Commentary by Professor Mahmut Esat Ozan  
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Mahmut Ozan
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Professor Mahmut Esat Ozan has been the rare, tireless voice in the United States, putting up his dukes in the sea of Turcophobes for many years. Here is a commentary that appeared somewhere on the Internet.

Prof. Ozan's column is followed by "Swedes Side with Kurds, Banning Turkish"

 
SWEDES, THE OLD AND THE NEW AND THE DOUBLE STANDARDS IN EUROPE'S TREATMENT OF TURKS

WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO? IS TURKEY BECOMING EVERYONE'S MUTUAL ENEMY?

ITEM-The European Union Parliament adopted a resolution which called on EU-candidate Turkey to "create basis of compromise in the face of Armenian "genocide" accusations, during its General Assembly meeting recently. The resolution was introduced as part of a caucus report, prepared by a Swedish member of the Parliament, Per Gahrton. In its decision, the EU asked Turkey to take steps in line with its desire to become a European Union member. The Swedish member of the EU Parliament, Per Gahrton, said that the resolution should also recall the previous 1987 EU decision which had recognized the Armenian genocide and had also called upon Turkey to recognize it.

ITEM- Even though it is simply a Turkish domestic judicial matter, in which EU has no right to interfere, the same Swedish member of the Parliament, Per Gahrton, is of the opinion that Turkey could advance in its EU membership process only if it respects basic human rights and fully implements the Copenhagen criteria regarding the HADEP investigation case, the Kurdish-affiliated Peoples Democracy Party.

ITEM- A book written by a former Consul General to Turkey, Kaj Falkmen, entitled "Sweden and Turkey" whose preface was prepared by the present Prime Minister of Sweden and approved by the current Swedish Ambassador to Turkey, has caused quite a stir in the Turkish capital Ankara. This publication, which is also sanctioned by the "Swedish Institute" is replete with scurrilous misinformation and out and out lies claiming that the Ottoman Turks had massacred 1.5 million Armenians. The accusations and claims are totally false and are refuted by the Turkish government. In view of the fact that neither the Swedish Government nor their representatives in Ankara have seen it fit to offer an apology or to give an explanation of how such an enormous gaffe could have been made, and could have gone without an attempt to rectify it, seems to be beyond comprehension.

ITEM- Sweden's Sivan Perwer,(Artist and Musician), and Swedish citizen and Kurdish linguist and scholar of literature, Mehmet Emin Bozarslan, placed their names alongside other obscure scientists such as:Fettah Timar (teacher of Kurdish Language, Chairman of Komkar,Germany), Danielle Mitterrand, (Chairperson of the Foundation France Liberte, France) the Dutch Historian , Dr. Martin van Bruinessen, (Lecturer on Cultures of the Orient,) Dr. Phil Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, (Linguist and Lecturer, University Roskilde, Danemark,) Victor Boll, (Scholar of Literature and Director of the Heinrich Boll Archive,Germany, are apparently determined to have the Turkish Republic amend its constitution and accept the Kurdish language as a teaching tool in their curriculum, in order to eliminate the measures taken by the Turkish government.

 


This is not a selective example of the double standard Swedes demonstrate once in a while . It is in fact part of and parcel a daily antipathy displayed toward the Turks. It is rather painful to admit but the Swedes mistreat quite often the Turkish minorities living and working in their country. Most Swedish people, with the omission of a few, are willingly siding with the detractors of Turks.

The Swedish writers are no exception to this rule. A day does not go by that a nasty attack is not read on the highly unfair Turcophobic Swedish press. When a Kurdish father killed his daughter, to cleanse the honor of the family, because of the daughter's association with a non-Muslim young man, every Swedish newspaper and periodical had a field-day concerning the event, even a high-ranking member of the Swedish royal family attended the funeral. The Swedish Press started writing ugly diatribes against the Turks without investigating the ethnic heritage of the father. The "backward, uncivilized" Turks, and their "antiquated social customs" were on the headlines for days, because the Kurdish perpetrator of the crime and his whole family had entered Sweden and were given political asylum, by the Swedish government. They were carrying the passport of the Republic of Turkey, the country from which he and his family were escaping.

