Volume 12, Number 17
14 February 2006

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This Week

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Last week I saw "The Tiger and the Snow," the second movie (the first being "Fahrenheit 9/11") that has been made about the Iraq-U.S. war. It's an example of the Italian neorealist school of cinema, whose filmmakers always seem to find suitable settings for their movies. "The Tiger and the Snow" is mostly about love, with the concept of the war being used as impossibility.

Well, it looks as if the Italian neorealists will be able to find similar settings in the future. Since some people have no idea what "freedom of the press" is, a new postwar setting is being prepared for use in future Italian films. Some in Denmark, for example, think that press freedom has to do with companies and countries; for them, it means that
they can say everything they want. My understanding of freedom of the press is that its purpose is to ensure the right of the community and of individuals to know. But, it seems that some people use this freedom for their own purposes, to satirize.

The events that started with the publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad are now out of control, with people burning Danish embassies, and endless demonstrations continuing to take place. Events to come may not be like that. Muslims are really angry, and I'm sure that Bin Laden is sitting on his couch and planning to bomb the building that houses the offices of the newspaper that published the cartoons. The newspaper's owner has made an apology, but it has come too late.

Moreover, this is not the only thing that has been happening in Europe and the Christian world that shows a negative attitude towards Muslims and people of other nationalities. For example, people who are from Muslim countries (which can be determined by the IP being used) are being turned away from using some websites originating in Christian countries. When they try to visit such a site, they see a message like "You are not welcome on this website, find yourself another one." (One of these sites is www.getfile.biz, a Russian website.)

This is far from the only example of discrimination against Muslims. According to a story published in Sabah on February 3, a political party that will be forming the next government in Denmark stated that primary school students will be required to read the Bible in class, saying that the stories in Bible should be read by everyone. Where is the freedom for members of the community that they claim for the press? People from religions other than Christianity, including Turkish people living in Denmark, are not happy with this. There are many other instances of discrimination taking place, of course, some of which have as much or more to do with nationality as religion.

For me, the main issue in this entire debate is the idea behind the cartoon, which is discrimination against and assimilation of different religions and societies. Is the prospect of joining the EU still a dream for Turkey? I am beginning to think that we will not be welcomed in Europe. There will either be "assimilated" membership in the EU, or there will be no membership. Europe should not forget that the Ottoman Empire always respected minorities' rights, and even gave them privileges.

In the end, what I can see is that a group of cartoons making fun of other people's religion and showing their prophet as a terrorist may become a reason for war. A late "apology" may not be helpful after this. I hope that there will be no war and that no Italian neorealist films will be made in the postwar setting. I hope that no innocent people will die, and I hope people will come to understand the true meaning of "freedom of the press." Peace!


Gülay Acar (COMD/III)

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