#kahkaha Swarms Twitter After Turkish Minister’s ‘laughing ban’ on women.

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With only ten days to go until Turkey’s elections, controversial remarks made by the country’s deputy prime minister over female modesty causes outrage.

In regards to the issue of “moral decline” in the country, Bülent Arinc, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, and co-founder of the current ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has sparked anger over his attack on women.

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According to Channel 4 news, Arinc at a gathering for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr, stated, “[A woman] should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times.” Inevitably, there has been a backlash on social media, fueling anger about AKP’s views on women.

Where do AKP stand on the question of women?

Controversial remarks made by AKP ministers about women are not  uncommon. In 2010 prime minister Tayyip Erdogan asserted his opinion that,“women and men are not equal. They only complement each other”. AKP has been accused by many for being sexist, and for not being concerned about the treatment of women in Turkey. In the 2013 Gender Equality report of the World Economic Forum Turkey ranked in 120th position among a total of 136 countries.

Will This Affect the Election Result?

Arinc’s speech has so far inspired many to retaliate via social media, however AKP remains a strong political party in Turkey reaping in support from conservative Turks. Many however fear for Turkey’s future under Erdogan’s presidency.

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The Dersim Massacre: The story of a Lost Girl.

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I wanted to write a post about something related to the Dersim massacre (1938). For those who are unfamiliar with Turkey, Dersim (once renamed Tunceli in the process of turkification, but recently renamed Dersim again), is an Alevi majority province in central eastern Turkey. As someone who’s family experienced living through the massacre, I have always been passionate about my heritage and roots…

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There are many things to discuss around this topic, however I am dedicating this blog post to Arshaluys Mardikian (1901)- A young Armenian girl from the town of Çemişgezek in Dersim.  This mainly being because I have only just found out about her. I have been researching Dersim since as long as I can remember, and I have just learnt about this wonderful and inspirational young girl. After the massacre of Armenians in modern day Turkey 1915 she witnessed the death of her family and was sold first as a slave in the Anatolian markets, then to a harem and shared amongst a number of Turkish pashas. She however refused to give up on her life, and fled to Erzurum. With the help of a group of Russian soldiers who had gained control over parts of Erzurum she escaped to Tiflis (modern Tbilisi, Georgia), then to St. Petersburg, from where she traveled to Oslo and finally, with the help of Near East Relief, to New York. Arshaluys wrote about the killing of the Armenians and Dersim people. The book was called Ravished Armenia and was also developed into a film. Arshaluys married and settled in America, but sadly suffered severe mental trauma in her late life due to what she had gone through. She died alone in 1994, and her story was forgotten…But definitely not by me.

Young Arshaluys dressed in traditional clothing.

Young Arshaluys dressed in traditional clothing.

A movie poster for 'Ravished Armenia'. Arshaluys had changed her name to Aurora.

A movie poster for ‘Ravished Armenia’. Arshaluys had changed her name to Aurora.

The Dersim massacre: Dersimite children held hostage. Behind them, Ataturk's Turkish army stand proudly.

The Dersim massacre: Dersimite children held hostage. Behind them, Ataturk’s Turkish army stand proudly.

BEYOND KEBABS: A GUIDE TO TURKISH STREET FOOD

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Making Gözleme. Pic by Carin

KEBAB shops can be found almost everywhere today. Generally offering a good size meal for great value, it’s no wonder kebabs are so popular amongst students. But if you’re lucky enough to study in Turkey- the kebab’s ancestral home, you’ll quickly find that there are many other tasty street foods available.

The exciting whirlwind city of Istanbul is home to some of Turkey’s best universities, such as Sabancı, and Istanbul Bilgi and Boğaziçi, as well as some of the most appetising street foods at affordable prices. Many of Turkey’s coastal cities boast mouthwatering fresh fish restaurants, vendors of grilled corn on the cobs and popular rice stuffed muscles.

Having been to Istanbul on a number of occasions, I’ve had the opportunity to have a bite of the many different types of foods available. One thing I’ve always loved about Turkish street food however, is not only the aromatic smells of herbs and spices, but the experience which comes with the food. The vibrant culture of Turkey and the country’s love of food is fused with the food preparation process, and you always get to see how your food is made.

Turkish cuisine often involves a lot of meat, however there are vegetarian options available too. Here are some popular options:

Gözleme
Gözleme is a savoury traditional Turkish pastry dish, very similar to a pancake but with the options of most often a goat’s cheese, onion and spinach filling or spiced minced meat. You’ll often see women sat down rolling out dough on a traditional wooden tableside, cooking the gözleme over a hot griddle. Gözleme’s are not only very tasty and super addictive, but cheap and healthy. They can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or throughout the day as a snack.

