Tag Archives: turkey

The right of protest in Turkey


One think is sure! After the “coup d’état” in 2015, the Don Quixote imaginary Neo-Sultan of the New Ottoman Empire, Mr Erdogan seized all powers in his hand and made the army of the country his puppet.

People cannot protest peacefully in the country anymore. Even the LGBT gay pride was not authorized and people got arrested.

Historically, In 1858 the Ottoman Empire—the predecessor of the modern-day Republic of Turkey— adopted a new penal code, which no longer contained any explicit articles criminalizing homosexuality. The Ottoman Penal Code of 1858 was heavily influenced by the Napoleonic Code, as part of wider reforms during the Tanzimat period. LGBT people have had the right to seek asylum in Turkey under the Geneva Convention since 1951, but same-sex couples are not given the same legal protections available to heterosexual couples. Transgender people have been allowed to change their legal gender since 1988. Although discrimination protections regarding sexual orientation and gender identity or expression have been debated legally, they have not yet been legislated.

In response to the recent crackdown on the Istanbul Pride Parade, Freedom House issues the following statement:

“The continuing assault on LGBT+ people in Turkey was on full display with the use of tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent the Istanbul Pride March,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “This latest crackdown is part of a larger effort to roll back LGBT+ and women’s rights in Turkey, which also includes the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention and the prosecution of Boğaziçi University students for holding rainbow flags. The government must stop the continuing assault on LGBT+ communities and guarantee fundamental rights protections of all people in Turkey.”

On June 26th, police used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse the annual pride parade in Istanbul. At least 20 people, including Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer Bülent Kılıç, were detained by the authorities. Kılıç was violently arrested, with police breaking his camera and pressing on his neck. AFP denounced Kılıç’s treatment, while Kılıç himself has filed a complaint against the police. The Istanbul pride parade has been banned since 2014, though participants have consistently marched in defiance of that ban. Four days before this year’s march, police forcefully dispersed a pride-week picnic in the city, detaining at least one person.

The crackdown on the Turkish LGBT+ community has intensified since Boğaziçi University students began protesting the appointment of Melih Bulu, an ally of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as rector in January. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu later called student protesters “LGBT deviants,” after protesters disseminated a photograph that included Islamic and LGBT+ imagery. Twelve people who were detained in March after carrying a rainbow flag at a protest, meanwhile, faced their second judicial hearing earlier today.

In May, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europeranked Turkey the second-worst country in Europe for LGBT+ rights. On June 17th, Council of Europe (CoE) human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatović called on the Turkish government to respect the rights of LGBT+ people to assemble, criticizing the banning of pride marches and noting a “visible rise in hateful rhetoric and the propagation of homophobic narratives” by Turkish politicians and officials.

Turkey is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2021 and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2020.

Analyzing The facts

However, at the same time, during the parade protest much worse things happened in the back streets of Istanbul, Taksim Istiklal Street (where the walk is intended). This district is called Cihangir.

Police forces attacked people sitting in cafes in Cihangir. People they were sitting there, some of them were unmasked as an excuse given by the police to attack them. We understand this from their speeches in the videos. Nonetheless, the police forces obviously intercepted any person whose appearance seemed “marginal” given the potential to participate in this parade, and then, they found the excuse to attack them. And when the customers of the cafes objected, they were arrested by the police force. Here is a twitter link:

The police forces , at that moment, lost its temper and even took their phone from someone’s hand, then most likely they deleted the footage. The police has the right from now on to do so as on April 30, 2021, the Turkish General Directorate of Security issued a circular stating that “it was decided to prevent people who recorded the images or voices of the police during the protests and to take legal action against them”.

“Controversial Circular from the Police: Recording images is now prohibited”
https://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/emniyetten-tartisma-yaratacak-genelge-goruntu-kaydetmek-artik-yasak-1832275

“In the circular in question, it was argued that sharing the audio and video recordings of the police officers and civilians on social media “violates the privacy of private life”, while it was argued that receiving audio and video also prevented them from doing their duty.”

Already since the 15 July 2016 FETO coup attempt, Turkey has been governed mostly by the decrees of Tayyip Erdoğan and the circulars of such public institutions.

