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05.12.2021, 17:54 268

A community engulfed in mist

In just two recent examples, the Cypriotturkish community in UK, at least a section, has shown how conservative, how right wing they are. They have proved right the long-held belief that people who live in the diaspora are indeed a lot more conservative than people they had left behind in their original countries. It is in fact arguable as to who have left who behind!

One of those examples was the reaction of a significant group to the fictional TV series, “Cyprus, Once Upon A Time”. The other is the current debacle of the flag issue involving Waltham Forest Council.

Both have been extensively covered, especially by hundreds writing comments in social media.

In particular, I read with sadness and concern those comments young Cypriotturkish people posted on social media on both issues. Most were nationalistic comments that verged on racism. The irony is, those making these comments accused others, for instance Waltham Forest Council of racism.

I have to say that the way Waltham Forest Council has dealt with the flag issue has been totally inept. They can indeed be accused of discriminatory practice, as they treated one group differently to the other. I am referring here to the Tibetan flag versus the TRNC flag.

As someone who has lived in the UK for 51 years, and who has observed the community from close quarters during the whole of this time, I put those who showed such reaction to those two examples in particular in 5 categories:

There are no academic basis to these observations. They are just my views based on my experience. In my opinion these observations are true for ALL Cypriots (BOTH Turkish and Greek Cypriots):

  • Those devoid of political consciousness. Those who without bothering to do research accept everything that is presented to them as fact. Including the official history that to a large extend is a propaganda tool.
  • People who are self-centred, always analysing things from their own or their community’s narrow perspectives, always seeing their own community as “victim”. Those who have been instilled with the concept of “enemy” and thus unable to accept and empathise with other communities that have been equally adversely affected by the Cyprus problem.
  • Those who see symbols like flags as a symbol of identity, not realising that these symbols are generally seen by most as symbols of nationalism. Those who do not realise that there is a thin line between nationalism and racism.
  • Those who are experiencing a crises of identity. For instance some of these “nationalistic” people have stated allegiance to their Queen. Do they know it has been the UK’s “devide and rule” tactics that had caused years of strife on our island? Or are they choosing to ignore this fact? I recommend this group to read the emminent academic Edward Said.
  • The last group are those who manipulate the above groups for their own selfish purposes, political or otherwise. This is the most sinister, the most dangerous group.

I wonder if these groups are aware that in Cyprus, more specifically in North Cyprus, people’s reaction to both these examples have largely been opposite to the reaction they in UK have shown. I think not.

I lived in Cyprus until I was nearly 18. I witnessed first hand that the role of the education system in my school days was simply to instill nationalism in young people. I have seen how flags were used as a tool in this indoctrination process. I see with joy that this is no longer the case, at least for Cypriotturks. This is thanks to progressive young teachers and their progressive teaching unions. Young people and generally the public in North Cyprus are no longer interested in symbols, slogans, politicians’ meaningless utterings. They strive for peace.

Cypriotgreeks have a long way to go. In recent years they were the obstackes to a just and peaceful solutions to the Cyprus problem. Those who are most adversely affected by the status quo in Cyprus are Cypriotturks, in particular young Cypriotturks. But Cypriotgreeks too will suffer the longer the present situation continues. So, they better show more willingness and flexibility to help achieve peace in Cyprus.

As for us, who live in the diaspora, our priority should be to improve our position in the UK, to achieve true integration here. We should forget about symbols, slogans and concentrate on real issues. We should not be fooled by those politicians who periodically come here and fill us with lies and empty promises.

At the same time we should do our best to help our compatriots in Cyprus with their attempts to finally bring peace to our long suffering island.

The reaction of another group has also baffled me. Those on the left who adopted the same nationalistic approach to both the series and the flag issues.

There is a saying in Turkish: “What diet, what pickled cabbage!”. “Bu ne perhiz, bu ne lahana turşusu!”. We utter this when we witness inconsistencies in people’s actions.

I saw that those who by their actions had time and time again proved their left wing credentials, on these two examples had adopted the same nationalistic approach. For example those who supported refugees and asylum seekers not just by attending marches, but by being in the forefront of providing them with practical assistance, those who always campaigned against the Tory’s attacks on the working classes, those who always criticised the Labour Party for being not left wing enough, etc.

The inconsistency of this group is particularly interesting and deserves to be the subject of academic research by social psychologists.

Yorumlar (2)
Fevzi 1 yıl önce
V thought provoking Ertanc abi
I think as a community we would be better served keeping the pressure on politicians to make sure our youngsters are given the life chances they deserve, instead of the dog-whislting noises we are seeing more and more in society (even within our own)
Shen 1 yıl önce
Really interesting article Ertanc abi, you raise a lot of really good points. Unfortunately there are many Cypriots here in London who are completely out of touch with what is going on over there & the hardship people face.
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