Turkish and Australian organizations discuss multiculturalism


Date posted: May 8, 2013

Turkish and Australian perspectives on multiculturalism and diversity differ according to experts talked at a workshop on Tuesday in Akçakoca. Discussing at the second day of the first Australia-Turkey Dialogue Workshop organized by the Abant Platform, participants agreed that multiculturalism was embraced by Australia far before it even began to be discussed in Turkey.

Maria Vamvakinou, a Labor Party member of the federal parliament in Australia and also the first Greece-born woman to be elected to the Australian parliament said that multiculturalism is a policy that has been in effect for four decades and supported by all political parties in her country. “We have people coming from everywhere in Australia¨ said Vamvakinou as she took pride in the multiculturalism in Australia. She defined Australian ¨ brand of multiculturalism is a success story¨ as she referred to a series of state led programs which contributed to nation building.

While acknowledging the presence of some people who are not necessarily supporting multiculturalism in Australia, she said contemporary Australian society is multicultural. However, she pointed out the change in the perception of immigrants in the country following September 11. According to her, third-generation Turks were suddenly recognized as Muslims. Yet, she added that multiculturalism has not been a divisive factor in the Australian community. Vamvakinou said that Australia is a “good example for the rest of the world in terms of how to manage diversity.”

Elaborating on diversity in Turkey, Today’s Zaman columnist and former Dutch politician Joost Lagendijk said that diversity and multiculturalism were not welcomed by the Turkish state for decades and therefore was not in the agenda of the country for a long time.

Lagendijk pointed out that official ideology in Turkey favored secular and Sunni Turks while discriminating against others. According to him, that policy came to an end during the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) era because they were among those segments of society that were discriminated against. ¨The AK Party has a much more positive view of the Ottoman Empire, which managed diversity successfully,¨ added Lagendijk before we went on to criticize the current Turkish policies towards foreigners from poorer countries.

¨Most foreigners who come to Turkey these days are from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iran and they are not recognized as refugees,¨ said Lagendijk due to the Geneva Convention, which allows only Europeans to be considered refugees in Turkey. However, according to him, unlike the state, Turkish society welcomes these foreigners from poorer countries.

Directing attention to the progress in the status of non-Muslims in Turkey during the AK Party era, Lagendijk said that non-Muslims have more trust in an Islamic party than a secular one in Turkey.

In critical remarks regarding the establishment of Turkish institutions for Turks living abroad., Lagendijk said that it might make Turks living abroad eternally Turks while preventing them from integrating with their host country. According to him, as a result of its growing confidence, Turkey tries to create diasporas abroad. Chin Tan, Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission said that even the diverse composition of the Australian delegation at the meeting prove the success of multiculturalism in Australia.

In response to a Today’s Zaman’s question about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remark declaring multiculturalism’s death in Germany, Vamvakinou said that Germany never designed programs to incorporate immigrants into the system and allow them to become German citizens easily. On the contrary as she pointed out, it is easier to obtain Australian citizenship. According to Vamvakinou, citizenship is seen as ¨one of the doors to becoming a fully-fledged member of Australian society. ¨ Australian participants emphasized that multiculturalism is their way of becoming a better society.

The secretary general of the Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) Hüseyin Hurmalı and author Herkül Millas both pointed out the discriminatory policies of the Turkish Republic especially in its early phases. Hurmalı said that Turkey is on the right track as normalization has started, but ¨we are not there yet.¨ Millas traced the roots of discrimination back to the Ottoman Empire because there was a distinction between the dominant and dominating nation in the state. According to Millas, when the Republic was established, the same tradition continued which led to inequality among different groups in society. ¨Ottoman Empire recognized diversity, but with ambiguity¨ commented Millas.

The two-day workshop that ended on Tuesday was organized by the Abant Platform operating under the GYV as a joint initiative with the Center for Dialogue of La Trobe University in Melbourne and the Australian Intercultural Society.

Author: SEVGAKAREME
Source: TodaysZaman , May72013


Related News

A Trip to Turkey: Religious Practice and the Secular State

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli Beyond the borders of Turkey, the city of Konya is well-known. Located just south of Ankara, it is Turkey’s most religiously conservative city. On the trip I made this summer with the Interfaith Dialog Center, all of us, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, were excited to visit this center of Sufi mysticism. […]

Mongolian teacher Galimbek’s message

Because we have been unable to become a regular and normal democracy, every generation and every social segment has once been defined as a domestic enemy in different periods. One of the things that the clandestine structures governing the old Turkey did best was to declare part of the people as an internal enemy and to launch effective propaganda to undermine their image in the eyes of the people.

Champion of Turkish schools in Australia dies at 43

Sezer Morkoç, an active volunteer for Turkish schools in Australia, died at his home at age 43 on Monday after a battle with liver cancer. Sezer Morkoç was known by his active volunteer activities in Australia. His ex-colleague Nail Kaleli recalls him by his volunteer character who would never refuse to help any educational initiatives. He involved in all the process opening of the Burc College in Australia, where more than 300,000 Turks live.

Pacifica Institute Utah hosts ‘Love is a Verb’ screening for interfaith season

Pacifica Institute Utah sponsored a screening of the film “Love is a Verb” on Monday, Feb. 23, at the Salt Lake City Library as part of Interfaith Season sponsored by the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable.

“A Model for Peacemaking: In the Footprints of Francis & the Sultan”

Dialogue Institute of the Southwest co-sponsored a video production called “In the Footprints of Francis and the Sultan: A Model for Peacemaking”, which aims to advance interfaith dialogue and understanding between Christians and Muslims. This video uses the story of their meeting to help us negotiate our difficult interfaith encounters and other misunderstanding and hostility between peoples.

Reflections on Hizmet Movement at conference in Taiwan

The Formosa Institute held an international conference on “The Hizmet Movement and the thought and teachings of Fethullah Gulen: contributions to multiculturalism and global peace” at National Taiwan University (NTU) this weekend. The conference aimed to explore the impact of the Hizmet movement on education, dialogue and peace, with a focus on transcending traditional boundaries […]

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Imam in the Middle

Gülen discounts neither past nor modernity

Statement on Erdogan Government’s shameful action against Fethullah Gulen

Erdoğan’s ‘Reichstag fire’

An International Conference on “Philanthropy and Peacebuilding”

‘My 5-month old son is slowly going blind in prison,’ says jailed mother

The Turkey in Uganda

Copyright 2024 Hizmet News