Contemporary Turkey at a Crossroads

Monday, 5 August 2013 | A Public Affair

“I believe that they are mostly focused on the Turkish journalists and arresting them and trying to keep them from doing their job. There’s been about 100 journalists that have either been fired or have been forced to resign since the beginning of the Geiz Park protests.”- Jenna Pope on the arrests of Turkish journalists

Turkey jails more journalists than any other country in the world – yet still it draws them. On Monday August 5th, Jenna Pope and Barbara Wright joined our host John Quinlan on A Public Affair to discuss contemporary and historical Turkey, its recent volatile political history, and its status as a place of progress. Jenna Pope is a 22 year-old Wisconsinite photographer-activist who initially covered the Wisconsin protests and is now traveling to photograph and document political movements around the world. She spent part of the summer in Taksim Square, and other locations in Turkey, covering events and demonstrations. Barbara Wright is a prolific peace activist and former owner of the Mediterranean cuisine Dardanelles Restaurant. She also continues to travel around Turkey as a culinary adviser.

Quinlan, Pope, and Wright discussed contemporary Turkey, as well as some of the misconceptions that U.S. citizens have about Turkish culture. Turkey is traditionally an Islamic culture, but since the reforms of Ataturk they have mixed Western culture and ideas into their society – even progressing so far as to seek entry to the European Union. The current government, however, is at a crossroads and must choose between continuing this progression or returning to older values.

Pope began by telling several stories from her travels in Turkey and how she struggled with the language barrier; however, with social media she was able to connect to activists both in Turkey and the United States. She also described the protests, demonstrations and even police brutality that she experienced, saw and was able to capture on camera. Wright focused on how Turkish culture has developed over time from the Byzantine Empire and Ottoman Empire to contemporary Turkey. Wright also went into detail about how there is a conflict between tradition and how Turkey is being pushed to evolve into the 21st century.

A common theme throughout the show that was touched on by both guests was the solidarity of the protestors in Turkey and what that could mean for the future of globalization.

“Now there are millions of people all over the world who realize that whether it’s happening in Taksim Square or whether it’s happening in the Capital in Madison, it’s the same fight”.- Barbara Wright on the protests that are happening in Turkey 

For the last ten minutes of Monday’s show, Quinlan played a video by the Real News Network that commemorated the anniversary of the tragic Oak Creek temple shooting that happened a year ago. You can watch that video here.

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A Public Affair
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A Public Affair is WORT's daily hour-long talk program. It aims to engage listeners in a conversation on social, cultural, and political issues of importance. The guests range from local activists and scholars to notable national and international figures.

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