Saturday, October 25, 2008

Banned in Turkey

Along with YouTube, Blogspot is also now banned in Turkey. I've used another website to sidestep the ban, for now. There hasn't been a reason given as to why it's been blocked, but rumor has it that the man behind a few other bans is behind it - Adnan Oktar. He's an Islamic fanatic who is offended by anything appearing on the web that creates ideas or theories that don't relate to the Koranic version of creation. And for some reason, the conservative-leaning governing party, the AK Party, listens to him.

He had wordpress banned earlier this year, (unblocked now), although he is not behind the now 5-month-long YouTube ban. (We have that thanks to a childish argument between a few Greek and Turkish twits that went something like, "Ataturk is gay!" "Oh yeah? Well the Greeks INVENTED gay!". Then the Turkish government drew international attention to the insult by closing down the whole site and barring the whole country from seeing anything the site has to offer. Way to punish those Greeks! That'll show them!)

I have not lived in a country before that bans it's people from any sort of mainstream information, and it really bothers me. I have also not lived in a country where the people roll over passively and allow the government to do as it pleases. If you blocked YouTube in Canada or Taiwan, I'm pretty sure the locals would take to the streets. (You don't mess with the Taiwanese and their technology.) It's all part of progressing and moving forward which I feel the Taiwanese actively pursued and the Turks wouldn't pursue if they weren't forced to by the dangling carrot of the EU.

This week, because of the US election, the subject of elections came up in a few classes. Although Turks love to talk politics and worry about the state of the government in Turkey, none of my students had ever voted!!! I was shocked! They sit and complain about taxes and social policies and have never bothered to take any action. Why not? "There are no good candidates", "all politicians are all the same", "we are powerless against the government".... All really lame excuses because unlike their Arab neighbors to the south (that they never want to be like), they don't appreciate that they CAN vote or bother to apply their vote.

How disappointing. My students are all wealthy and represent the top management of their international companies. They are the upper echelons of Turkish society, and they don't even bother to vote.

And they don't even bother to speak up when the government takes away their freedom of information.

I'm totally disgusted.

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