30th May 2009
Despite Bertrand’s claim, there’s another reason other than geography for keeping Turkey safely parked on the corner of Asia. It’s that religion of love business. As they do on a regular basis, Turkish authorities are after somebody for insulting Islam — in this case, a Turkish writer with French citizenship, Nedim Gursel, who wrote a novel called Daughters of Allah. According to ABC News, he could get a year in a Turkish prison for “humiliating religious values” — the Islamic ones, specifically.
In fact, the oppression of Turkish Christians enters its 556th year today. On May 29, 1453, Constantinople, ignored by the West, fell to the Turks. It was the last day of the Roman empire — which must have seemed an unthinkable event. I think Steven Runciman said it happened at 5pm (I don’t have my copy of his Fall of Constantinople at hand), when the Emperor tore off his Imperial eagle, threw it in the dust, drew his sword, and disappeared into the fight.