Turkey in September, just days before police showed up at my old apartment to arrest me for a photo I published on Digital Journal.
I took that photo with permission from the head-scarved Muslim woman I thought was my friend. She had met with me on previous social occasions and even attended my Turkish wedding. She freely posed for me in front of the Kocaeli Book Fair building. Later, when she found out that I am a Christian who writes
critically about the Islamist policies of Turkey's ruling Ak Party, she demanded that I relinquish all of my photos of her. I took them off Facebook but kept one on Digital Journal.
She complained to the police about that photo, and they showed up to arrest me. But I had just left the country to teach English in China
, along with my Turkish husband who had been tortured
by the Turkish police for daring to speak out in protest. We were both attacked
by Turkish police in Istanbul, on a Sunday when we met friends for tea.
In the background of this photo of a covered Muslim woman waves the banner of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
, founder of the secular, democratic Turkish republic. Next to him, and at the same size, flies a banner of current Prime Minister Erdogan who seeks to erase Ataturk's policies and replace them with his Islamist agendas that limit personal freedom. Erdogan is a dictator
who dreams of being included in the European Union. But this will not happen under his rule, for Turkey has seen more journalists
in prison than any other country, life sentences
given to Army generals, academics, and writers who opposed Erdogan, and continuing restrictions placed on everyday freedoms to the point that, last spring, Turks took to the streets by the millions to protest.
Recently, Erdogan lifted the ban
on women wearing the "turban" (head scarf) in government and other official positions. One witness told me that this has caused a backlash against western-styled women who do not want to cover their entire bodies and heads. In Istanbul, a girl was criticized because her clothing was not modestly Muslim, and she lost her job. Will the "morality police" continue to dictate fashion in Turkey? Women
have been the target of other recent laws as Erdogan tells them how many children to have (3 or more) and limits their contact with members of the opposite sex by segregating
So it's ironic that my photo of a turban-wearing woman almost got me arrested. I actually removed that photo from Digital Journal
to placate my former friend, but I am showing it here, without her, to highlight the high position Ak Party Prime Minister Erdogan is placing himself in—right next to Ataturk. Soon, maybe, he will replace him. Notice the flag poles in the photo, like prison bars.