Worldfocus on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service)

The Turkish military under the ‘sledgehammer’
02 24 2010

Turkey has been rattled by the news this week that about 50 military commanders were detained for allegedly planning a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Islamic-leaning government.

The commanders are accused of “attempting to remove the government through force and violence” in a supposed plot codenamed “Sledgehammer.” Alleged tactics include planting bombs at mosques and shooting down a Turkish warplane, with the ultimate goal of causing so much chaos and disruption that the military would need to step in and take control.

The military denies all allegations.

The Turkish military, which is generally seen as a bastion of secularism, has overthrown governments four times in the past, most recently in 1997, when it ousted an Islamist Prime Minister. Still, the crackdown is unprecedented in a country in which the military is regarded by many as untouchable.  Read the rest of the article on the Worldfocus website.

Turkish women fight against honor killings
02 08 2010

The first honor killing story I delved into as a journalist was of a Turkish girl from Germany.

Hatun Surucu was 23 years old when her youngest brother shot her at a bus stop in Berlin in 2005. She was training to be an electrician and she had a son.

She was born in Germany to Kurdish parents who had migrated to the country from Turkey. From the day she was born, she was confined to a secluded lifestyle under the strict scrutiny of her parents and her brothers. When Hatun was 16, she was married to her cousin in Turkey in an arranged marriage. She moved to a village in Turkey and had her son when she was 18. When Hatun decided to leave her marriage and moved back to Berlin, she knew she couldn’t return to her family home. She took refuge in a women’s shelter, got rid of her head scarf and started to rebuild her and her son’s life.

Hatun’s new western lifestyle was deemed dishonorable by her family. They decided she was bringing a bad name to the family so she had to be killed. Read the rest of the article on the Worldfocus website.

Documentary tells story of Burma’s undercover journalists
02 04 2010

It is difficult to be a journalist in Burma. The country has one of the worst freedom of press records in the world. According to the latest worldwide index on press freedom provided by Reporters Without Borders, Burma ranks 171 out of 175 countries.

The latest news out of the country validates Burma’s horrendous press freedom record. Just last week a military court in Burma sentenced a journalist to 13 years in prison for working with Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based media outlet that reports news from Burma. Read the rest of the article on the Worldfocus website.

Controversy flares over use of the word ‘Allah’ in Malaysia
01 12 2010

Malaysia has long had a reputation for being a secular Muslim nation. But recent events are threatening its moderate image.

Nine churches have been attacked with Molotov cocktails or vandalized since last Friday following a court ruling on New Year’s Eve that overturned a government ban on the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims. Read the rest of the article on the Worldfocus website.

Kurdish activists and politicians detained in Turkey
01 07 2010

On the morning of Christmas Eve, Turkey woke up to a newspaper photo of a line of handcuffed Kurds in detention. Among them were several prominent Kurdish elected officials and human rights advocates.

On the same day, in early morning raids conducted in eleven cities in the southeast of the country, Turkish police arrested dozens of members of the recently banned Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), including at least seven local mayors and other politicians. Their alleged crime was to be part of a civil and urban network of the militant separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Read the rest of the article on the Worldfocus website.

Ruling threatens reconciliation between Turks and Kurds
16 12 2009

It was a blistering morning in early June and we were driving in the southeast of Turkey. Worldfocus producer Bryan Myers and I were traveling to Diyarbakir for a story about the Kurds and the latest developments in their often tragic plight.

We had already shot and produced two stories around Turkey, but this one was especially important for me. Surrounded by golden fields that were illuminated by the scorching southeast sun, I was traveling to a region, which, up until a few years ago, was a no-go area in my country. Read the rest of this blog on the Worldfocus website.

Gay Refugees flee persecution but remain at risk
11 23 2009

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) refugees are among the most vulnerable refugee groups in the world today, according to Neil Grungras, the executive director of Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM).

ORAM is a San Francisco based, not-for-profit international organization providing advocacy for refugees who have fled sexual or gender based violence. Many of ORAM’s clients have undergone or have been marked for imminent imprisonment or torture. Some face execution. Read the rest of the article on the Worldfocus website.

Is Polygamy good for women?
11 02 2009

A proposal last week by Malaysia’s Islamic party argued that polygamy can be beneficial for women.

The conservative Islamic party has called for Muslim men in the country to marry single mothers instead of “young virgin girls,” said a state official. Al-Arabiya news channel quoted Wan Ubaidah, head of women, family and health affairs in a northern state,  remarking that although Malaysian men usually prefer young and virgin girls as their additional wives, this new proposal would help single mothers and widows who are finding it hard to raise their kids.  Read the rest of the blog on the Worldfocus website.

Israel condemns Turkish TV drama for “incitement”
10 16 2009

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 blog on the Worldfocus website.

Leveling the gender playing field in Turkey
09 11 2009

Turks are mad about football (soccer), but most of them are unaware of a new development in the field: A new professional women’s football league. Now, a group of brave girls is trying to challenge the gender divide in Turkey.

The new league has been met with resistance, and some boundaries have yet been broken down. Many in Turkey still believe that women should be confined to the home, and that the football field is no place for women.  Read the rest of the blog on the Worldfocus website.

Global Press Watch

Turkish Media Monitor
04 15 2008

In a country of political and ethnic turmoil, self-censorship is a common practice among Turkish journalists. Among the major factors that put pressure on journalists are: corporate ownership of media, the economic dependence of some of these corporations on the government, the military’s influence on reportage, and a political atmosphere of heightened nationalism, which is reflected in a criminal law that subjects journalists to prosecution for insulting “Turkishness.” At the same time, some progress toward greater press freedom can be seen in recent years as the number of journalists imprisoned because of their work has sharply declined from the 1990s.  Read the rest of the article.

Texas and Ohio Primaries in the Turkish Press
03 06 2008

The Turkish press has shown increased interest in the U.S. presidential primary elections now that the Democratic race is getting more and more heated. In the run up to February’s Super Tuesday elections, most of the Turkish media relied on wire service reports. However, for the March 4 Democratic primaries in Ohio and Texas, most major Turkish newspapers had their reporters in Washington cover the event first hand. Read the rest of the article.

Coverage of the U.S. 2008 Elections in the Turkish Press
02 06 2008

American politics has always been prominent in the Turkish press and most Turkish papers cover important U.S. news intensively. However, the run-up to the 2008 primary elections and caucuses has coincided with a very busy political period in Turkey. At the moment, the Turkish media is full of coverage of the incursion of the Turkish army into Northern Iraq and the ongoing armed conflict between the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeast Turkey. Another event that is dominating the news agenda is the ruling conservative Islamist Justice and Development Party’s stubborn effort to change the law that bans the veil in Turkish universities. Thus, the elections in America have not yet become a prominent spectacle in the Turkish press. Read the rest of the article.