Radio 4, The PM show

Dear Eddie,

Re: the controversy around the the new play Pride and Prejudice and Niggas:
We're having a smal editorial

One thinks of the rhyme "Sticks and stones may break my bones etc"'s just a word. Of course, our current social mind set finds many reasons to conclude there is offence in many words. One of the latest paintings by NPP is called The Rude Word Painting, you can view it at:
It's not finished yet, but is an interesting exercise painting the rudest English words for a non-English speaking country. As written at the bottom of the painting: If you can't read English, you may like the colours - it's a colourful language.

15 or more years ago our resident NPP artist was emplyed as a DJ at The Marquee Club in Soho and he recalls a record from US musical group Niggers With Attitude titled Straight Outta Compton. They abreviated their name to NWA and so one solution might be to abreviate Pride and Prejudice and Niggas to PPN. Back then, even among liberal music business circles, there was much debate among critics for and against the group's name and their musical artform. Apparently we're still debating the same issues. There must be a company willing to sponsor the play's posters since it's been mentioned on BBC Radio 4's PM programme and few plays get that kind of start.
The BBC and the UK continue to allow public debate on sensitive issues. This latest episode is on a par with the ridiculous remarks recently made by the BNP. I don't require censorship to judge what is and is not appropriate for my own consumption. I know NPP (Ned Pamphilon Productions) have often undertaken painting projects with children and they are apparently far more pragmatic about rude words than many adults. Let's all remain free to educate and make up our own minds.

Peace @ Home, Peace in the World!

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 13 November 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Turkiye 10 November 2006

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 12 October 2006

Islam is a wicked, vicious faith and illiberal atheists are undermining Britain's religious heritage. These sentiments were expressed by BNP leader Nick Griffin and Dr John Sentamu, The Archbishop of York as reported within the British media this past week:

So what? Let them say what ever they want! This is part and parcel of the package called freedom of speech. An individuals faith is an individuals business. Allah is never going to be concerned by such none sense opinion anymore than God is going to lose sleep over atheists. As Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst system devised by the wit of man, except for all the others.”

Human beings can be wicked and vicious, not religion. However, British Home Secretary John Reid, Gordon Brown and the Lord Falconer are now considering whether race hate laws should be revised after a jury decided speeches by Mr Griffin and party activist Mark Collett in 2004 had not incited racial hatred.

Lib Dem MP Evan Harris said tighter laws could create "extremist martyrs" and argued there were "enough laws to deal with speech which actually incites to violence or other criminal offences, or which uses threatening language."
He added, "There must be room in a free society to allow even offensive criticism of religions and their followers."

It is surely the individuals right to decide for themselves and restricting these, however nonsensical opinions, will merely serve to drive negatives under ground where they may manifest into far less publicly manageable issues. We must keep public debate public for all our sakes. If you like, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Mind you, there is also the entertainment factor - these opinions can be so ridiculous they are, indeed, laughable!

In the same week international British musician Sir Elton John has called for all organised religion to be banned; that it lacks compassion and turns people into "hateful lemmings."

10 November marked the 68th anniversary of the death of Kemal Mustafa Atatürk, a solider and statesman who addressed the issue of religion and state government over half a century ago. Even Churchill, who experienced among his darkest hours at Galipolli as Ataturk defeated the Allied Forces attempt to divide the Turkish nation:
"Atatürk's death is not only a loss for the country, but for Europe is the greatest loss, he who saved Turkey in the war and who revived a new the Turkish nation after the war. The sincere tears shed after him by all classes of people is nothing other than an appropriate manifestation to this great hero and modern Turkey's Ata."

The religiously inclined Turkish government appear to side line Atatürk while the wider world remains largely oblivious to him ever existing. He laid out a set of values and principles that remain relevant to the global issues of 2006. The Turkish Daily News published a brief summary of his legacy:

After a not guilty verdict for Mr Griffin, he said: "What has just happened shows Tony Blair and the government toadies at the BBC that they can take our taxes but they cannot take our hearts, they cannot take our tongues and they cannot take our freedom."

Perhaps Mr. Griffin, but if you came to power I wonder how much freedom we would then be left with?

