Burning The Turkish Flag

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.

Any thoughts?

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.

Sweet protest:

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…

19 thoughts on “Burning The Turkish Flag

  1. It’s a very difficult decision for any country to make, because legalizing flag burning will be resoundingly unpopular. Also, given the AKP’s interest in avoiding run-ins with the military, they probably wouldn’t spearhead the effort.

    Here in the U.S., flag burning has been interpreted by the courts as falling under the first amendment to the consitution, meaning another constitutional amendment would be necessary to change it. (See Article V if you want to know how difficult this is: http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Constitution.html) Thus, although flag burning is very unpopular here, the government has to allow it. Until Turkey passes a similarly expansive free speech clause in its consitution, I suspect burning the ol’ crescent-and-star will remain illegal.

  2. It will never ever be legal burning the turkish flag.Millions died defending this flag.The kurds should be very cautious.Our patience is getting to an end.The kurds think they can allow themselves everything.They think the European Union will protect their provocations.On meetings on Nevruzday,the kurds showed around Maps with Turkey divided.They showed their “Kurdistan”.They showed around posters of Abdullah Ocalan, the kurdish Pol Pot.

    They seem to think that Turks´ love for the EU is bigger than the love for their country,Türkiye.

    Maybe Turkey and the Turks have to absolve another big struggle, to live in their country in peace.

    And we are ready for it.We never let nobody takeover our country.And never will!Maybe it s about time, that WE reach for the weapon.Like kurds did.But when WE do that,it´will succeed.

    And you should forget your thoughts about legalizing flagburning in turkey.i wonder how someone,that even lives in that country like you do,can think that way about turks!!

  3. Whew, Anonymous, I’d call that the quintessential argument of the Turkish right.

    Funny thing about that baklava in your last update: is it considered defacing the flag when people cut it up and eat it?

  4. Im shocked that someone who claims that he lives in Turkey,can think such a way about our biggest valuable thing that shows our nationality .Firstly it is abvious that you dont know enough about Turkish history go to the library and learn it please and after that I really wonder that “will you want flag burning to be legally?”We dont have one sided opinion and there is LAW in everywhere which doesnt enable you to do everything you want!Killing somebody is about to equal to burning or to do anything to a flag !do not forget about.
    You cant change ideology of the people .
    and to JEFF;Yes may be appearantly it may be funny the pastry made by form of flag but they just want to show their reactions probably by what they are doing and about their work (everybody can understand this)

  5. Hii
    Im one of the visitors of your websites I see that you come with second debate.It is for what?Of course you know :)so funny of you to come with the news that belongs months ago ,corny news abut flag.I really dont believe that it is because you really want flag burning to be legall but because you just want to take all the attentions on your website you should thank the person whose name was Ayse cos she started to first debate your web was uninteresting for me.And we should not forget about your ally :Jeff …Guys you are making good work (in the form of innocent intelligence)But there are so many alternatives to make your job good except from such kind useless debates;
    I wish success to you for what you are doing but ı must show that ım totally disagree about legalizing of the flag burning neither in Turkey nor in Australia ,America or anywhere in the world!

  6. I want to add sth debate about flag .I have seen your site recently and ı don’t like it.It is very useless I think. other web sites give some important information about sth but your site is like a diary. It is too funny. I don’t see anything useful in this site.You mention TURKISH values and they are very impoartant for us. In order to open a debate you use our national values.It is clear that you don’t know anything about our flag’s history.Burning a flag is serious crime. may be your national flag is not important for you but our flag and our country are very important for us.I want you to apologize from Turkish people for your ideas about our flag.I hope this debate will end soon….

  7. Any Constitutional amendment against flag desecration is bad. State laws already dictate a pledge of allegiance to the flag daily in many schools. Why is it that flag fetishists who tout flag laws don’t chant the pledge every day? Their hypocrisy masks the old dark desire to make children and adults worship government daily at the ring of a government bell. Please oppose the amendment, and educate everyone about these new historical discoveries:

    1. The original Pledge of Allegiance to the USA’s flag used a straight-armed salute and it was the source of the salute of the monstrous National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis). The gesture was not an ancient Roman salute. http://rexcurry.net/pledgesalute.html

    2. The Pledge began with a military salute that then extended outward toward the flag. Due to the way that Francis Bellamy (the Pledge’s creator) used the gestures, the military salute led to the Nazi salute. The Nazi salute is an extended military salute. http://rexcurry.net/pledge2.html & http://rexcurry.net/pledge_military.html

    3. Bellamy was a self-proclaimed socialist in the nationalism movement and his dogma influenced socialists in Germany, and his pledge was the origin of their salute. Many people forget that “Nazi” means “National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” A mnemonic device is the swastika (Hakenkreuz in German). Although the swastika was an ancient symbol, it was also used sometimes to represent “S” letters joined for “socialism” under the German National Socialists. Hitler altered his own signature into the same stylized “S” letter for “socialist.” http://rexcurry.net/bookchapter4a1a4.html

    How the discoveries were made is a fascinating story in itself. I made the discoveries by accident during legal research involving litigation about the pledge. As a libertarian lawyer, I do pro bono work educating students and others about the right to reject the ritualism.

