We have visited the west of Turkey for more than a decade as tourists – the odd week here, the odd fortnight there. Making friends along the way – sampling a few millimetres of “life beneath the surface”. The surface we tourists assume is how life really is.
Some of those friends have protested their country is being divided. That the tension between secular governance and religious influence is leaning towards “religious control” – that in the name of “religion” abuse of power is taking place. Whilst other friends have dismissed such concerns as the well-off protecting their own interests – these friends applaud the government for bringing prosperity, stability, rewards to the less well-off – and anyway what is the problem: Turkey is a Muslim country – so why not?
We have been asked in the past to publicise the abuse – journalists being rounded up, dissent being suppressed, promises being broken. Whilst other friends have seen affluent “bleeding hearts” liberals getting their just desserts.
Some have seen the violence in the east of their country as structural cracks to be addressed. Whilst some have seen terrorists attacking their way of life and must be stopped. Pictures of mangled bodies always provoke powerful responses. And then mix that emotion with religion …
It seems there can only be one version of freedom.
And there is a wonderful chap who lives in Turkey and blogs as BJ (“Beejai”). Has done for a while. Based in Istanbul (a cultural lifetime away from both the east and the west). This morning he added this post: “we interrupt your daily blogcast … “
Beejai lives in Istanbul and has travelled to the east. He also knows the west (as someone from the USA). He asked that we reblog his blog. That the Turkish security forces were suppressing freedom of speech.
I find that request too simplistic. Not the same, but too similar to a Facebook status: “If you believe in God you will share this (and the unsaid portion: “or you are not a Christian”)”
So I did some checking. I think we should always check. And here are two news links that supported what BJ is writing, photographing, and asking:
There are others – but they are all similar. And all seem to highlight the essence of the “problem”:
Our government’s security forces are killing our citizens that is wrong -V- Our government should be killing terrorists if they kill our citizens!
Please make up your own mind.
But something that popped up yesterday may be relevant. A post by “Christian INTP”: Maybe I’m Actually Not a Christian After All
A post about the interlacing of religion and politics in the USA. A gentle pointing out of how easy it is to be led down the path to righteousness (if we allow). I was drawn to comment:
“I wonder if something else is at play – and perhaps a uniquely USA element. That when a country pledges itself so fully to God and country, the result is a confusion. (Because) “God bless America” travels. Almost as though The USA had captured God, endowed Him with a green card, and dusted him off in some museum or another.
That cultural defining of what it means to be a living breathing and living “Christian/USA citizen” might just be the result.”
And then Beejai’s post this morning …mmmm …
Perhaps it is not unique to the USA. Perhaps it is endemic of any nation that wishes to assert its authority and borrows religion as a convenient strand of “emotional authority”. An authority that serves only (some of) that country’s “man”. That in so doing can only ever impose “conditional freedom” for one faction but in so doing rips “unconditional freedom” from all others.
In this I never see God – only abuse BOTH of man AND God dressed up as “religion”. Which is why I am not a fan of religion – but I am a fan of a God of unconditional love and unconditional freedom.