While The Archbishop of York calls for Christians to be more politically active to ensure their principles are not purged from society. Well Archbishop, your organisation certainly has centuries of experience in the art of purging. Why do so many "religious" people feel God is so powerless that that human agents are required to maintain the required moral discipline on earth? Earlier this week Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor launched a joint attack on what they called intolerant public atheism. In their foreword to Doing God: A Future for Faith in the Public Square, a report by new religious think tank Theos, they argued against limiting religion to the private sphere. They said campaigners against religion in public life had an "intolerant faith position."

The mind boggles! No wonder the military are time and again voted the most trusted organisation in Turkiye according the Turkish people. Will the EU ever understand the dynamics of Turkiye? Today it looks unlikely.

The speeches by BNP respresentatives were secretly filmed in a BBC documentary, The Secret Agent, broadcast a year earlier. In a statement, the BBC said its job was to bring matters of public interest to general attention. "In this case the matters raised in The Secret Agent were seen by a large section of the public and caused widespread concern," it read.

Perhaps Rupert Murdoch and Ahmet Ertegun could take a leaf from the BBC's book as they restructure Turkish channel TGRT. They are already creating a Woman's Channel, most apt for a nation where Atatürk gave women the right to vote before most EU nations. Perhaps a BBC type model could be considered as a welcome addition for public debate with the Republic of Turkiye.
Just a thought and in the meantime, here's raising a toast to you Atatürk Türkiye? Türkiyeah!

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 12 October 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Oh Those Frenchies

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 12 October 2006

There are troubles afoot again for Turkey in the French camp. Lawmakers in the French National Assembly are to debate a bill set to make it a criminal offence to deny the alleged genocide of Armenians. The implication is that an EU member could be imprisoned for expressing their viewpoint. If Turkey is to be condemned for genocide, what about the British, the Americans, the Chinese and numerous other cases? Where do we stop?

At least WEMW can try to inform you what happened to the Ottoman Armenians :

Here's a link to the Wikipedia :

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 12 October 2006

Friday, September 29, 2006

The New Mid-East Map

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 29 September 2006

The New Anatolian printed a US colonel's vision for a "new" Mideast map which includes Turkey relinquishing eastern territory to "Kurdistan".
See the article :
plus see the map :

It would mean Mount Agrı (Ararat) would no longer be within Turkish borders. When Atatürk founded the Turkish Republic, he did so declaring "no more, no less" with regards to Turkish land territory.

The contoversial map was first published by former US Army official Ralph Peters in the unofficial Armed Forces magazine

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 29 September 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Religion In Turkish Politics

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 24 September 2006

These articles in the Turkish Daily News present a basic outline of the relationship between religious sects and politics in Turkey :
Relations between religious orders and big politics
Spiritual path to money, politics and worldly power

It perhaps illustrates why the concept of secular Turkey is questionable and the prospect of Turkey joining the EU is far from a done deal.

In addition to that, the same newspaper runs the following story from Australia :
Costello’s praise of Atatürk sparks Australian Muslims reaction

Indeed, Ataturk's secular legacy is under threat from the left, right and centre. In fact, it seems foreigners are often more open to praise the principles of Ataturk than Turks.

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 24 September 2006

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Pope's Own Life Of Brian

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 17 September 2006

Back in 1979's British comedy team Monty Python produced the film Life of Brian. It caused an uproar among conservative religious communities who interpreted it as an afront to Jesus Christ. Now the Pope has inadvertently upset Muslims throughout the world with an academic speech given at his old university.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, joining a global chorus of Muslim protest, said Pope Benedict should withdraw the "ugly" comments he made about Islam ( see The Turkish Daily News ). Over recent days we have seen familiar scenes on our TV screens of angry mobs burning effigies and shouting down the Pope in the oh so unenlightened manner to which we have come accustomed. Sometimes, one suspects any excuse to burn and shout is welcome.

The offending quote by Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus was "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Here you can read it all and make up your own mind - find key excerpts from the speech and the Pope's speech in full.

Emperor Manuel II was based in Hagia Sofya when Constantinople was then the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The irony is Atatürk and Turkey addressed these fundamental constitutional concerns decades before. Indeed, in 1935 Atatürk declared Hagia Sofya a museum and flagstone symbol of Turkey's new secular constitution. As US actor Sean Penn pointed out this week on CNN's Larry King Live, today's constitutional dilemmas are so often centred around the separation of church and state.

