The second Turkish flag post in a row. This one is more serious.
This week, during the beginning of spring (Nevruz) celebrations in Mersin, some Kurdish protestors attempted to burn a Turkish flag.
In Turkey, burning or insulting the Turkish flag in anyway is illegal. The flag is held in very high regard in this strongly patriotic country. Read the army’s response to the attempted flag-burning: Turkish Armed Forces Is Ready To Protect Its Country And Flag.
Although I do not agree with the protestors’ aims, I believe they and everyone else should have the legal right to burn the country’s flag. Burning a flag is not a good thing, but it should not be a criminal offence. This is one aspect of freedom of speech.
Banning flag burning is actually not uncommon. Many, if not most, other countries also share the practise. Even in countries like Australia and the USA, many people want burning the national flag outlawed.
A sign of Turkey truly maturing is when she legalises the burning of her flag.
UPDATE [2005/03/23]: This morning at work, Serkan placed a large Turkish flag in the office window. I asked why he was doing it and he said “protesto” (protest). He put the flag up to protest the attempted flag burning on Sunday. I thought it was a joke until I walked to the nearby weekly fruit and vegetable bazaar (“pazar”). On the way there were Turkish flags up on apartments and shops everywhere, all displaying their solidarity in support of the Turkish flag.
Below is a photo of a flag dragging that also occurred on Sunday. I’m not sure if it is directly related to the attempted flag burning.
More news stories related to the flag incident:
Three detained over flag burning
Right-wing groups incensed
Disrespect towards flag condemned
Military issues flag ultimatum
UPDATE 2 [2005/03/24]: Here is a photo I took this morning on the way from home to work. The flags are everywhere.
The flag issue has become large enough for even the BBC to run a news article: Flag-waving frenzy grips Turkey.
Other news stories:
Botched flag burning leads to patriotic backlash in Turkey
IHD calls for moderation in flag reactions
Two children claimed to throw flag to ground deatin (sic)
UPDATE 3 [2005/03/25]: The Turkish flag is constantly displayed on the television by most channels like it usually is on a national holiday.
The Financial Times has a good rundown on the issue and Seyda at Metroblogging Istanbul writes from a different angle.
UPDATE 4 [2005/03/28]:
Lawyers act in Turkish flag row:
Lawyers in Turkey’s third city, Izmir, have filed a complaint against the country’s most senior military officer.
The complaint says comments made by Gen Hilmi Ozkok, after two young Kurdish men tried to burn a Turkish flag, created hatred between citizens.
Enough is Enough:
We should wake up and realize that what we have been experiencing over the past several days was not a demonstration of respect for the Turkish flag. On the contrary, we have been busy establishing even higher walls dividing our people.
A pastry shop in Eskişehir has joined countrywide protests against a flag desecration incident that occurred during Nevroz celebrations in Mersin last week, preparing two baking tins of baklava depicting the red-and-white Turkish flag.
UPDATE 5 [2008/08/04]:
A witness in the Ergenekon indictment claims the flag burning in Mersin was organised by the Ergenekon gang. If this allegation could be proven it would make things very interesting…