Here another video: https://twitter.com/tugbaaozerr/status/1408820117123780608

In this video, the young man walking to the side of the police bus says that he is a lawyer and that what they are doing is illegal, almost begging. But the female cop almost glues him to the vehicle. At the end of the video, a young woman protests and says there is abuse here. The police says there is not any abuse.

But beyond all that, there is something much more interesting in this short video. At the beginning of the video, it is seen that male and female policemen are waiting in line. And all of the female cops on line are not wearing headscarves. However, three of the three female police officers heading towards the bus and detained the young woman are wearing headscarves.

After the 2016 FETO coup attempt in Turkey, the recruitment of headscarved women into the army and police forces was enacted by the AKP government.

This was not legal in Turkey before in the kemalist period . And with the democratization approval period of accessing to the European Union, it became law to admit women without headscarves to the public institutions of Turkey.

Wearing a headscarf or not has no meaning for the West. But it does for Turkey. Since its establishment, it has applied a principle of secularism in that way. In other words, headscarved women, or men with fez or turban, or any religious symbol of any religion could not wear any official clothing in public until the last 5 years. 

Why was this implemented? Turkey is a predominantly Sunni Muslim country. In the years it was founded, the literacy rate was around 12%. And it would not be wrong to say that the imams of mosques, which were in almost every neighborhood, were more involved in people’s lives and influenced the public. We know this from some imams who cooperated with the British during the War of Independence of Turkey, 1919-1923. And with the collapsing of the Ottoman sultanate, the loss of the caliphate and the fear of losing the power of some of the imams made them cooperate with those who invaded their country. And they did this not only on the basis of religion, but also on ethnic identity. The most important thing to do in this situation should have been to implement laws in order to prevent this. As stated in the second of the first three unalterable articles of the Turkish constitution, “The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state of law.”

For this reason, all kinds of religious symbols were removed from the public domain. Because if even one of them were allowed, it would have been against the principle of secularism, and the already overwhelming influence of the Sunni Muslim majority in the country would increase. 


However, the Western world pointed this law against free expression and life, by presenting Atatürk as a dictator, anything that is contrary to the founding principles of Turkey, and in a sense, contrary to the Republic of Turkey founded by Atatürk. According to our information and as most West politicians having influence at that time stated, they supported Tayyip Erdogan from the very beginning, supposedly saying in their own minds, “Yes, Atatürk was a dictator, but he was not our dictator, we need a dictator in our own hands”. Even if the EU says they do not support him sometimes, we can say that they use this just as a rhetoric, as EU countries have never come into conflict with the government of Tayyip Erdogan because it will influence the trade negatively. 

It is obvious what kind of result a country like Turkey has had with the so-called democratization pressure on Turkey’s founding laws, by putting aside its internal dynamics, history and culture. Just like what happened in Cihangir last week. 

If we go back to the video, it is a complete FETO tactic, especially if these three women wearing headscarves were given the task of detaining the young woman and acting while having in mind that these images will become widespread. FETO, too, had done its best to stir up every internal dynamic in Turkey and to materialize this.

Tayyip Erdogan and his government are aware of the bad situation of the country economically and socially. And it is very clear that they are thinking of creating an environment where they can put more pressure and increase the discomfort in the country by showing some dynamics dividing the society to “secular and non-secular” .

Isn’t that strange that Tayyip Erdogan his relatives and supporters behave in the same way with the FETO line tactics are still being applied while they are stating that they are against FETO movement?

Here the 3rd video: https://twitter.com/t24comtr/status/1408849571414003716

“The citizen, who reacted to the sound bomb thrown by the police at the Pride Parade, saying “The child is sleeping”, was detained by the police.

And as the police chief instructions orders “Go upstairs and take him!” that citizen on the balcony has been taken into custody also. 


Of course, this police violence was not limited to those who participated in the LTGB pride parade, the ones sitting in the coffee shops in the back streets of Istiklal road, journalists should not be forgotten. The press freedom reports regarding Turkey already are not heart-warming :

“Report: Turkey ranks second after China in the number of journalists imprisoned this year”https://tr.euronews.com/2020/12/15/rapor-turkiye-cin-den-sonra-bu-y-l-en-fazla-hapsedilen-gazeteci-say-s-nda-ikinci-s-rada

The report states that as of December 1, 2020, 274 journalists were still held in prison in the world, while China (47), Turkey (37) and Egypt (27) were among the top three in this list.”