Again, WEMW asks why PM Erdoğan does not utilise the legacy of Atatürk to lead his Muslim nation in an intelligent way forward regarding religion and state politics? After all, it was Atatürk's secular republic that enabled a simit seller from Istanbul's Kasımpaşa district to become the Prime Minister of the country; an unlikely event under the previous religious Ottoman Caliphate regime. I guess PM Erdoğan sees things a little differently and prefers the route of aligning minarets with bayonets. Oh dear, what a pity it all is.

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 17 September 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Secular Versus Theocratic Turkey

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 28 August 2006

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy published this article by Soner Çağaptay :
It prompted the following response from Yusuf Kanlı, the editor of the Turkish Daily News :

This was followed by a Letter to the Editor, Turkish Daily News 27 August 2006 from Mr. Egemen Bağış, member of Turkish Parliament and foreign policy adviser to the Prime Minister :
Criticism of Turkey is inconsistent, off the mark.

Soner Çağaptay (in his article "Islamists in charge", published in the Wall Street Journal on Aug.18 which referred to in the TDN on Aug. 25) seems to be on a spell where outrageous allegations are a writer's last hope for fame.

We are the same Justice and Development Party (AKP) about which he testified on May 11, 2005, before the U.S. House Committee on International Relations: "Since the AKP's rise to power in November 2002, most analysts have been wondering whether the government formed by a party with an Islamist pedigree would erode the two qualities that make Turkey unique, namely the country's democratic and secular regime. We have found that Turkish democracy and secularism are both very strong."

Furthermore, the people of Turkey are the same secular and Western-minded people about whom he clearly wrote for on Nov.4, 2004: "Europe needs Turkey precisely for these reasons. With its young, secular-minded population, the Turkish democracy offers a solution to Europe's twin dilemmas, an aging population and a restless immigrant community of mostly Arab, radical Muslims whose numbers are growing exponentially. For its own sake, the EU needs to bring Ankara into the union."

Amid the recent escalation in the Middle East, where radicalism has cheerfully recruited new millions, Turkey and the AKP still shine as a bastion of moderation, progress and prosperity. Nowadays Turkey's secular republican democracy and its democratically elected AKP should be appreciated around the clock. Turkey is always a friend of its friends, and is still on the path of the European Union membership. Despite all the noise, we are determined to ensure the harmony of civilizations against the ever heightened risk of the clash of civilizations.

The Middle east and Eurasia have one model: a revolutionary Islamic republic and parties like Hezbollah. The alternative model is Turkey and its AKP. The choice has never been this stark.

Egemen Bağış, a member of Turkish Parliament and foreign policy adviser to the Prime Minister.

At WEMW we ask ourselves why Mr. Bağış appears to turn to insult by suggesting "outrageous allegations are a writer's last hope for fame"? Mr. Bağış, turn the other cheek my dear chap! Surely, being only friendly to your friends is not the most diplomatic path to take; try offering an olive branch to your critics. Perhaps Mr. Çağaptay has merely changed his mind about the AKP. Does it warrant such a defensive reaction?

At WEMW we also ask ourselves, does this mean Mr. Bağış and PM Ergoğan are publicly denouncing Hezbollah on behalf of the AKP? Does the AKP have to compare itself to "terrorist" listed Hezbollah in order to present the AKP's relative moderate stance?

It seems quite obvious that Turkish society is becoming more religiously conservative, one only has to walk in the streets of Istanbul to observe there are more headscarves than 5-10 years ago. The world seems to be caught between secular and theocratic constitutions, whether Iranian or American. Unfortunately for Turkey, Ataturk's secular notions probably go against the grain of both the Islamic and Christine doctrines of Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, George W. Bush and the Pope.

Why is Atatürk currently consistently over looked by the current Turkish government, particualarly with regard to the on going EU negotiations? Churchill is presented as part of British national history regardless of whether he was a perfect character or not. It is not desirable to see any leader made into an iconic myth whether Atatürk or the Queen, but these are characters of our history and the AKP does appear to side-line Atatürk, presumeably to appease their theoctatic power base and financial support. Is the AKP's power based on a lack of political opposition or genuine popular majority support? Time will tell.

