The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
BOYCOTT TO MANDATORY RELIGION CLASSES
Turkey's Alevi's federation announced that the Alevi students will not attend religion classes if their protest on October 9 does not end with positive results. Fevzi Gumus, chairman of Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association says: "There are several verdicts of European Human Rights Court stating no one can be forced to attend religion classes. However, AKP Government is reluctant to release a decree saying Alevi students are free not to attend religion classes. All Alevi students have to apply to the courts personally to get their rights. If our protest on October 9 will not end with positive actions of the government, all Alevi students will boycott only the mandatory religion classes and we are ready and prepared of its results."
ALCOHOL RAID TO ART GALLERY
400 art enthusiasts who filled Galerinon, Galerioutlet and Eclitsis, three art galleries in Istanbul's Beyoglu district that opened the new season with galas, were attacked by a group with tear gas, sticks and bottles. The group chanted religious slogans and shouted: "you cannot drink alcohol here." It broke the windows of the galleries. Dozens of people were battered and five people were wounded. Painters Nazim Hikmet, Richard Dikbas and Sevket Kazan got stitches in the head.
The victims complained that the police who were nearby did not intervene and told them to call the police hot line. It was striking that none of the assailants were taken into custody. Firat Saka, one of the guests of the gala said, "they choked our friends and sprayed tear gas in their mouths. They made such an entrance, I thought they were going to kill us. A second Sivas incident. They tried to lynch us. We were locked [in] for one and a half hours."
IT WOULD HAVE CAUSED A WAR IN THE PAST
Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who is currently in New York for the U.N. meetings, told the AP that the raid on Mavi Marmara aid ship was unacceptable. Gul said: "it is not possible to pretend as if this incidents had never been happened. In the past, such an incident would have caused a war. However, today international laws should be taken into consideration."
PKK'S CONDITION FOR A 'LASTING CEASE FIRE'
Talks between the head [of the PKK terrorist organization] Abdullah Ocalan and the related units of the [Turkish] state will continue. The government shall consider Peace & Democracy Party (BDP) as an interlocutor and give positive messages for a solution. Aysel Tugluk --deputy chairperson of Democratic Society Congress, which was set up by the banned Democratic Society Party, is expected to meet with Ocalan in Imrali Prison on Friday.
BUSINESS ASSOCIATION HEAD DEMANDS NEW CONSTITUTION
Head of the Turkish Industrialists' & Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) Umit Boyner renewed a call for a new constitution in Turkey, saying "I hope the polarization of the referendum process is left behind. We are expecting a new constitution that makes freedom of conscience, the identity issue and checks and balances the elements for unification."
GLOBAL COMPASSION FOR TERROR VICTIMS
A special section was added to the draft resolution on terrorism at the U.N. Security Council, thanks to Turkey's efforts. Turkey's proposal was submitted to the approval of the 5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members of the council and approved unanimously.
With the document that will take effect as of September 27, the solidarity and aid system for families of security personnel killed in action and veterans implemented in Turkey, will be wide spread around the globe. Terror victims and their families will be [cared for] globally for the first time.
I AM ASTONISHED: WHAT KIND OF A COUNTRY IS ISRAEL, GUL
President Abdullah Gul who reacted strongly to news about an appointment with Israeli President Shimon Peres, said: "How can an appointment that was not even made in the first place can be cancelled. It is really difficult to understand Israel."
Gul, who underlined that neither himself nor Peres requested an appointment, said "news in the Israeli media started to appear. They wrote that we turned down the offer. I don't understand this mentality. What they are [saying] is very wrong."
NEIGHBORHOOD IN SOUTHERN TURKEY SEEKS ONLY KEMALIST RESIDENTS
A residential area in southern Turkey's Antalya province has distinguished itself with a sign announcing that only Kemalists live there.
The sign at the entrance to the Fevziefe Site in the Lara district features a Turkish flag and a portrait of Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. "This is an area where Atatürkist, secular, democratic people live," reads the sign. A flagpole with the Turkish flag is also at the main entrance.
The three-block area also features another sign that lists the rules for the neighborhood. "Rules for a contemporary life in our contemporary neighborhood," reads the sign. The first item on the sign's list is: "Have a secular-democratic-Atatürkist mentality." The second item says: "Have the neighborly qualities to live in a contemporary neighborhood." The remaining articles are about keeping the environment clean and paying taxes.
The sign was erected by Fevzi Efe, the now-deceased owner of the land the three-block site was built on. Efe defined himself as an Atatürkist and wanted people who think like him to reside at the site. İbrahim Efe, grandson of Fevzi, said there is no discrimination in the neighborhood and they are like every other area except for the signs.