Simit
The Simit is another pastry based option, and a staple of traditional Turkish street food sold by street vendors. The Simit is a light and flaky dough formed into a large ring, topped with sesame seeds and baked a golden brown colour. It can be eaten by itself or as a breakfast food with some jam. One thing that always goes very well with a Simit is a nice hot glass of çay (Turkish tea).

Simit pastry rings. Pic by Aaron May

 

Kokoreç
For those who prefer a meaty, more adventurous option, you might want to try Kokoreç, although you may find it slightly unusual looking at its ingredients. Spiced offal is wrapped in lamb’s intestine and skewed on a large open fire until crisp. Popular in many Turkish cities and especially amongst students as a post-party snack, many claim it to be very tasty, and having tried some Kokoreç myself I’ll admit it’s not bad. However taste aside, it is very greasy and there have been concerns about the exact contents of the offal mixture, as well as questions about it’s health benefits as Turkey doesn’t have very strong food standard requirements. I wouldn’t recommend eating Kokoreç everyday.

A kokoreç stall. Pic by Ankara

 

Other foods and drinks you may come across in Turkey:

Ayran: A very popular savoury plain yogurt based drink.

Çay: Turkish tea, served everywhere in Turkey in small dainty glasses.

Maraş Dondurma: A very popular ice-cream originating from the eastern province of Maraş. Famous for it’s elasticity, vendors often offer a comical show which gets people laughing.

Midye: Mostly found in coastal areas, Midye is a rice stuffed muscle. Very cheap and very tasty. However again there are questions of food hygiene.

Turkish tea – or çay – is served in small dainty glasses

 

I originally wrote this article for Student World Online

Talking About Emotions

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I want to talk about emotions. Really talk.
We’ve all got them. Some of us put them on display, some hide them behind barriers. Some think they are stupid, some (actually quite a few people I’ve come across) believe that they’re a sign of weakness. Many associate them with femininity and women- which I find annoying, and many of us at times, just don’t know how on earth to bloody control them.
Emotions.

Now I would say that I’ve been having that problem for quite a while now. It comes and it goes this feeling, but at times I do just feel lost in my emotions. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not an emotional wreck. Contrary to popular belief, being “emotional” doesn’t automatically mean (esp. if you’re female), that you are some kind of naive silly little girl who needs to come back down to earth and have a reality check. I hate that assumption, that emotions equal weakness. No. I’ve gone through a few rough patches in life, particularly with family life, and I’ve never really moaned about it, and don’t really talk about it, which is wrong I know. As I’ve matured I’ve begun to understand the importance of talking. Sometimes it’s your right to take that one tiny moment to feel sorry for yourself and just pour your heart out. Yes. Cry. Getting something of your chest is important. Very important. And I don’t do this often. I’m not a shy person. I may be quiet at times, but not shy. I’ll always speak up against something I believe to be wrong. However this is often concerning my beliefs; social, political etc, or other people, and not actually about myself. I guess, growing up, we as a family weren’t really prone to talk about our problems and feelings, and thinking about this recently has made me kinda angry.

I have begun to realise the power of talking. The importance of not letting your emotions get the better of you. Emotions have their positives and their negatives, but just like everything, too much of something is never a good thing. Talking about your emotions allows you to put things into perspective, and most importantly it allows to clear your head, meaning you can make well thought out and genuine decisions and choices. As human beings friendship and companionship is important. I believe good relationships are vital to us, and vital to our happiness. I know this now. I begun to understand this more recently on a day out with my cousin. A nice walk in a park, lead to a long conversation about problematic family, parent’s relationships, and the theme of bad fathers in our families. This lead to me crying suddenly out of nowhere in the park. And I knew that talking to my cousin, and even crying, was a good thing. I had kept my emotions held within me for far too long, and I knew I hadn’t been my usual happy self lately. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m almost always smiling, but for the past few months I had found smiling, something usually so natural to me, hard to do. It felt like a weight was lifted of my shoulders, and I knew I wasn’t alone.

That’s one very important thing to always know! You are never alone in your thoughts and emotions, in your worries and concerns. As difficult to believe as it may be at times, there is always something more, something more loving and beautiful. I’ve found this beauty in my group of friends, and in my boyfriend. People who’ve been beautifully placed in my life, people who I may not have ever know if it wasn’t for those beautiful small consequences life has in store for us. And with them I can, and I always will from now on share my emotions with.

 

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Brazil Thoughts: The Girl From Ipanema

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One of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of Brazil is the melody of one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard – the now well known Brazilian bossa nova song : La garota de Ipanema (The Girl From Ipanema), first written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. I think the most popular version of the song and the most classic and iconic is that which was first performed by Astrud Gilberto and Joao Gilberto. The song has then gone on to be performed by Frank Sinatra and even Amy Winehouse. If you haven’t already, I suggest you listen to this lovely song!

Above is a picture of Hêlo Pinheiro, the young girl who had inspired the song to be written because of her beauty. The girl from Ipanema.