Bulent Kılıc, photojournalist for the French news agency AFP, who was detained with the harsh intervention of the police during the 19th Pride Parade in Taksim, Istanbul, was one of these journalists.

https://twitter.com/A3Haber/status/1408789501800034308


“The reporter who followed the Pride Parade was detained after being suffocated by his throat.”

Kılıc, who shared on his Twitter account, used the following statements:


https://twitter.com/Kilicbil/status/1408898398309257217


“I was intended to be killed, I was intended to be left breathless. I will hold accountable for whoever did this to me, in the Constitutional Court, European Human Rights, whatever, whatever court in this world, it will be held accountable in court as long as I live. It will not be left for the Supreme Court.”

These are some of the photos in LTGB pride by Bulent Kılıç took before he was taken into custody


https://twitter.com/yasinnakgul/status/1408901737059082257

This is what happened in Turkey in just a day or even a few hours. It is obvious that the censorship applied in Turkey is one of the worst during nowadays and this kind of dictatorial pressure must end soon in the country.

erdogan rainbow flag
A Photo of “Neo Sultan Erdogan” draped in LGBT and make-up since he hates LGBT 🙂

Sources:

Freedom House : Turkey: Authorities Violently Disperse Pride Event

 Ishtiaq Hussain (15 February 2011). “The Tanzimat: Secular Reforms in the Ottoman Empire” (PDF). Faith Matters. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 October 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2014.

Wikipedia: LGBT rights in Turkey

See report of Kaos GL: Turkey’s LGBT History: The 1990sArchived 24 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 16 October 2009.

6th İzmir Pride Parade: ‘We’ll Walk Up to Fear'”. bianet.org. Retrieved 12 June 2018.

The Economic Outlook of Turkey in June 2021


From humble beginnings Recep Tayyip Erdogan has grown into a political giant, reshaping Turkey more than any leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the revered father of the modern republic.

But in recent years the economy has deteriorated. Inflation is nearly 12% and the Turkish lira has slumped against the dollar. Coronavirus is exacerbating Turkey’s economic woes.

When he became Turkish leader back in March 2003 the lira rate was 1.6 to the dollar – now it is above 8.0. His early years in power were marked by solid growth and a development boom.

1: Turkish Lira Exchange Rate to US Dollar, Source: XE

The World Bank on April estimated that Turkey’s poverty rate rose to 12.2% last year, from 10.2% in 2019, and said returning to pre-pandemic levels would be a challenge. The World Bank also states that Turkey’s economic and social development performance since the early 2000s has been impressive, leading to increased employment and incomes and making Turkey an upper-middle-income country. However, in the past few years, growing economic vulnerabilities and a more challenging external environment have threatened to undermine those achievements. 

The World Bank said the impact of the pandemic would be a “struggle to shake off” globally but that Turkey’s economy is expected to grow 5% this year due a recovery in exports.

It warned that rising inflation in advanced economies could lead to “destabilising movements in global liquidity away from emerging markets” and added that growth prospects could also be hit by a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

Analysis

For most of the period since 2000, Turkey has maintained a long-term focus on implementing ambitious reforms in many areas, and government programs have targeted vulnerable groups and disadvantaged regions. Poverty incidence more than halved over 2002–15, and extreme poverty fell even faster. 

During this time, Turkey rapidly urbanized, maintained strong macroeconomic and fiscal policy frameworks, opened to foreign trade and finance, harmonized many laws and regulations with European Union (EU) standards, and greatly expanded access to public services. It also recovered well from the global financial crisis of 2008/09.

The Turkish economy was one of few globally to expand in 2020 despite coronavirus fallout, thanks largely to a credit boom around mid-year.

Overall inflation was around 12% – and near 20% for food – for much of last year before climbing. Tourism revenue sharply declined and exports fell, leading to a large current account deficit.

The government in response topped up employee wages and banned layoffs, keeping a lid on the unemployment rate.

