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If Turkey ever does join the EU, Sarah Ferguson will immediately be served with a European arrest warrant and on the next plane to Ankara

This whole affair is one more example of how alien to the European mindset Turkish culture really is

By on Friday, 13 January 2012

The Duchess of York has been charged by a Turkish court over a covert film she made for a documentary about the country's orphanages (PA photo)

The Duchess of York has been charged by a Turkish court over a covert film she made for a documentary about the country's orphanages (PA photo)

Let’s hear it for Fergie. The Duchess of York may have done some toe-curlingly awful things in her life – not the least ghastly of which was trying to persuade someone (who of course turned out to be a journalist on the prowl) to give her half a million for an introduction to Prince Andrew. But she has done some very good things as well. One of them, little-known and wholly untrumpeted by the media, has been raising millions towards the care and resettlement of Romanian orphans. This led her to another, I think, splendid action: together with an ITV team, she encompassed the exposure of the mind-bending cruelty with which mentally disturbed children were (and presumably still are) being treated in Turkey.

The sensitivity of the Turks at the time the ITV programme was first broadcast (three years ago, when they kicked up a huge fuss) clearly had to do with their ambition to enter the EU. They even accused the Duchess herself of trying singlehandedly to scupper this ambition. As the Mirror recalls,

Nimet Cubukcu, Turkey’s minister of family affairs, said after the film aired: “It is obvious Sarah Ferguson is ill-intentioned and is trying to launch a smearing campaign against Turkey by opposing Turkey’s EU membership.”

An ITV spokesman said of the broadcast: “This is a valid area of public interest at a time when the UK government is endorsing the accession of Turkey into the EU, a process which is conditional in part on Turkey improving its human rights record with children.”

Chris Rogers, the presenter and reporter who travelled with the Duchess for the undercover trip said: “Sarah and I witnessed children dressed in rags at Turkey’s Saray Institution, which had 700 unwanted, disabled youngsters shut up within its walls.

“There was a terrible stench of urine, sweat and vomit. We saw children tied to benches like dogs, women with their arms pinned behind their back and covered in faeces.”

One thing is clear enough: that if Turkey were now a member of the EU, the Duchess of York would already have been arrested on a European arrest warrant, and would probably already be languishing in a Turkish jail awaiting trial. So far, the worst case involving these appallingly unjust warrants (against which there is no appeal in an English court) led to a year in a stinking Greek jail for an innocent man. That case could one day be horrendously overshadowed by new injustices, beginning with the most sensational of all: for if ever Turkey does join the EU, the Duchess of York will undoubtedly, soon after the country’s accession, be in handcuffs on a plane to Ankara, there to await trial and a probable jail sentence of up to 22 years, for doing something which in any other EU country would have been perfectly legal. She has, in fact, become a one-person extra argument (there are already so many) against allowing the Turks in to the EU.

If Turkey really does still want to join the EU, this attempted prosecution is, in fact, a huge own goal. The Independent, I see, ended its report on this affair with the laconic observation that “Calls to the Turkish embassy in London went unanswered yesterday”. I don’t blame them: what could they possibly say? Turkish diplomats in London are presumably well aware of the implications of this case for Turkey’s relations with Europe. I don’t say “with the rest of Europe”, you will note, since this whole grotesque affair demonstrates nothing more starkly than that these people are just not Europeans. They don’t think like Europeans, their culture, their traditions and their politics are utterly alien to the European mind-set. This is not a European country, and in the very nature of human cultures never could be.

Its continuing treatment of its own Christian minority, about which I have written here before now, is one major sign of this. You could argue, of course, that modern secularism is just as anti-Christian. But this is on a scale and of a kind which operates in an entirely different dimension. And it is getting worse: as I indicated in the headline of a previous blog post: “Despite the EU’s demands on human rights, Turkey’s persecution of Christians is escalating.” And it is important to understand that this is not simply Turkish government policy. It is deeply embedded in Turkish tradition and mores. As I wrote in that article (about 6 months ago)

There is little doubt that the Turkish government’s anti-Christian policies have a good deal of popular support: this is, quite simply, an anti-Christian culture (and therefore incompatible, I would argue, with the European culture it claims to want to be part of). … a survey [has shown] that more than half of the population of Turkey opposes members of other religions being allowed to hold meetings or to publish materials explaining their faith. The survey also found that almost 40 per cent of the population of Turkey said they had “very negative” or “negative” views of Christians.