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 28 August 2006

Saturday, August 12, 2006

NPP Used For New Yesim Salkim Video

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 12 August 2006

NPP were asked to supply a painting for inclusion within Turkish singer Yeşim Salkım's new music video. The chosen painting was Turkish Figures I as shown here.......

We wish Ms. Salkım best wishes and invite you to explore her further via :
Of course they were going to send NPP a copy of the video - we are still waiting!

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 12 August 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006

Istanbul Theatre Festival Use Rainbow Image

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 07 August 2006

There is an Istanbul Theatre Festival running Aug 06-16 2006, apparently organised by Istanbul City Theatre's Director Nurullah Tuncer and another chap named Mehmet Acarca.

I found an article at : and was surprised to find the use of the 6 colour "gay" rainbow flag imagery. The symbol of peace is normally considered to be the 7 colours of rainbow. NPP have been proposing the Rainbow Bridge peace project to the Turkish authorities but were informed by an adviser to the Turkish Prime Minister the Rainbow Bridge project will never be realised under this AKP government primarily because of the controversial symbolic association with "gay San Francisco" imagery. Therefore, we are interested to see the theatre festival using the theme of peace with the rainbow colours regardless of whether there are 6 or 7 colours.

Mr. Tuncer and or Mr. Acarca, please contact NPP. We would welcome your future collaborative support for both our projects.

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 07 August 2006

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Freedom - Exactly What Is It?

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 29 July 2006

Writer Perihan Mağden has recently been acquitted of "trying to deter Turkish citizens from military service". She had written an article defending the right of concientious objectors against mandatory military service. A judge concluded her not guilty of a crime against the state since her words could only be characterised as "harsh criticism."

Currently best selling Turkish author Elif Şafak is also facing legal action for "insulting Turkishness" with her novel Bab ve Piç (Father and Bastard). She faces up to 3 years in prison under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. She will probably be found not guilty because the EU would view such a charge as incompatible with EU membership. However, it again illustrates the mind set prevailing in Turkey, though one must be aware the complaint is being sought by ultra-nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz. The same lawyer is charging novelist Orhan Pamuk of a crime against the state. Pamuk is said to have accused the Turkish nation of genocide following an interview with a Swiss newspaper last year in which he is quoted as saying "30,000 Kurds and 1,000,000 Armenians were killed on these lands and nobody but me dares talk about it."

It does seem apparent that many died on Turkish soil around the time of the 1st World War, but it also seems apparent that Armenia has been successful in lobbying her claims and accusations against Turkey while the Turks are yet again left lagging behind in the the tactical field of public relations. Turkey denies state involvement of an organised genocide but admits large numbers of Armenians died of starvation and disease during the period in question.

On top of this your WEMW correspondent also noticed this week that in the eastern Turkish province of Van, the local district municipality has implemented segregated swimming and picnic areas around Lake Van for women. This is the home region of Education Minister Hüseyin Çelik who is pro-imam hatip religious schooling. Apparently 7m high barriers were erected at the request of several women seeking a private and segregated area. Van is known as a particularly conservative province with alleged fundamentalist Islamic orders enjoying the support of a local public majority. Of course, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan is an ex-imam hatip student and also supports the reintroduction of Islamic religious teaching within schools. Atatürk established a secular system seperating state education and politics from religion. What Atatürk would make of today's events one can only imagine and how traditional conservative Turkey can be incorporated into the EU's policy of democratic freedom of expression one can only ponder, wait and see; and I haven't even mentioned the matter of honour killings yet - the mind boggles!

Is the AKP government's only interest in EU membership the implication that it will reduce the power of the military and, therefore, lesson the strength of the secular constitution's guarantors? Nah, that's just conspiracy theory none sense - isn't it?! Indeed, is one man's freedom of expression another's fear?

Among the most significant developments in Turkey this week, may well be the acquisition of TV channel TGRT by News International boss Rupert Murdoch and Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ergegun. Mr. Ertegun once contacted NPP to lend congratulations for Ned Pamphilon's paintings, so we at WEMW keenly watch and await further developments in this part of the modern world.