We Turks take pride in being tolerant and basically fair people. Therefore, I would be remiss if I did not mention a gentleman from Sweden and his nice letter he sent to me a few months ago when I had written an editorial on the 'Turkish Forum' entitled: " TURKS SMELL A 'RAT' IN ARARAT". The day after the article was distributed I received the following civilized message from a Per Landgren. Apparently Mr. Landgren was an exception to the rule we mentioned earlier. He had given another positive answer to Dr.Kaya Buyukataman's question the day before.

Notwithstanding the highly negative resolutions passed by the Swedish Parliament and an anti-Turkish Media throughout Sweden, Mr. Per Landgren sounded like a fair-minded person. His e-mail sent to me was as follows: Dear Mr. Ozan, Many thanks for the text.(Turks Smell a Rat in Ararat) I have gone through it and regret the production of the film you mention,(Ararat). Will just assure you we are many here, in Europe, who do not side with these men and who look forward to the integration of Turkey into the European Union./ Yours sincerely / Per Landgren.

 

 

 

 King Charles XII

Further researching on these stories and having Per Landgren still fresh in my mind, I happen to remember another article I had written some years ago. This was a work in which I had mentioned the very eloquent and charming way a noble Swedish king Charles XII had bestowed accolades on the Turks. His letter was written from a far away battlefield first, and then from Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. He was addressing his sister Ulrique -Eleanore who lived in Stockholm, and whom he worshipped dearly. King Charles XII was explaining to her describing her the event which had taken place after his armies were defeated by the Russians at the battle of Poltava. Swedish King Charles XII thanked the Turks of his day, in the following fashion:

"I was going to be a prisoner at Poltava, that would have been my death . I was saved on the shores of Bugh River, then the danger became more imminent ...again I was saved. But today I am a prisoner of the Turks. What fire, steel, and floods were not able to do, the Turks did. I don't have chains on my feet. I am not in jail, either. I am free, free to do whatever I like. But still I am a prisoner a prisoner of affection, of generosity, of nobility, of courtesy. The Turks have tied me with this diamond chain. Oh! If you knew how sweet it is to live a free slave with people so affectionate , so noble, and so gentle."

I am not about to pass judgment on an event which took place 289 years ago knowing that the United States of America wasn't even going to be born for another 83 years. It is however, impossible to hide characteristics of Swedes of that epoch and show the difference existing between the Swedes of those times and the Swedes of the present day. It is a possibility, nevertheless, to study the circumstances leading to the obvious discrepancy between then and now, and finally try to diagnose the reasons contributing to the lack of fairness in today's Swedish society vis--vis its Turkish citizens and residents..

While I am on the subject of unfairness applied to the Turks in Sweden and in the European Union, the case of the recent ultimatum-like letter sent to the President of the Turkish Republic, Mr. Ahmet Necdet Sezer, is disturbing to say the least. The same letter was also sent to the Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit and the Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Omer Izgi. The existence of such a letter brings a sense of dismay and even disgust to the mind of every Turk, because the missive is replete with routine misconceptions and incorrect pronouncements. The most striking one of them is that this unnecessarily harsh letter sent to Ankara claims that there are"20 million people whose mother tongue is Kurdish" in Turkey of today.

This is simply not so. According to all statistical figures coming from reliable sources, domestic and foreign, this sum does not go over the figure of 12 million. In fact, it is closer to 10 million actually . Nonetheless. the question or the declaration that these Kurdish background people speak Kurdish and understand one another throughout the area is a fallacy. One hears that there is no monolithic Kurdish language in existence. Today dozens of dialects are competing one with another. Furthermore, the people who may have Kurdish blood in their veins have already been all assimilated in to the Turkish mosaic. They all go to the same public schools, all are instructed in the official language of the country which is without any doubt the modern Turkish language, they intermarry, there is a common religion and common patriotic solidarity.

This report is full of anti-Turkish malicious propaganda. Its aim is to disrupt the social order and acquire gains which the PKK was not able to do on the battle front. It says in part: "The Kurdish people are now claiming their legitimate rights whose denial would not solve but aggravate the problem."