    Fight the flag hags and their flag fetish and self-flagellation. Government’s schools should not teach kids to verbally fellate flags each morning. It is like a brainwashed cult of the omnipotent state. For adults it is childish. Remove the pledge from the flag, remove flags from schools, remove schools from government.

    A flag desecration amendment would desecrate the Constitution. Our leviathan government and its schools, and Bellamy and the Department of Education could inspire a comatose person to desecrate the flag, to pledge disallegiance, and to recite the declaration of independence.

    Francis Bellamy and his cousin and cohort Edward Bellamy (author of the bestselling novel “Looking Backward”) espoused “military socialism” worldwide. The Bellamy dogma was the same dogma that led to the “Wholecaust” (of which the Holocaust was a part): 62 million killed under the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; 35 million under the Peoples’ Republic of China; 21 million under the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. It was so bad that Holocaust Museums could quadruple in size with Wholecaust Museums to document the entire slaughter.

    In the USA, the Bellamy dogma supported a government takeover of education. The government’s schools imposed segregation by law and taught racism as official policy. The USA’s behavior was an example for three decades before the Nazis. As under Nazism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and blacks and the Jewish and others in the USA attended government schools that dictated segregation, taught racism, and persecuted children who refused to perform the straight-arm salute and robotically chant the pledge. Some kids were expelled from government schools and had to use the many better alternatives. There were acts of violence. When Jesse Owens competed in the 1936 Olympics in Germany, his neighbors attended segregated government schools where they saluted the flag with the Nazi salute. The U.S. practice of official racism even outlasted the horrid party. And the schools and the Pledge still exist. The Pledge is still the most visible sign of the USA’s growing police state. Stop the USA’s flag Nazis.

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt repeated the Bellamy errors with his massive socialism, including the Civilian Conservation Corps and its military regimentalism ( as previously reported on Opinion Editorials at http://www.opinioneditorials.com/guestcontributors/rcurry_20050603.html ), as well as social security and its Nazi numbering ( as previously reported on Opinion Editorials at http://www.opinioneditorials.com/guestcontributors/rcurry_20050204.html ).

    After segregation in government’s schools ended, the Bellamy legacy caused more police-state racism of forced busing that destroyed communities and neighborhoods and deepened hostilities.

    The flag desecration amendment is proof that government schools must end because they produce people and politicians who hate the Constitution and limited government.

    Listen to a new talk-show appearance by RexCurry.net about the flag and the pledge http://rexcurry.net/rexcurry4.mp3

    A more detailed version of the article above is at http://rexcurry.net/book1a1a1pledge-ch8a1a2.html

  8. what the fuck are u talking about Turkish nationalism.THis country had suffered a lot from foreigners like you.Stay in this country without making comment in our internal politics.

  9. From an Western European turkophile point of vieuw:
    The flag is sacred to the Turks but they also encourage other country’s sovereignty; I think you will never see a Turk to whom his country’s sacred show disrespect to another country’s symbols.
    Have there ever been flags burned in Turkey of Armenia or Cyprus? (If it does happen then those who do it do not understand what it means to be a Turk and I’ll be desapointed of course)Eventhough the opposite occurs. Turks marching with flags on the street are often mistakingly branded ‘Ultra Nationalist Turks’ because they do not understand Turkish nationalism, that has nothing to do with ‘superior ethnicity’ but rather a respect for a noble and hounnourful past and ideology. One cannot be ‘proud’ just because of his Turkish nationality acquired from birth, rather because he grows up to strive be a honnorable striving to represent a honnorable nation.
    Turkish nationalism is not:
    World domination/imperialism
    It is:
    ‘Peace in the nation, peace in the world’

  10. From the ‘annonymous’ as above…

    I think what Joe means just is that forbidding the burning of the national flag doesn’t solve the problem. Also I think he sees it more as ‘freedom of speech’ restriction.

    I personally don’t agrea with this vieuw, but I think he has the right to say what he thinks.
    He’s sincere. When he critizises Turkish internal affairs it’s not like he strives to install anti-Turkish feelings into his readers.
    He’s a friend of Turkey and has the right to speak, even if he does not agrea with the Turks.
    I can understand some Turkish readers might be offended and think he touches affairs that are not his.
    Because:
    Joe lives like a foreigner in Turkiye,
    (it’s his right)But it can only be his personal choice if he wants to live with a Turkish heart.
    But simple as an ‘outsider’, he also has to accept then that some Turkish readers might speak up and critisize what he touches uppon is not his affair. If they’re friendly remarks I think that’s okay.