The recent Turkish crisis, started in 2018, was caused by the Turkish economy’s excessive current account deficit and large amounts of private foreign-currency denominated debt, in combination with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasing authoritarianism and his unorthodox ideas about interest rate policy.  Some analysts also stress the leveraging effects of the geopolitical frictions with the United States and recently enforced tariffs by the Trump administration on some Turkish products such as steel and aluminum.

The Turkish lira keeps to fall when comparing to the dollar and euro (as strong currencies) and has come under more pressure in recent weeks, in a continuing crisis that started in 2018, as investors try to assess whether the country’s central bank will heed the demands of its president to cut interest rates. But a rate cut could drag the lira down further at the same time that the country’s high inflation rate is already diminishing the currency’s buying power.

The overall macroeconomic picture is more vulnerable and uncertain, given rising inflation and unemployment, contracting investment, elevated corporate and financial sector vulnerabilities, and patchy implementation of corrective policy actions and reforms. There are also significant external headwinds due to ongoing geopolitical tensions in the subregion. 

COVID has deepened gender gaps and increased youth unemployment and the poverty rate. The risk of inequalities has also been increasing. The COVID-19 crisis is expected to have severely negative consequences for Turkey, further weakening economic and social gains.

There is an “exchange rate illusion” in Turkey’s economic growth data, according to Enver Erkan, chief economist at Istanbul-based Tera Yatirim, who’s ranked by Bloomberg as the most accurate forecaster on Turkish GDP data.

Noting that the GDP per capita in U.S. dollar terms dropped nearly 40% since 2013 to around $7,700 last year, Erkan said Turkey’s recent economic model isn’t sustainable as the growth is mainly driven by consumption supported by government spending and loan campaigns.

A stronger dollar would also add further pressure to the Turkish lira. Turkey’s currency hit a record low on June 4, when it fell to 8.7532 lira to the U.S. dollar, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for lower interest rates by July or August. That has left investors to assess whether the country’s central bank will heed Mr. Erdogan’s demands.

Mr. Erdogan has fired three central bank chiefs in less than two years, and he prefers low rates as a part of a strategy to encourage growth. His reluctance to have higher interest rates could mean that investors’ returns are eroded. A recent rise in the cost of oil past $70 a barrel is also likely to boost inflation in Turkey.

Turkey’s consumer price inflation eased to 16.59 percent year-on-year in May 2021, from a near two-year high of 17.14 percent in the previous month and below market expectations of 17.25 percent. Still, the rate remined well above the central bank’s medium-term 5 percent target, with upward pressure coming from food and non-alcoholic beverages (17.04 percent vs 16.98 percent in April), transport (28.39 percent vs 29.31 percent), housing and utilities (14.08 percent vs 13.60 percent), furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance (21.79 percent vs 22.27 percent), hotels, cafes and restaurants (17.73 percent vs 16.81 percent), clothing and footwear (5.75 percent vs 11.03 percent), and miscellaneous goods and services (17.92 percent vs 18.27 percent). The core consumer price inflation rate, which excludes volatile items such as energy, food and non-alcoholic beverages, alcoholic beverages, tobacco and gold, slowed to 16.99 percent in May from 17.77 percent in April.

2. Turkish Inflation Rate, Source: Trading Economics

Turkey’s Industrial Output

3.Turkey’s Industrial Output in March 2021

Turkey grew faster than all Group of 20 nations except for China in the first quarter after nearly stalling a year ago when Covid-19 struck. It’s been bolstered by robust consumption on the back of last year’s government-led push to cut interest rates and boost lending.

Gross domestic product rose 7% from a year earlier and 1.7% from the fourth quarter. The median of 22 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey was for 6.3% growth compared to the same period in 2020.

“This comes at the expense of lira and price stability,” he said.

The government pushed banks to ramp up lending to help businesses and consumers ride out last year’s Covid-19 emergency. The credit boom was coupled with a front-loaded easing cycle that helped prime the economy. That growth push weakened the currency by 20% last year and kept headline inflation in double digits. The size of the economy dropped to $717 billion last year from $760.8 billion a year earlier.

  • Automotive Industry

Turkey’s automotive production, including light commercial vehicles, tractors, and automobiles, amounted to 532,441 million units in January-May, a sectoral report revealed on Monday.

