Even in antiquity, all roads east began in Üsküdar. In a sense, they still do. Given that nearly a quarter of the population of the Anatolian Peninsula lives in Istanbul’s vast sprawl, the Marmaray and M5 are but new and improved imperial roads leading to the high-rise doorstep of millions of residents of the Turkish republic. So long as its delicate balance is not severed, Üsküdar will remain to Istanbul—the confident, pious, and prosperous focal point of the urban Anatolian experience—what Turkey is to the world: proof that Islam, capitalism, and modernity, with a dash of democratic salt, is still a dish worth serving.
- Hagia Sophia, which means “divine wisdom” in Greek, has been subjected to many worldly yearnings of power and symbolism. There is no doubt that altering the status of the great church has always meant domination through control of its symbolism. President Erdogan frequently uses the Ottoman conquest and the right of the sword as part of his symbolic political vocabulary. However, there is a world of difference between the Ottoman conquest and transformation of the Church and Erdogan’s reversal of Ataturk’s decision.
- Istanbul’s last surviving ‘Christian ghetto’ is a snapshot of religious freedom, sexual tolerance, and political pluralism, a place where minorities of every flavor go to be free.
- Beautiful and tragic, violent and full of solidarity: a journey in time through Istanbul’s most multicultural neighborhood, Tarlabaşı.
- Our 9 year long Istanbul Seminars have established themselves as a recognizable cultural fixture for a remarkable community of scholars. It has been able to promote and consolidate a network of cultural, intellectual and academic relationships among senior and junior scholars of the social sciences, political theory, sociology, legal and religious studies. Explore our Istanbul Seminars archive.
- There have been 17 terrorist attacks in 12 months, in which 300 people died and about 1,000 were wounded. The suicide bombers who attacked Ankara’s airport carried out the sixth attack of 2016, a trail of blood and death that decreed the profoundly comatose state of Turkey’s tourism. The words spoken by the Minister for Tourism, guaranteeing that “all security measures to prevent further attacks have been implemented”, will not be enough to bring tourists back to Turkey. Among the elements that President Erdogan will not be able to underestimate anymore when drafting a “list of priorities” that Ankara intends to pursue to ensure a future without terrorism and relaunch Turkey’s image there is the resumption of negotiations with the Kurds and a zero tolerance policy as far as jihadists are concerned. This would mark a change of direction essential for the pacification of a country that, over the past years, has all too often found itself counting the victims of massacres that could (maybe) have been avoided.
- The Kurdish conflict has re-emerged as a key issue in Turkey. On October 19th the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, inflicted an extremely violent attack on the Turkish state, killing 24 soldiers (the highest number of victims in the past few years) in the southeast. The AKP government’s reaction to the event was extremely harsh. Turkish President Abdullah Gül promised to “reduce to the same tears” those who had carried out the attacks. And that is what happened. Ankara launched a massive attack not only in Southeast Turkey but also across the border into northern Iraq, where the Turkish governments says Kurdish separatists take refuge and organize their attacks. To understand the recent flare-up in the conflict and its links to Turkey’s constitutional re-writing process, Resetdoc spoke to Professor Ferhat Kentel, a sociologist at Sehir University in Istanbul.
- “It seems today that the acceptance of secularism within the Muslim world is extremely far away. It is as if, on the basis of deeply-held convictions, Muslim society were demanding a form of not exactly theocracy, but certainly a ‘moralisation’ of public life.” So says Abdou Filali-Ansary, director of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations at the University of Aga Khan, London. The director and founder of the Moroccan literary review ‘Prologues,’ Filali-Ansary is also the author of a number of works on the reformist tradition within the Islamic world, including L’Islam est-il hostile à la laïcité? (2002) and Réformer l’Islam? – Une introduction aux débats contemporains (2003). He recently spoke at ResetDoc’s Istanbul Seminars 2011 (19-23 May).
- At Resetdoc’s Istanbul Seminars, Fred Dallmayr, Abdou Filaly-Ansary and Ibrahim Kalin enlivened a round table on the role played by religion in society. According to the American Professor from Notre Dame University, religion can be the “salt of the earth,” but if distorted can lead to theocracies. Filaly-Ansary, former director of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations at the Aga Khan University in London, believes that religion is the adhesive that unites communities. According to Kalin, advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, Europeans must instead not commit the serious mistake of confusing Islam with the version of this religion expounded by extremists.An article by Marco Cesario.