    But they should understand that people who critisize may also do it because they seek to be convinsed. They seek good counter-arguments. I do the same thing to my Turkish friends. In the end I understand more deeply how Turks think and their position.

    I believe Joe is good person, and certainly has no malecious intentions, and wants only good things for Turkiye. But being from Australia he might not understand some cultural differences and values at first.

    He looks at Turkey from his own foreign perspective.
    He has different moral values, education and background.
    He shouldn’t force his ideas to others. However I don’t think his blog could be interpreted this way. This is not a place of anti-turkish propaganda.

    I think Turks generally should find it interesting to read his blog from his own perspective. This is freedom of speech and is good for the country.

    In Turkiye, insulting is not a freedom, and it’s in this perspective I see the restriction on the liberty to burn national symbols. The opposite of being a ‘restriction on freedom of speech’. Like I guess that is how Joe has seen it.

  11. What the FUCK—- you guys are talking about respect and the difference between right and wrong well…I think that burning the turkish flag should be legal. Not any other flag but specifically the turkish flag. After the disguisting and in-humane actions of turkey during the years of 1915-1918 towards the Armenian people I think that the turkish flag should be burned until proper recognition of the genocide is given to the world. Isn’t it time we stop denying. Thats how you earn respect for your nationality not by waving that ugly flag around.

  12. My name is JULIN. I will tell you my name, i will also add i am born and raised here in Australia and am of turkish background.

    Seems like there was quite a debate going on here. Have no idea how i came across this site.

    Personally, for those of you who took the time in reading this crap. I know you all have absolutely no sense of Unity nor respect. Especially you gutter mouth above.

    You sit there and use foul language, it shows ur angry? or maybe that you are a revolting person who knows only what he/she thinks is the answer to a topic u know nothing about..
    your statement: “After the disguisting and in-humane actions of turkey during the years of 1915-1918 towards the Armenian people I think that the turkish flag should be burned”.
    Firstly everyone should have their say/opinion, each to their own i believe, but you who is weak should not! Turkey just like every country on this gods given earth has a flag. You think or feel the importance of revealing the love and respect of one country is impractical or is ridiculous for making an issue about the flag which has value, history, love and identity.
    War is heartbreaking, words can not explain the effect war has upon all.
    Your bringing up the history here, the past is the past. Move forward and stop being so vengeful! You sound pathetic and weak. Stop living in the history, incase you haven’t noticed theres more shit to worry about in the present.
    I assume your talking of experience and are from the years 1915-1918,in which you feel “the in-humane actions of turkey” were applied
    You know nothing about honor, self-importance, harmony, u especially do not know RESPECT. Just broaden your mind with nonsense cause people like you will think only that.

  13. it should be noted that the collective turkish psyche is at a state of war at all times.

    some of this state of mind is attributable to the ottoman-breakup trauma which has not been healed in turkish society and some of it is consciously solicited by the military and bureaucracy through education, conscription etc.

    how this can/will be healed i have no idea.

    i’m turkish for the record.

  14. I notice your saying “A sign of Turkey truly maturing is when she legalises the burning of her flag.”, which sounds totally sketchy.

    Through that saying, you reveal you’re not aware of the real meaning of latitude of thought or freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in democracy does not mean unrestricted freedom. If you attempt to seriously insult others (like burning a flag, hatred speech, etc..), then you are breaking and interfering with their rights. This is where freedom of speech ends and the others’ rights come into the picture.

    Since you’re living in prosperity, you cannot even imagine the ardous and tough circumstances under which your ancestors struggled to establish the country and acquired the national flag. You are also not even aware of how many millions of people had to die to acquire that flag, which mainly symbolizes indepencedence. So burning that flag would be a rather contemptible way of disrespecting your ancestors and their great effort. I would expect you to also think this way rather than giving a completely superficial justification based on the freedom of speech.

  15. it is normal for turkish people to be emotional about their country or flag, because somebody attack their country and want to divide it. so it is not same burning flag in your counrty and burning flag in turkey. burning flag can just be a protest in your country and nothing else. but when you do that in turkey the reaction is different in east and west. so everycountry has some special rules or laws for their special situation and the others should respect them.

  16. dude burning a flag is like digrace to ur country and u its like 9/11 all over again every flag has a meaning like the us flag for freedom and so lets say u came from canada it like an american that lived there for 2 years burns thier flag cause they hate it not to be racist in at all its called common sense note to burn a flag

  17. Millions of people died for the Turkish flag? More like millions of people were killed by Turks for the Turkish flag. To me it brings the same disgust that the Nazi flag brings. Turkey has no land of its own, it's all land stolen from other people. The red of the Turkish flag ought to stand for the blood spilled by the Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians and Kurds who were massacred by the Turks so that they could have their country and act like they've been there forever.

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