The sector posted a strong recovery with a 28.2% increase year-on-year in the January-May period, after dramatic falls last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic measures.

Last year, the automotive production narrowed by 11% versus 2019 and decreased by 34% year-on-year in the first five months.

While the sector surpassed 2020 figures, it could not reach 2018 and 2019 figures yet, when the production was 712,022 and 625,946 units, respectively.

4. Turkey’s economy Outperforming in first quarter of 2021, Source : Bloomberg
  • Exports

According to the country’s Trade Minister ,Turkey’s foreign sales powered ahead as exporters achieved their second-best May ever.

Exports surged 65.5% year-on-year to reach $16.6 billion (TL 142.48 billion) last month, Muş told a news conference in the capital Ankara.

Sales were up from nearly $10 billion a year ago, battered by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that had temporarily shut borders.

They increased despite the strictest lockdown yet that covered part of May. Turkey remains a big trade power in the world as its trade continues rising.

Turkey shipped US$169.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2020. That dollar amount reflects an 18.8% increase since 2016 but a -0.9% drop from 2019 to 2020. That figure also represents roughly 0.9% of overall global exports estimated at $18.709 trillion one year earlier during 2019 (calculated as of February 17, 2020).

Applying a continental lens, 55.7% of Turkey’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 26% were sold to Asian importers. Turkey shipped another 9% worth of goods to Africa. Smaller percentages went to North America (6.9%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.7%) then Oceania led by Australia, Marshall Islands and New Zealand (0.7%).

5.Turkey’s Trade with the European Union, Source: EUROSTAT
6.Turkey among the world’s largest traders of goods, 2019, Source: Eurostat
7. Turkey’s Top Trade Partners, 2019 , Source: Eurostat
8. Turkey among the EU’s main partners for trade in goods, 2020, Source : Eurostat
9. EU trade with Turkey by product group, 2010 and 2020, Source Eurostat

The breakdown of EU trade with Turkey by SITC groups is shown in Figure 6. The red shades denote the primary products: food & drink, raw materials and energy, while the blue shades show the manufactured goods: chemicals, machinery & vehicles and other manufactured goods. Finally, other goods are shown in green. In 2020, EU exports of manufactured goods (84 %) had a higher share than primary goods (12 %). The most exported manufactured goods were machinery & vehicles (44 %), followed by other manufactured products (22 %) and chemicals (18 %). In 2020, EU imports of manufactured goods (87 %) also had a higher share than primary goods (12 %). The most imported manufactured goods were other manufactured products (43 %), followed by machinery & vehicles (39 %) and chemicals (6 %).

10. EU trade with Turkey by group, 2010-2020, Source: Eurostat
11. EU imports of goods from Turkey, 2020 Source Eurostat
12. EU exports of goods to Turkey, 2020, Source: Eurostat

Sources:

1; The Wall Street Journal: Turkey’s Troubles Point to Emerging-Market Risks as Economies Recover, Accessed: 19th of June 2021

2. World Bank. Country : Turkey : Overview. Accessed : 19th of June, 2021

3. Wikipedia: Turkish Currency and Debt Crisis, Accessed : 19th of June, 2021

4. Bloomberg: Turkish Economy Likely Outperformed Most Peers But at a Cost, Accessed : 19th of June, 2021  

5. Borzou Daragahi (25 May 2018). “Erdogan Is Failing Economics 101”. Foreign Policy.

6.“Inflation rise poses challenge to Erdogan as election looms”Financial Times. 5 June 2018.

7.  Matt O’Brien (13 July 2018). “Turkey’s economy looks like it’s headed for a big crash”Washington Post.

8. “Turkey’s Lessons for Emerging Economies – Caixin Global”http://www.caixinglobal.com. Retrieved 20 August 2018.

9. Goujon, Reva (16 August 2018). “Making Sense of Turkey’s Economic Crisis”Stratfor. Archived from the original on 16 August 2018.

Mediterranée Notre Mer à Tous & d’autres Documentaires de Yann Arthus-Bertrand// Mediterranean Sea: the sea of us all & other Documentaries by Yann Arthus-Bertrand


Après ses documentaires « Vu du ciel », « Home » ou encore « Planète océan » ou le nouveau “Human“, voici le film évènement de Yann Arthus-Bertrand réalisé avec Michael Pitiot sorti il y a quelques années en arrière.

