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Letter: Turkey is in ‘dire straits’ | Letters

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Letter: Turkey is in ‘dire straits’ | Letters | qctimes.com





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By most definitions, I am a ‘Turcophile.’ I studied abroad in Istanbul, speak some Turkish, am fascinated by the Ottoman Empire and am addicted to Turkish tea. But when it comes to Turkish politics, I strive to remain objective.

Earlier in September, the Quad-City Times Editorial Page Editor Jon Alexander and Turkish Consul General Umut Acar wrote divergent articles on the state of Turkey. Mr. Alexander wrote that Turkey is sliding toward a dictatorship while Mr. Acar countered that Turkey and its democracy are merely growing stronger.

I met Mr. Acar a month after he was posted to Chicago. I had the pleasure of playing Turkish music in front of him. Indeed, I agree with several of his points. The July 2016 attempted coup in Turkey was undoubtedly a tragedy and the 250 dead should rightfully be mourned.

Turkey has also tragically faced a slew of terrorist attacks in the past two years from ISIS and the Kurdish secessionist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In addition, I have the utmost respect for Turkey (and Greece, Jordan, Lebanon, and others for that matter) for sheltering millions of refugees.

But while I respect Mr. Acar and his country’s position, I must agree with Mr. Alexander to an extent. The Turkish government has cracked down on dissent and freedom of expression. Turkey has been cited for human rights abuses against prisoners, refugees and ethnic minorities. At the very least, Turkey is guilty of moves that belie its commitment to freedom and democracy. At worst, Turkey is in dire straits.

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