Monday, July 17, 2006

PM's Least Favourite Cartoonist Awarded

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 17 July 2006

PM's least favourite cartoonist gets Freedom of Press Award. PM Erdoğan had previously sued cartoonist Musa Kart for this image.......

Penguen Magazine subsequently published a front page cover featuring 8 animal caricatures of the PM in support of the original cartoonist. You could read the background at but this link seems to have disappeared. So try instead.
Will the PM ever learn to be tolerant or at least intelligent enough to realise that legal action and attempts to censor expression merely creates a greater spotlight for the "offending" images? After all, this PM should be acutely aware of the need for freedom of expression since he was imprisoned for publicly reciting an Islamic poem including the lines:
"The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers..."

.......more love, peace and understanding from religious commentators eh!

Back in 1984 British pop group Frankie Goes To Hollywood received invaluable media attention when their single Relax was banned by the BBC for indecent lyrical suggestion. Of course Relax went onto become a No:1 hit for weeks.

Now it is the duty of WEMW to publish the cartoons of the PM so the public can better appreciate the mentality of the PM, his advisers and the prevailing attitude of authorities in Turkey.

While discussing the recent Prophet Mohammad cartoon controversy, a Muslim Turk and close associate of NPP commented that we in the West never produced cartoons about Jesus. Of course, we laughed because Jesus and the Bible have been the brunt end of endless jokes. One need only point to Monty Python's The Life of Brian as an example of the West coming to terms with satirical humour about spiritual belief.

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 17 July 2006

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Protest Against Mayor Gokcek Using Ataturk

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 12 July 2006

We awoke yesterday to the story of a staue of Atatürk being removed from the Kızılay district in the Turkish capital Ankara. Apparently, architect-sculptor Ragip Çeçen wanted to publicly demonstrate against Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek for alleged failure to pay outstanding fees for work done. Aided by 6 frineds, the architect installed a 2.5m high statue of Atatürk at dawn while the attention of the police was focussed on a seperate demonstartion in another part of the town. The statue had to be removed by the Ankara Municipality using a crane. The sculpture depicted Atatürk pointing a finger and would be seen as a symbolic gesture pointing to the mayor's lack of commitment to the principles of Atatürk; Mayor Göçek is a member of the AKP government, an administration widely assumed to be less than enamoured with the legacy of Atatürk.
The next day we wake to find media debate over how appropriate is to use the image of Atatürk for personal demonstration and there is a photo of Mayor Gökçek describing the act of misusing Atatürk as ugly.
In addition to this bizarre story, the daily headlines report that AKP deputy Mr. Eyüp Ayar has been ordered to pay a fine of 5,000TL (approx. $3,200) for insulting Erkan Mumcu, leader of opposition party The Motherland Party (ANAVATAN), one of the opposition parties. The offending words were "You sly dog you" during a parlimentary debate. Also, Sabah newspaper have been fined 10,000TL for publicly humiliating Denis Baykal (Republican People's Party) by accusing him of hiding his financial assets. One really wonders if these politicians don't have anything better to do?

No wonder the most part of 70 million people continue to struggle on while the politicians debate their personal attributes and keep lawyers in fees.

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 12 July 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

Rock Against Everything for Peace

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 10 July 2006

Representatives of NPP visited the Barışarock-Rock for peace HQ in Istanbul last week to offer the inclusion of the Rainbow Bridge peace concept with their festival. NPP had spotted an article in The New Anatolian newspaper featuring the rainbow colours and aligning them with peace.
The article said the festival was sponsored by Coca-Cola which surprised NPP since it had been assumed Barışarock had been initiated as an antithesis to such corporate brands as Coca-Cola. Indeed, it seems there must have been a misunderstanding or misprint in the newspaper because Barışarock representatives denied any association with Coca-Cola and even reject any offer of sponsorship from Coca-Cola or any other corporate party.

Further more, they are against using the national slogan Peace at Home, Peace in the World because Ataturk was a soldier of war and they associate the national 'peace' slogan with nationalism and nationalist parties in Turkey.

NPP came away from the meeting concluding how confused a country Turkey is. Surely the concept of peace must invlove embracement, tolerance and compromise; not be anti-everything. Unfortunately, peace means different things to different people and as the years have passed, NPP has been forced to realise how naive and unrealistic the concept of Rainbow Bridge is.

