‘More freedom of opinion in Turkey’, I read in a newspaper. If only that were true. Another newspaper was more accurate, their headline said: Turkey changes article 301. The changes that have been made to the article that was misused many times to shut up writers, journalists and publishers for ‘insulting Turkishness’, will probably only change the prosecutors strategies in suing people who express their opinions about ongoing taboos, like the history of Armenians in Anatolia and the Kurdish question. From now on, 301 will be used less, and other articles will be used more – for more details, read an article I wrote about this earlier.
The situation is more or less comparible to the constitutional changes that were made not too long ago to allow women to wear a headscarf at university. Does it really mean that women become more free to express their religion, or will their freedom again be reduced in other ways? Probably the last: if the change of the constitution is not cancelled by the Constitutional Court, then practical rules will be introduced on how to exactly wrap the scarf around the head to get admittance to the campus.
Still, I can not be only negative. Even though it’s all not enough, at least there has been a lot of debate about these issues, and the debates will definitely go on. That makes people think about freedom of speech and freedom of religion again and again. Which might, in the long run, lead to less polarisation and more tolerance between people, and in the end that is what is really needed to expand freedoms.
“Why does Iran have a country”? Hasn’t Persia been prtety much a unified country for 2600 years? (as opposed to parvenus like Saudi Arabia and Iraq). Westerners love to draw lines on maps and divide some people up and lump others together. That’s how the Brits created a lot of the woe in the Middle East, and particularly in Iraq.