Turkish-Americans in Tennessee worry about their homeland


Date posted: June 20, 2017

If you haven’t heard much about the Turkish-American community in middle Tennessee, its no surprise.

It’s not that they’re not active. They host a big dialogue dinner, teach Turkish cooking lessons, have guest speakers and invite everyone to a end of Ramadan feast. They are constantly reaching out to build bridges.

“We are living in a very nice, peaceful atmosphere people in our neighborhood love each other,” said Abdulhamit Bilici.

“I think we have a good impact as Turkish Americans,” Bilici said. “Instead of living in our nutshell, we are in the community creating dialogue.”

Now they feel compelled to talk about bridges that are in danger. They are worried about their own country and its failing democracy.

“The situation is dark and getting darker,” Bilici said.

Bilici was the editor of the largest paper in the country. It was a paper dedicated to move Turkey into total democracy and part of the european community.

One year ago that ended in an almost unimaginable way. The paper and its 4,000 employees were taken over by the Turkish army and police.

“We don’t have arms we only have pens,” said Bilici. “How can we defend against a brutal raid by police force.”

The Turkish government took over the paper ‘Zaman.’ Bilici said 50 reporters are currently in jail.

“These are reporters, editors and columnists: some are over age 70, 75,” said Bilici. “These are intellectuals contributing to politics and ideas in our country.”

Turkey is special to the United States as the only muslim country in NATO. It’s a long-time ally as a bridge between east and west, but it’s hard to get past what is happening now.

Bilici has terrifying numbers:

  • 200 journalists in jail
  • 600 lawyers
  • 160 media outlets shut down
  • 700 college professors fired
  • 20 universities shut down

“I lost the newspaper, lost my job as a journalist for 25 years, I lost everything,” Bilici said. “I had a house even. That house is seized confiscated. This is the situation but does that make me hopeless…no..people always pay the price for defending certain values.”

Turkey continues its crackdown even blocking wikipedia from appearing on Turkish internet.

 

 

Source: Fox17 Nashville , May 27, 2017


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