Continue reading Mediterranée Notre Mer à Tous & d’autres Documentaires de Yann Arthus-Bertrand// Mediterranean Sea: the sea of us all & other Documentaries by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

A BARD’S LIFE OF LOVE: KARACAOĞLAN


Karacaoğlan is a 17th-century Ottoman Turkish folk poet and ashik. His exact dates of birth and death are unknown but it is widely accepted that he was born around 1606 and died around 1680. He lived around the city of Mut near Mersin. His tomb, which was organized as a mausoleum in 1997, is at Karacaoğlan hill in the village of Karacaoğlan, Mut, Mersin. In this regard, he was the first known folk poet and ashik whose statue was built.

His poetry gave a vivid picture of nature and village life in Anatolian settlements. This kind of folk poetry, as distinct from the poetry of the Ottoman palace, was emphasized after the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and became an important influence on modern lyric poetry, with Karacaoğlan being its foremost exponent.

Karacaoğlan was a captivating folk poet who took pleasure in capturing women’s hearts. He was handsome with dark features and soulful eyes. His love poems are among the most enchanting in the Turkish language. He sang these as he accompanied himself on a simple string instrument called the saz. Many of them were improvised when the poet was inspired by the delights of nature or the beauty of women.

The topics of his poetry reflect the nature in which he was embedded, along with the Turkish nomadic culture of the Toros mountains of which he was a part. The main themes of this poetry stemmed out of nature, love, longing for home, and death. As with other Turkish folk poetry of his time in Anatolia, his language was expressive, yet unadorned, direct, and simple. With a big heart, he fell in love with women and wrote poetry about them getting water from a fountain or making bread. His poetry were in the forms of koşmatürkümanivarsağıüçlemedestangüzelleme and koçaklama. More than five hundred of his poems have survived to this day.

This “bard of love” lived in the 17th century (no one really knows his years of birth and death). He was probably raised among nomadic tribes in Southern Turkey. But, during his long life (he lived to be seventy or possibly eighty), he roamed far and wide, singing his poems in innumerable places. He went to towns and villages in Anatolia and visited Egypt, Tripoli, and the Balkans. His life of love, of poetry, of music became legendary. Today, people in many parts of Turkey cherish Karacaoğlan’s simple, melodious, touching lyrics.

In his youth, Karacaoğlan was passing through a town. Strumming his saz, he came upon a rose garden. As he grew ecstatic from the vivid colors and the exquisite smell of the roses, suddenly his eyes fell on an indescribably beautiful girl sauntering among the flowerbeds. He stood there, bewitched. He was already feeling in his heart the flames of love – – and, unable to restrain himself, he broke into song. The lovely young woman took a few steps toward him and listened with heart and soul. When the song was over, she started to walk away without uttering a word. Alarmed that he might never lay eyes on her again, the poet implored: “You are the loveliest of all lovely women. Please stay a while. At least tell me your name?” She hesitated. Then, in a barely audible voice, she said, “Elif.”

Karacaoğlan was struck by the symbolic significance of “Elif”, a name common among the Turks for many centuries: It is derived from “aleph”, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, with the numerical value of l. Elif stood there, the epitome of gracefulness, dainty as a leaf. For the young poet, this slender girl was the beginning of all things.

They exchanged a few polite words. She had heard of the minstrel. After a few sentences, she revealed that she was married and had children. Karacaoğlan was distressed: He had found and lost his beloved in the same instant. He also found out that she came from a well-to-do family and could read and write.