 

 

 

The truth is that what aggravates the problem is the unfair and unjust attitude of these pseudo-intellectuals. When the curricula of the countries represented by these individuals are examined, one finds no indication in their curriculum which emphasizes the mother tongue of their minorities. The six signatories are 2 from Sweden, Germany and France, Netherlands, and Denmark where no record of such procedure of teaching native languages exists.

There are more than 7 million people of diverse nationalities existing in Germany, France, Denmark, Holland, as well as in Sweden. They all work hard for a mediocre living and send their children to the schools of those countries where they reside as a labor force or in some cases local citizens with a second class calibration.

It is doubtful, for instance, that when Holland which has additionally thousands of nationals of their old colonial empire which make up today's Indonesia, no Asiatic child from Java gets educated in Javanese, or from Bali is taught in Balinese in Holland, instead of the Dutch language. Can you imagine a German school teaching Serbian or Croatian or Turkish to their ethnic students? It is common knowledge that Germans are trying to force the Turkish kids to learn about their Muslim religion exclusively in German. Do you think it is feasible for any French elementary or secondary school gearing its nationalistic curricula and begin to replace them with Arabic for the Algerians and Creole for Haitians and Senegalese for the thousands of former colonials residing all over their country? What kind of mother's tongue is used for the millions of Basques, Portuguese, or Spaniards working in many other countries of Europe, especially in an ethnocentric place like Sweden?

 

 

 

Then why are the Turkish government and the Turkish nation always badgered with this type of unfairness? What is the reason why the Turks are held to an unfair standard? Let's conclude this essay by a hypothesis and a reasonable postulation:

Had the Ottoman Turks followed the ways of the repressive British, as in India, or the chauvinistic nationalistic French, in Algeria, Tunisia, or Morocco or the likes of Leopold II of Belgium who butchered close to 10 million blacks in Belgium's colonies and summarily transferred the Congo, from his private possession since 1885, to the glory of his tiny Belgium, things would have been quite different today. If the Ottoman rulers had inculcated into their Ottoman subjects their own culture, religion and especially their own language, one half of Europe and Africa today would be reading the Koran and conversing in Turkish. As it is today in old European colonies in Africa everyone is either Catholic or Protestant and no other language but French, English or Portuguese are spoken. If the Ottomans had behaved in the same way, instead of granting every nationality in their realm freedoms galore, and rule their empire untold centuries in peace, they would have never become the subject of a European style impertinent and humiliating discourse !

Swedes Side with Kurds, Banning Turkish


"Turkish Offends Minorities" is a report taken from Mavi Boncuk; the following in italics is their commentary.

Sweden joined Denmark and ended Turkish radio programs. Voice of America will be next if fundung cuts stays as is. While EU preaches Turkey to create an environment so that broadcasting in minority languages can start and they should have been started years ago EU members curtail Turkish programming. If you want to portray it as double standard, I say it is a post modern crusade.



Text of report by Turkish commercial NTV television on 27 September

The Swedish Radio has decided to end its Turkish-language broadcasts after 28 years. The reason: the Turks who are the oldest refugee group in Sweden no longer need these broadcasts. The radio says that it will allocate more resources to the Kurds and other, newer, refugee groups. This situation creates the impression that the decision is political.

The Swedish Radio decided to end its Turkish-language broadcasts as of 15 January. In its report on the broadcasts, the Swedish Radio said that those whose second language is Turkish might be offended by listening to Turkish. The radio listed the people whose second language is Turkish as the Kurds and the Assyrians. These remarks create the impression that the Swedish Radio made a political decision.

Accordingly, as of 15 January, there will not be any Turkish- language broadcasts, but Kurdish-language programmes will be aired daily. The Swedish Radio says that its decision is based on the premise that the Turkish community, the oldest refugee group in the country, has integrated with the society and no longer needs Turkish broadcasts. Statistics, however, indicate that the Turks are the least integrated community in Sweden, because they are those who are the least fluent in Swedish.

Source: BBC Monitoring Media


 


 
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