LOG CABIN CHRONICLES

A different Turkey, different Thanksgiving

Posted 10.23.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Our Thanksgiving this year saw a full house. Besides family and visitors from several provinces, there were visitors from Europe, Latin America, and Turkey.

With the Quebec election only a month old and the US presidential election heating up, the conversation over wine, cheese, and smoked whitefish and salmon quickly turned to politics. This might alarm those who avoid mixing politics and family, but given the range of opinions, backgrounds, and experiences present, these conversations were enlightening.

The Turk, Ihsan, studying in Montreal on a graduate fellowship in mathematics, was ready to share his impressions of Canada and Quebec.

"I love Canada," he said " there are so many different peoples and cultures here, and no one is fighting or bombing. It's exciting to walk in downtown Montreal and hear all the languages, see the faces and clothing. It's bigger than the UN!"

Quebec and its place in Canada was on his mind.

"Turkey has a big problem balancing majority and minority rights, just like here. Quebecers and the rest of Canada should look at our situation. We have minorities, but the mainstream is huge in numbers; the Kurds are the biggest minority with their own language and culture. We have fought wars, killed people, and burned towns."

Turkey, he said, has gone further down one road, one we Canadians don't want to follow.

"Even with a majority in power, not really threatened by the size the minority, there is too much hard feeling, too much hatred and fear. I don't understand why. The majority has control, yet they are still afraid of the other peoples, the minorities. To me, that is a situation out of control. It is irrational, almost everyone knows this, but no one can stop it.

"The pressure to conform in Turkey is immense. This is within the majority. They impose this on everyone -- and on themselves. It's absurd, but it also makes you cry. The majority mentality feels under siege, and there's no possibility of any 'reasonable accommodation' or compromise.

"The Kurds want to form their own country out of several regions --Iraq, Iran, and Syria. The Kurdish nationalists want their own country carved out of this region. Both sides quote history as if it was from religious books, chapter and verse, you know, of past insults and atrocities. And these past incidents justify even worse today!

"You might think the Kurds, the minority, should be quieter, but it wouldn't matter because the majority is oppressing itself by its own fears. Isn't that curious, that the majority oppresses itself?

"Now journalists who report on the minority, or artists, they are persecuted. Minority leaders are framed and hunted down. You have to be careful here, and not just the minority. I am so impressed that Quebec has remained peaceful and co-operative, but this is very dangerous ground, especially when respect for the other side isn't shown."

And that, I thought, was even better than saying Grace before our wonderful meal.




Copyright © 2012 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/10.12