Barışarock did offer NPP to promote the Rainbow Bridge concept at the festival, but the over whelming feeling of anti-establishment and aligning Ataturk with negative right-ring nationalism left a depressing, sad and uncomfortable taste in the mouth.

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 10 July 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Turkey, Food Production & The EU

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 07 July 2006

In Turkey, 45% of the country is involved in the agricultural sector, but according to EU regulations this must be reduced to 15%. How is that going to happen and doesn't it seem ridiculous?

Currently, the Turkish Prime Minister is having trouble with the hazelnut producers. One of his closest advisers, Cüneyd Zapsu, has business interests in hazelnut processing. In the late 1980s, he became the chairman of the Association of Hazelnut Exporters. As he further expanded his own business, Zapsu also became the chairman of the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, which brings together representatives of hazelnut producers from some 50 countries. Subsequently, accusations of personal interest over and above the national and public interest have been publicly voiced, see:

This may lead us to the wider subject matter of food production and abstract questions such as how do companies like Coke and Red Bull make so much money from American coloured sugar water and sugared caffine overdose? Because the public apparently want it, buy it and that's democracy.

Nuts innit?! But, nothing we can do but publish a blog! Nuts oh hazelnuts - Cadbury's take them and then cover them chocolate!

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 07 July 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Same Old Rhetoric & Faces In Turkey

An open letter to
Mr. Kanli Yusuf
Turkish Daily News

Dear Sir,

having just glanced through we read the following:

"Early elections would bring relief." Mehmet Agar, Leader DYP

Isn't it blatantly obvious the next election will merely give the AKP another mandate to govern Turkey? Unless there is something going on the public is not privy to (of course someone somewhere always has a hidden agenda), there appears to be no substantial opposition in Turkish politics, just as there has been no substantial opposition in British politics for the last 10 years.
Why do politicians insist on nonsensical rhetoric? Why does the media insist on publishing it? Why does the public continue to swallow it?
Because, that's what politicians do, that's what the media does and the public tends to eventually consume whatever it is given.

It seems the same old faces run Turkish politics and Turkish football (it's important, 1/6 of the world watching the World Cup this month) and incredibly, there are even more of the same old faces waiting to come around yet again.

And then we read:

"Nobody has the right to attack religious and cultural values of societies. All freedoms have a limit. You cannot have unlimited freedoms, there has never been unlimited freedom of expression in history"
This is a quote from Turkish Prime Minister Tayiip Erdogan in an address to Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as reported by The Turkish Daily News.

Surely, this matter was addressed by Turkey's founding father years ago when he stated:

"Freedom consists of man's ability to do what he thinks and desires without any influence or intervention by others. This is the broadest definition of the concept. Mankind has never attained liberty to this extent and never will because as is known, men are creations of nature and nature itself is not absolutely free either; it is subject to universal laws."
Ataturk c.1930

Maybe it's just the humid weather, but I am so bored, so incredibly bored with the same old mind set, same old games, same old rhetoric. I don't suppose it will change in the short term and why does one even bother to voice another little drop in the vast ocean of opinions? Then again, I don't suppose my opinion is any less ridiculous than those we read today.

I can only ask, please, the public of the Turkish Republic, think about who you are supporting and who you will next vote for to run your country. I know, I may be having a proverbial wee wee in the proverbial wind, but I can still hope; can't I?

Good luck Turkiye! From what we read, you need it.