Christ Rogers, the reporter accompanying Sarah Ferguson in her brave exposure of that disgusting Turkish children’s “home”, was yesterday “unavailable for comment”. However, as the Independent quotes him writing in 2010: “For Turkey to try to prosecute us rather than admit its failings in caring for some of its most vulnerable children is shameful. The message has been clear: if you want to expose our human rights’ abuses, there is a price to pay.”

This whole affair reveals a frame of mind so utterly and immutably alien to everything we believe in that it really is now time for European governments to declare clearly what surely they already know: that Turkish membership of the EU is simply not a possibility. Not now, not ever.

  • Cankasis05

    i am turkish myself and spent my entire life in Istanbul till 2 years ago. I totally agree with you when it comes to our chances to join the EU- that will surely not happen in this century, not before religious beliefs are totally vanished . However, i can assure you there is no anti-christianity in Turkey at all. The surveys you took under consideration must have taken uneducated or unemployed people as subjects who have time to fill up a form, cuz they do not reflect the reality at all !! people tend to oppose Israel and their war policy in Palestine rather than christians. In fact, turkish people have lots of sympathy for the cross as an accessory, people publicly wear it including celebrities whose photos are all over the papers. I am muslim, but have an armenian blood from my grandfather, and from an objective point view- i can assure you there is no anti-christianity in Turkey. But turkish people are very united and if they get provoked they can be anti-anyone.      

  • Ian Williams

    It’s just as much an argument against the EU arrest warrant.  The cultural, political and legal differences between the UK and many other parts of the Union are significant, such as to warrant caution in handing over our citizens on the barely-examined say so of a foreign law officer.

  • gkat

    hahaha she should be tried in the UK first for her embezlemment of public funds and her disgracefull propaganda of India that she did. Furthermore i cant believe that such a website exists. Your article writers seem to be some of the most bigoted people that i have had the displeasure of reading.
    The Bible is a lie, The Quraan is a lie and the rest of these religions follow suit, so why dont you stop bothering about one of the most controversial institutions of the human race and just enjoy life?

  • Cankasis05

    what an amazingly precise comment u make there gkat. I’m not a native speaker so can’t express my point as well as u do. religions emerged as a way of disciplining people cuz it was hard to keep the order back then. but we don’t need to let religions make ourselves blind anymore. Also, the writers here are ridiculous as u say 

  • http://twitter.com/Acleron1 Acleron

    Turkey’s disapproval of all who criticise her are well known. Incorporation into the EU should be on terms that modify that, at least in law. The problem then becomes the European Arrest Warrant scheme. Getting that modified should be the priority. The iniquitous USA agreement along the same lines also needs changing.

    How that has been translated into some sort of anti-Muslim rant is quite amazing.

    And secularism is the right not to be governed by any religion or religiously motivated leader. It is not anti any religion except when that religion tries to enforce its own rule book on others.  

  • Ian Williams

    I see the Turkish Foreign Office is active here today.  I wonder if it pays as well as China?

  • maryp

    Excellent article. 

  • Anonymous

    “There is little doubt that the Turkish
    government’s anti-Christian policies have a good deal of popular
    support: this is, quite simply, an anti-Christian culture (and therefore incompatible, I would argue, with the European culture it claims to want to be part of). … a survey [has shown] that more than half of the population of Turkey opposes members of other religions being allowed to hold meetings or to publish materials explaining their faith.”

    ## That could mean anything, or not very much. Is it unreasonable for a country that is mostly Muslim in population to object to Christianity ? STM to be a perfectly intelligible position – & no different from the Franco regime’s favour for Catholicism as the established of religion of Spain, with Protestantism being allowed, but not being permitted to manifest itself in public. When I was in Istanbul some years ago, Catholic Churches were open, & so were those of one of the ancient Eastern Churches. The sole hindrance was that Catholic religious were not permitted to wear their habits in public – at Mass, there was no prohibition on priestly vestments.

  • Oconnord

    I’m surprised the authorities have space in their prisons, they seem to be holding so many journalists who dare question the government. But that can’t be true, as at the same time there has been a horrific rise in honour killings in the past five years. 

    I’m sure that a government moving from secular values to religious would be fighting the evils of murder rather than free speech.

    Perhaps those journalists were calling for the murder of women for a sleight against perceived family honour. Yes that must be the case in a country we are considering joining the EU.

  • Oconnord

    It is no surprise that Turkish muslims do not trust christians, they are told not to in verse 5:51 of the quran. The good news is that 60% do not adhere to that passage.

    Just as christians ignore exodus 22.18 and allow wiccans to live.

