It’s Russia, Russia, Russia when it comes to ‘foreign gay news’ these days. But it’s a much bigger and badder gay world out there.
Although the video footage of gays being tormented by Russian Nazis is mainstream news, worse footage from Jamaica is failing to attract anything like the same attention. The Jamaican situation is getting so bad, with the government doing nothing about what seems to be a wave of murders and violent attacks, that the veteran, exiled gay leader Maurice Tomlinson is on the verge of calling for economic sanctions.
Should Tomlinson call for sanctions — and get support from the organised Jamaican LGBT community — I wonder if that will break through and get anything approaching the attention Russia has? I have to say I’m cynical.
Jamaica, however, does get at least some attention but there have been three recent stories which leapt out at me and I think deserve at least some coverage (as opposed to none) because they obviously qualify as serious news.
LGBT activism now ‘terrorism’ in Belarus
Iran criminalises homosexual identity
Turkey writes LGBT into draft constitution
Turkish police cordoned off Gezi Park and Taksim Square in central Istanbul after retaking it from protesters overnight as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan planned a mass rally of supporters in the city.
Clashes with anti-government protesters, who had set up a community of tents to occupy the park, extended into the early morning as police fired tear gas and water cannon to drive them out. Hundreds of municipal workers were today dismantling and removing tents and banners from the park, which became the center of turmoil that’s rocked Turkey since protests spread nationwide after May 31. Crowds gathered in Ankara, Izmir and other cities last night in support of the Taksim demonstrators, television footage showed.
The protests had begun in Gezi over plans to redevelop the park, and broadened into a wider movement targeting Erdogan’s government when images emerged of police tear-gassing a small group of demonstrators there. Security forces were stationed in every corner of the roads to Taksim today, gas masks and tear gas guns in hand. A municipal worker who said he’d been working to clean the park since late the previous evening collapsed into a chair and said the park would be closed to the public until order was restored, without saying how long that would be.
Adnan Oktar continues to evolve his operation, polishing his presentation and exploits the same television production techniques one usually sees in, say, a Rupert Murdoch operation. PRI’s The World contributor Matthew Brunwasser picks up the latest:
Turkey’s Islamic creationist guru Adnan Oktar is a regular fixture on his TV channel A9 – for hours and hours, day after day. Today, as he often does, Oktar is talking about one of his many exhibitions of fossils that he says disproves evolution.
Oktar and his cult-like organization have been in the Turkish media space for decades. But only last year did he deploy his new weapon in the battle against Darwinism.
A flock of ostensibly attractive, curvy young women. The “kittens,” as he calls them, call him “master” and generally guffaw at the right moments and nod their heads in agreement with whatever he says.
Some of the women have their own programs in which they also “debunk” evolution, among other things.
Listen to the whole audio report:
To get an idea of what these television presenters of Oktar’s are like, here’s a group shot of some of the “kittens” of creationism (hmmm… that sounds like a name of a girl-band), courtesy of Turkish twitter user ebru_altan:
Tweets by @ebru_altan_
Indeed. When Oktar and his voluptuous Ed McMahons aren’t trying to rid the world of Darwinism and radical Islam, they have fun too. Like when they “dance” to the latest hits, without getting out of their chairs.
“Indeed” indeed - here is an example from last fall:
If you’re interested in the current roster of
pin-ups creationist proponents, you can check them out on Oktar’s own network site, but I’ve taken a screen capture of their current “Other Talk Programs” hosts:
Who knew creationism could be so sexy?
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Turkey’s four biggest cities on Sunday and clashed with riot police firing tear gas on the third day of the fiercest anti-government demonstrations in years.
The din of car horns and residents banging pots and pans from balconies in support of the protests resonated across neighborhoods in Istanbul and Ankara late into the night, as hundreds of demonstrators skirmished with riot police.
Roads around Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s office in Istanbul were sealed off as police fired tear gas to push back protesters, and police raided a shopping complex in the centre of the capital Ankara where they believed demonstrators were sheltering, detaining several hundred.
Erdogan blamed the main secular opposition party for inciting the crowds, whom he called “a few looters”, and said the protests were aimed at depriving his ruling AK Party of votes as elections begin next year.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler said there had been more than 200 demonstrations in 67 cities around the country, according to the Hurriyet newspaper.