Best wishes, Arther C. Withernee
Correspondent for NPP

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

English Artist Risks Trial

This article is about an English artist depicting Prime Minister Erdogan as a dog. It is copied and pasted directly from The Turkish Daily News. Thank goodness no has drawn Erdogan with his underpants outside his trousers as they did with British PM Major or with Mrs. Thatcher's testicles!
Turkish prosecutors are investigating an English artist for exhibiting a collage that depicts Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a dog receiving a prize in a pet show from U.S. President George W. Bush.
Michael Dickinson, a long-time resident of Istanbul, displayed the collage in March without permission from the organizers of an Istanbul show dedicated to peace along with other 'authorized' works themed mostly on Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and opposition to the war in Iraq.
"It came to me in a flash. I thought, 'Damn the consequences, I must put that picture up'," Dickinson told Agence France-Presse.
After the curator of the exhibit was charged with "insulting the dignity of the prime minister," Dickinson wrote to the court claiming responsibility and is now himself being investigated on the same charges.
If indicted, he will stand trial and risk one to three years in jail. The British art movement Stuckism, to which Dickinson belongs, condemned the probe as an "intolerable" repression of freedom of expression in a country seeking to join the European Union. It also wrote to Blair, asking him to put pressure on the Turkish authorities to drop the case. Last year, Erdogan sued a newspaper for publishing a cartoon depicting him as a cat. He later sued a humour magazine that protested against the lawsuit by running a cover depicting the prime minister as a variety of animals. The lawsuits prompted critics to question Erdogan's declared commitment to freedom of expression.

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 14 June 2006

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Image Of Modern Turkey

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silva are in Turkey for a week. It’s the first visit by a Swedish monarch in over 70 years. In 1934 , the King's Grandfather, Crown Prince Adolf VI Gustaf visited and met with Ataturk.

Queen Silva was received at a lunch hosted by Turkish Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc’s wife Munevver and attended by the PM’s wife Emine Erdogan and the Foreign Minister’s wife Hayrunnisa Gul as well as the wives of other ministers and deputies.

The photo caption in the The New Anatolian was:
“Headscarved welcome for Swedish Queen Silva.”
So, from Ataturk's vision back in 1923, this is the image of the modern Turkish Republic in 2006.

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 01 June 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

We Love Sofi

Hagia Sofya should be a mosque again?

Oh Turkey, but I guess it's the same for many nations where political wrangling upsets the market place while the everyday bod in the street gets by one way or another. Why should anyone be surprised? This is where East meets West; where cultures mix, clash and collaborate. This is a country where secular principles were laid down to help manage those clashes and collaborations; not easy within today's level of the world human psyche.
This is a country where a political party is free to declare a proposal that Hagia Sofya be returned to the status of a working mosque; whose cultural capital Istanbul is still called Constantinople by Greeks. No doubt there may be deep lingering feelings of many kinds in Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Bulgaria. That's 7 countries bordering Turkiye, let alone the EU, the USA, Asia and beyond. No wonder Turkey so often gets a bad press. And there is Ataturk, the man who tried to seperate religion from politics. Do either the USA or Iran want that?

Well, at least in Istanbul, this yabanci (foreigner) feels free to believe in whatever he chooses.

I have an artist friend of whom I never know if he'll be miserable or elated or calm. But, he's usually good for a passing quote on life, love and the above:

"Paintin's like football - you gotta score! Score a goal like scoring a sale at the right price. That keeps all the punters happy and allows my business to be creative. When we're creative, people get employed and paid. All the punters like a good score.
Whatever I feel about the creative process, it is like religion - it's my business! Not yours, not the next door neighbour's, not the Pope's nor Bush, Blair, Godfathers, Bishops, Imans, Vicars nor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran or Castro in Cuba. If I have profound spiritual experiences or if I feel nothing at all - it's my business! The secular constitution alows me at least that freedom - it leaves your personal business as your own and private business. "

Snowy Sofi 1995

It is interesting to note that the man calling for Hagia Sofya to be returned to mosque status was former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. He was recently found guilty of embezzling state funds and sentenced to prison. A recent proposal has been voiced within Turkish political circles to abolish the immunity of members of parliament with regard to corruption, yet the proposal has been either sidelined or denied by the current ruling body. The current government changed the law to allow Erbakan to serve his prison sentence at home; old age and ill health cited as the justifications. The former PM was healthy enough and at liberty to give a public speech over the past weekend. During the 1990’s when Erbakan came to power, he also generated debate regarding the building of a mosque in Taksim Square. This proposal was also supported by current PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan while he was Mayor of Istanbul.

We love Hagia Sofya at WEMW; or Sofi, as NPP refer to her. If the Muslim makes her a mosque, then maybe the Christian will consider reclaiming her for Byzantine times gone by and where will it all stop? Surely a museum has been an excellent solution where all races and religions can visit and marvel at one of the wonders of the world.

Sofi? She's beautiful just as she is!

Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 31 May 2006