  • Muslimanarchist

    awful that orphans are treated so badly. We in britain should spend some of the money we use killing afghanistanis helping orphans around the world , including turkey.
    It was interesting thought the article talks of being un european, when it is very european. Only the other day did i read an article on the queens disabled cousins being locked up in an asylum, for child till death, with no visits at all from the royal family http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2059831/The-Queens-hidden-cousins-They-banished-asylum-1941-left-neglected-intriguing-documentary-reveals-all.html

  • Donna_89788y

    well one way other rules and rugalations always talk same as in UK, so she needs to payback one way other.

  • Ray

    “No Religious Persecution in Turkey at all…”  So, Cankasis, do you know of the stabbing murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese? Or, of the attacks and shootings of other Priests?  Then there was the brutal torture and death of those Protestant Ministers.  These crimes are just dismissed by the Turkish Government as being the work of “deranged persons”, who are given a few years in prison.   Then there are other problems, like the Turkish Government simply taking the Orthodox Christian Seminary property, to prevent the training of any more Orthodox priests. And there is the problem of Islamic Law, Sharia, which states that non-believers are naji, (forbidden), and to be treated the same as dogs, pigs, feces, and urine.  We Christians are very tired of these self serving untrue statements of Muslims, (like those of Cankasis)  and the Muslim unkind and vicious treatment of Christians.  Turkey IS anti-Christian, and Turks do persecute Christians.  Islam will not allow religious freedom for Christians, and therefore, Islam and Islamic law, are incompatible with Western democracy and Western Law.    

  • ConfusedofChi

    Not forgetting that the
    Prime Minster made a declaration during the last iftar
    (fast-breaking) meal. He admitted that injustices suffered by
    non-Muslims, resulting in their being unable to practice their
    beliefs and promised, ‘those days are no more’.

    It is hard to recall
    when Turkish authorities admitted that non-Muslims suffer
    discrimination as second class citizens and promised concrete
    measures to correct this. Sadly anti-Christian feelings is deeply
    rooted in many individuals and groups in Turkey, so making legal
    changes may well prove easier ( for the sake of EU membership!!) than
    seeing prejudices and negative mindsets overcome. I urge prayers for
    all those Christians in Muslims countries and for the Muslims
    themselves of course.

  • Anonymous

    That a bishop is murdered in Turkey is no more a reason for accusations of persecution than the killing of Anglican vicars by yobs  is a a reason for accusations of persecution in England. If the murder were state-sponsored, that might conceivably be reckoned as persecution; but it would have to be proven, not merely asserted. As for the bad names, what of them ? Christians constantly demean one another with insults – & have done so for almost 2000 years. How do Muslims treat Christians any worse than Christians have treated Christians; or Jews for that matter ? Not allowing religious freedom to those of whose religion one disapproves is a very old (& recent) Christian behaviour. If Islam is disqualified by the nasty behaviour of some Muslims, the same certainly applies to Christianity.

  • Ray

    Your remarks have no relation to reality.  Islam persecutes Christians viciously. This stupidity (and I do mean stupidity) of comparing the bombing of Christian Churches by Moslems, killing hundreds, with a possibility of some yobs killing a vicar, is totally idiotic.  And, you continue to deny the evil of Sharia.  So OK, be happy with Christians being classed the same as dog feces.  It shows the quality of your thinking.
    And please, get off the excuse of nasty unchristian behavior of a thousand years ago. It  We must deal with what is happening in the present.  That means Jihad, the killing of Copts, the bombing of Churches in Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Iraq, Indonesia, et. al., and the continued persecution of Christians in every Islamic Country.  Christians do not persecute others – we allow freedom of religion.    It’s up to Islam stop their criminal behavior, and allow Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and others, to worship freely.

  • Poovamfuture

    IF THERE IS NO COMMON GROUND THERE IS NO GROUND AT ALL.

    FOR ALL TRUE HUMANS THERE IS A COMMON GROUND – WHAT IS TRUE AND JUST.THAT 

    WHICH IS TRUE AND JUST IS GOOD FOR ALL. IT HAS TO BE SAUGHT OUT, ACKNOWLEDGED  

    AND PAID FOR BASICALLY BY INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE WITNESSES OF TRUTH. 

    COLLECTIVITIES NEED NOT NECESSARILY HAVE ANY LOVE FOR IT. 

  • Poovamfuture

    HAVING NO COMMON GROUND WITH HUMANITY IS TO BE AT ENEMITY WITH IT.