The unrest erupted on Friday when trees were torn down at a park in Istanbul’s main Taksim Square under government plans to redevelop the area, but widened into a broad show of defiance against the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Riot police pulled out from Taksim’s Gezi Park on Saturday afternoon, taking away barricades and allowing in tens of thousands of protesters in an apparent move to end tensions from two days of anti-government protests.
Some protesters hurled objects at withdrawing officers and police vehicles, prompting officers to fire several rounds of tear gas to push back the crowds and resumed pulling out of Taksim Square.
The state-run Anatolia Agency said the protesters threw fireworks at police.
Earlier, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on demonstrators to end their protest, but remained defiant. He said the government would press ahead with the redevelopment plans at Taksim that sparked the demonstrations.
Tensions were still high until afternoon as police deployed tear gas and pressurized water against groups of protesters trying to reach the central İstanbul square early on Saturday.
The protest grew out of anger at police’s heavy-handed tactics to break up a peaceful sit-in to protect a park in Taksim Square on Friday. It turned into a wider protest and spread to other Turkish cities. Dozens have been injured in the scuffles.
After a day of clashes with police, demonstrators in Turkey’s largest city on Saturday were finally allowed to stream into a public square that had spurred the unrest.
A peaceful sit-in on Friday against government plans to demolish a park was met with a police crackdown, igniting the biggest anti-government riots this city has seen in a decade.
The clashes subsided Saturday afternoon, when police allowed protesters to pour into the square.
Protests spread to several other cities, including the capital Ankara and the port city of Izmir.
At least 14 people were injured in the clashes in Istanbul, including one who suffered brain trauma, the Istanbul governor’s office said.
NATO approved their deployment to Turkey in December
Jordan, which shares borders with war-torn Syria, said on Sunday it is in talks with “friendly countries” to deploy Patriot missiles on its territory after a similar move by Turkey.
“Jordan wishes to deploy Patriot missile batteries in order to boost its defence capabilities and help protect the country,” Information Minister Mohammad Momani told a news conference.
“We are currently at the stage of talks with friendly states,” said Momani, who is also government spokesman, declining to elaborate.
A NATO source told AFP last week that four batteries of Patriot missiles have arrived in Turkey as part of a mission by the alliance to protect the Turkish border from any spillover of the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
NATO approved their deployment in December, saying the use of ballistic missiles by the Syrian regime posed a threat to Turkey.
Jordan, home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees, has similar concerns as Turkey.
A Kurdish party leader says rebels have started to move out of Turkey to bases in northern Iraq, a key stage in the peace process with the Turkish government.
The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, declared a cease-fire in March and agreed to a gradual retreat from Turkish territory as part of peace efforts aimed at ending a nearly three-decade-old conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.
A London-based monthly art publication is sounding an alarm regarding a recent Turkish court ruling that clears the way for the conversion of a 13th-century Byzantine church-turned-museum back into a mosque (the church was first converted into a mosque by Sultan Mehmed II in 1462). Turkish scholars & archeologists aren’t happy. Added emphasis is mine:
One of the most important monuments of late Byzantium, the 13th-century Church of Hagia Sophia in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, which is now a museum, will be converted into a mosque, after a legal battle that has dramatic implications for other major historical sites in Turkey. Many in Turkey believe that the Church of Hagia Sophia is a stalking horse for the possible re-conversion of its more famous namesake in Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia Museum (Ayasofya Müzesi).
For around 50 years, responsibility for the Church of Hagia Sophia in Trabzon has rested with Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The courts now accept the claim made by the General Directorate of Pious Foundations, the government body responsible for most of the country’s historical mosques, that this has been an “illegal occupation”. The court has ruled that Hagia Sophia is an inalienable part of the foundation of Sultan Mehmed II who first turned the church into a mosque after his conquest of the Empire of Trebizond in 1462.
“A building covenanted as a mosque cannot be used for any other purpose,” says Mazhar Yildirimhan, the head of the directorate’s office in Trabzon. He declined to speculate on whether this would mean covering up nearly half the wall space taken up with figurative Christian art, including the dome depicting a dynamic Christ Pantocrator. “There are modern techniques for masking the walls,” he says. […]