Archive for October, 2009

This feature story aired on the international news program Worldfocus on PBS.

Almost all of 77 million people in Turkey are Muslim, but signs of Islamic faith are noticeably divorced from everyday life. But a growing number of Turks are joining conservative movements that believe religion should play a greater role in the country’s ethical and moral values. Secular critics brand these religious groups as fundamentalist.

Correspondent Gizem Yarbil and producer Bryan Myers report on how traditional religion and modern democracy are trying to coexist in Turkey today.

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Published on the website of the international news program Worldfocus on PBS.

Dr. Ömer Taşpınar and Worldfocus producer Gizem Yarbil discuss the role of several important conservative religious groups in Turkey, including the Gulen movement, which is the largest, and the Mustazaflar-Der, which is influential in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast.

Gizem Yarbil:  How influential are Islamic groups like the Gulen movement and Mustazaflar-Der in Turkey politically and socially?

Ömer Taşpınar: Particularly, the Gulen movement is very influential in the social, economic and cultural (particularly education)  field. The members of this brotherhood are probably in the millions. I think of this movement as a pious Muslim version of freemasons.

It’s essentially a solidarity network and a civil society organization with religious proclivities. Some analyst are bothered by the movement’s cultish attachment to its leader but this is not uncommon in Turkish/Anatolian political culture.

Read the rest of the interview on the Worldfocus website.

Published on the website of the international news program Worldfocus on PBS

Gizem Yarbil is a producer at Worldfocus and a native of Turkey. She blogs about a controversy over a Turkish television program.

Only a few days after Turkey excluded Israel from a joint NATO war exercise, a new crisis is brewing between the two Middle East allies.

The problem is a television drama series that Israel condemns as state-sanctioned “incitement.”

“Separation,” a 13-part TV series that aired on Turkey’s state-run television channel for the first time on Wednesday, has several controversial scenes. In one, a Palestinian father holds his new-born above his head in front of Israeli soldiers at a check point. A few seconds later, one of the soldiers shoots the baby dead. In another scene, Israeli soldiers kick and beat elderly Palestinians on the streets and one soldier shoots a teenage Palestinian girl on her chest.

Read the rest of the article on the Worldfocus website.