Desperately in love at first sight, the young minstrel began to serenade this exquisite woman. He chanted a poem that has enchanted the Turks for more than three centuries now. The poem celebrates her among the many splendors of nature – – and bemoans the pain inflicted by unrequited love:

With its tender flakes, snow flutters about,
Keeps falling, calling out “Elif… Elif…”
This frenzied heart of mine wanders about
Like minstrels, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Elif’s robe is embroidered all over;
Her eyes – like a baby goshawk’s – glower.
She smells lovely like a highland flower,
With those scents calling out “Elif… Elif…”

When she frowns, her glance is a dart that goes
Into my heart: I fall into death’s throes.
In her white hand she holds a pen – she knows
What she writes, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Right in front of her home a trellis stands;
There’s Elif, holding glasses in her hands.
It’s as if a duck whose head has green strands
Gently floats, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

I am the Minstrel: your slave for my part.
There’s no love for other belles in my heart.
Unbuttoning the shirt, I tear apart
The collars, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Rumors were afoot among the people who heard these poems and songs that the handsome minstrel lavished on Elif. When her husband heard the rumors, he asked the feudal lord of the region to take action. Already in trouble because of his satirical poems criticizing the powers that be, Karacaoğlan was forced to leave town and his beloved Elif.

During his travels, he fell in love again – – this time with the daughter of another lord. He had just arrived in a town where he noticed a large gathering in front of a luxurious mansion. They told him the lord was holding a contest among poets. Karacaoğlan went in and sang a few of his love lyrics. Everyone was spellbound. He was declared the winner. The lord became his patron and often invited him to recite and sing.

Karacaoğlan found the lord’s daughter Suna adorable. But he was cautious and circumspect. One day, when he was strumming his saz in the garden, Suna came to him and said: “I just love your poems. Would you please compose a poem for me? Please…”

The minstrel broke into song immediately. For his Suna he started a poem that started with…

Loveliest of all, how lovelier you are now
Since no one else saw you, no one laid eyes on you:
That black lovelock of yours is curled up on your brow
Since there is no braid on it, just no braid on you.

and ended with…
Call, go on, keep calling out, Karacaoğlan:
The rock weighs heavy only in its own place.
The brave young man might cool off if his loved one
Gives him no embrace, gives him no loving embrace.

So, a passionate love affair started between Suna and the poet.
But, before long, her father heard about the affair and was so furious that he had Karacaoğlan thrown into jail.

After some time, Suna found a way of having him escape. About to leave, Karacaoğlan begged her to elope with him. But she was reluctant to abandon her family’s life of wealth and power for a wandering poet’s life of hardship. So, Karacaoğlan bade farewell and went on the road all by himself.

Wherever he went he was never without the company of beautiful women. They took a fancy to him…many of them chased him…they cherished his love lyrics.

Karacaoğlan always responded affectionately. When he ran into three wonderful beauties who did a special dance for him, he mused heartily and a bit naughtily:

If I were to love the elders the best,
Wouldn’t that be unfair to the youngest ?

The great Anatolian minstrel spent the rest of his life roaming villages and towns, hills and valleys. He had countless love affairs and composed tender lyrics as well as erotic poems for the women he loved.

Some of his poems express a chilling fear of death. It was as if the poet kept traveling far and wide to make it impossible for death to catch up with him:

Death, do not tire yourself out by stalking me;
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.
You won’t spare me, you shall have me in the end;
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.

I often roamed from this highland to that plain
Where I would eat, drink, be merry, entertain.
I kept fleeing from you, yet you came again.
Death, be gone for a while, come some other time.

Howling like the gray wolf has not been my fate.
This false world I can neither praise nor berate.
With friends and loved ones I failed to congregate.
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.

I am the Minstrel who is gripped by dismay
In the garden where nightingales sing and play.
Stop! You snatched my father and mother away –
Be gone for a while, come some other time, Death.

The people of Anatolia feel that Karacaoğlan escaped death, because his lovely poems and songs have achieved immortality.

His poetry in songs: Ala Gözlerini Sevdiğim Dilber ( A beauty whose hazel eyes I love)

A beauty whose hazel eyes I love
Don’t gossip about me with the world
Don’t stand before me showing your white neck
Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in the fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

I was crying for days, for nights, never smiled
I was searching, but haven’t found the cure for my anguish
For so many years had no gratitude
Show me some kindness, don’t send me away

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

A beauty whose hazel eyes I love
Don’t gossip about me with the world
Don’t stand before me showing your white neck
Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

Sources:

1.Prof. Talat S. Halman Chairman, Department of Turkish LiteratureBilkent University http://www.byegm.gov.tr/YAYINLARIMIZ/newspot/2001/sept-oct/n5.htm

2.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karacao%C4%9Flan