Gülgün Gökalp, one of the site's 300 residents, said she is very happy to live there. "I've lived here for one-and-a-half years. As there are no different rules or practices here. I believe all the residents are people in love with the Turkish flag and the Atatürk picture on the sign of the site. In short, I am fond of my site."
Çisem Aydın, another resident, said: "The love of Atatürk is in the people's hearts. Blessed are the people who feel that love in their hearts."
Gülcan Harım, who also lives at Fevziefe Site, said she had just stepped outside her home after praying and noted: "My lifestyle is no one else's concern. That sign was present when I moved to this site and I've never witnessed any kind of factionalism."
'I DO NOT HAVE THE SMALLEST CONFIDENCE IN ERDOGAN'
During his 3-day visit in Brussels, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu held talks with the European Parliament Socialist Group leader Martin Schulz and the Vice President of the EP Socialists Group, Hannes Swoboda. Schulz, who expressed his full support to Kilicdaroglu, shared his feelings of mistrust towards Erdogan as they were leaving.
Schulz stated that they had talked 4-5 times with the Turkish Prime Minister. "However", Schulz continued, "Erdogan makes promises every time like an actor. I do not trust him a bit."
Kilicdaroglu told Schulz during their conversations that he was deeply disappointed with the European institutions and European Socialists, who supported the constitutional amendments, which passed in the referendum held last Sunday, changing the structures of the high judicial organs. "With these amendments the Minister of Justice has a say in every matter concerning the judges. This form of arrangement you would have never allowed to be put into practice in your own countries. I am wondering how it could be that, despite this fact, you don't feel any discomfort when these kind of changes are made in Turkey" Kilicdaroglu said.
The European Parliament Socialist Group leader Schulz listened to Kilicdaroglu's discomfort and worries about the effects these amendments would have on Turkey's judiciary. Schulz told Kilicdaroglu that the European Parliament will closely observe the implementation of the laws concerning the judiciary, which were subject to the constitutional amendments. Schulz said: "As European Union we have to look into this matter very carefully. As the European Parliament Socialist Group we will ask the European Union Commission to closely observe the developments and provide us with reports."
Following these talks, the tense atmosphere between the Vice President of the European Parliament's Socialists Group, Hannes Swoboda and the CHP, that was caused by a recent crisis, was also resolved.
CHP deputy chairman Haluk Koc told Swoboda that criticism on the CHP was misused by state-controlled media in Turkey and that he expressed his desire to work closely with them in the future.
THREATENED TURKISH NEWS MEDIA REACHES EU AGENDA
Growing concerns about freedom of expression in Turkey will be high on the agenda of the European Union in the post-referendum period, European diplomats have said.
"It is obvious that we will follow more closely such attempts [to limit freedom of expression]," an ambassador from one of the EU countries told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday. "We know it is a very delicate issue. We try to address it from time to time."
European diplomats commented specifically on the case of Bekir Coşkun, a veteran columnist critical of many government actions who was recently fired from his newspaper, daily Habertürk, allegedly as the result of pressure from government circles.
"If he was fired due to the government's pressure, then this is very serious," another EU diplomat said, comparing the Turkish government's treatment of writers with a critical stance to actions taken by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Such treatment is not appropriate under universal principles [of human rights], the diplomat said.
Recent reports by international press organizations such as the International Press Institute and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Representative on Media Freedom have urged the Turkish government to take the necessary steps to secure legal and social rights for journalists. The OSCE also asked for the immediate release of 48 journalists who have been arrested for their journalistic activities.
In its annual reports, the European Union often criticizes the Turkish state for putting pressure on media groups and individual journalists who publish critical coverage of the government.
According to the diplomats, the next annual EU progress report, expected in November, will likely revisit the ongoing issue of the world-record tax levy imposed on the Doğan Media Group, the parent organization of the Daily News.
Press freedom, and specifically Habertürk's decision to part ways with columnist Coşkun was also on the agenda of opposition chief Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu during his recent visit to Germany. Criticizing the EU for not being vocal enough on violations of fundamental human rights in Turkey, the head of the Republican People's Party [CHP] called for more action from his social democrat counterparts.
After being briefed on the developments, Sigmar Gabriel, the chairman of the German Social Democrat Party, said violating [the right to] freedom of expression is a key obstruction on Turkey's road to the EU [membership]. "There should be no censorship and a reporter should not be fired just because he expresses his opinion," Gabriel said. "I have not been informed enough on the topic [of Coşkun] to make any comments. I can just say that freedom of thought is one of the most important subjects in EU integration."