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13.12.2021, 13:07 439

Dealing with racism is a serious business

Last week, around 100 Turkish Cypriots (source: Waltham Forest Echo) protested in front of Waltham Forest Town Hall, against the Council Leader’s decision to order the taking down of the TRNC flag. A very insignificant number of protestors considering the claims that the population of the community is more than 300k. Even the figure of 400 given by the organisers is insignificant.

I stated in my previous articles on the issue that the Council Leader’s decision could indeed be regarded as ethnicity-based discrimination. There can be no explanation for treating two peoples in same categories (both of the lands they associate with are unrecognised by UK) differently.

However, I would like to direct some questions to these protestors. Perhaps the organisers can answer them on their behalf:

Since you are insisting that this is about the racism the Turkish Cypriot community suffered on the grounds of their ethnicity;

  • What have you done against the systematic attempst to eradicate the Uyghur Muslim Turks in the Xinjiang region of China? How many of you have demonstrated in front of the Chinese Embassy about this issue?
  • You say the TRNC flag is your identity. Do you agree that a much more important element of identity is language? If so how many of you campaigned against the removal of Turkish language GCSE and A’Level exams (alongside others)?

Readers will remember a big campaign was organised by the Turkish language and culture schools to save Turkish exams. We managed to collect just over 2000 signatures for the campaign. Iranian community collected 20k, the Polish community around 15k in a very short time.

  • Continuing on the theme of education, it is a well-known fact that Turkish speaking children (including children of Turkish Cypriot background) do not perform as well as many other ethnic groups at schools. One reason for this is the racism our children face by the education establishment. How many of you supported efforts to fight this racism? How many of you demonstrated in front of DfE, sent letters to schools, etc.?
  • The youngest ever Council Leader in Enfield, Nesil Çalışkan was facing attacks from her own party when she defeated the previous Leader. How many of you supported her in her fight? In fact, when the then CTCA Chair was asked this question she was rumoured to have responded “she is Labour, we are Conservatives. We don’t care what happens within that party”.
  • In the last nearly two years, we lost a disproportionate number of Cypriots to Covid-19. The other communities have stated categorically that their losses were as a result of racism, and are currently campaigning for answers from the Tory Government. How many of you did anything on this issue?
  • How many of you tackled Boris Johnson for his racist comments, or are you overlooking that due to his Turkish ancestry?
  • You read TRNC President Tatar’s message of support for you on Thursday night with pride. How many of you were aware of Tatar’s own racist comments about the African students last Summer when he was Prime Minister? How many of you supported the campaign of the students that led to him issuing an apology to them?
  • How many of you supported the “Black Lives Matter” protests last year? Or are you in support of the slogan “All Lives Matters”, which has been adopted by the white supremacist in USA?

These are just a tiny number of racism examples.

Racism is about teachers having very low expectations of certain children which resullts in them not achieving their full potentials. This as I explained above is what Turkish Cyppriot children have been suffering for years.

Racism is about people being attacked and sometimes killed because of their colour, race, nationality, ethnic origin and religion.

Racism is not being invited to an interview because you have a foreign name, even though you are more qualified than some who have been shortlisted.

Racism is being sent to a land you are not familiar with even though you have been living and working in the UK legally for over 50 years, because of the fault of the Home Ofice. Some of the Windrush Generation Caribbean people are still suffering from this injustice. I don’t know if any Cypriots who arrived in the UK around the same time have suffered the same faith.

Racism is being slapped with a much higher prison sentence for the same crime because of your colour, religion or nationality.

If the protestors are serious about tackling racism, they need to be ready to defend anyone facing racism, not just themselves. They need to be actively fighting against racism in every sphere of public life, and not just over symbols.

I can’t conclude without mentioning the interview of a Council of Turkish Cypriot Organisations representative by the Euro Genc TV reporter Alp Ermiya.

Ermiya: “The saddest thing was the fact that the Council Leader ordered a Turkish Cypriot to take down the flag”.

CTCA Rep: “I don’t know whether the person taking the flag was Turkish or “zenci”. (The direct translation of this Tukish Word is negro. She probably meant to say “siyah – black”). She went on saying: “One of our demands is for all councillors to go through racism training”. I leave the interpretion of this to my readers.

The flag issue has indicated a growing feeling of nationalism among a section of young Turkish Cypriots. If young people are approaching the very serious issue of racism, including racism they themselves suffer over symbols like flags, then we are in very serious trouble as a community.

Yorumlar (5)
Nick Halebi 13 ay önce
A columnist is what you say you are and I respect that, so therefore I will forgive you on the basis that the information that you have before you is no more than here say, the flag was brought down by a council worker who happened to be Turkish Cypriot and he certainly was not Black furthermore I would be very carefully taking the debate somewhere other than this was a Turkish Cypriot celebration which the council agreed could go ahead until the republic of Cyprus authorities interference.
I have received 198 complaints made against myself personally to the Council all referring to a territory 2000 miles away and events which took place over 47 years ago which has nothing to do with freedoms and rights and privileges granted to all citizens of the United Kingdom. One of the complaint made against me refers to social media comments I have made about Chinas treatment of the Uyghurs, the concentration camps and how the authorities in China are murders.
If you want to have a meaningful debate one that is fair an honest, I am prepared to have such a debate with you.
What is perhaps more disturbing is your insistence that the protesters were Conservative supporters which is total nonsense it would be honest to have said that it was your believe or opinion that they may have been.
As you troll social media sites for news for your next column you might wish to check out my social media site and see my thanks to the Lib Dems for the only party the only impartial statement and supported the Turkish Cypriot protest
Olgun 13 ay önce
If we are to be judged as guilty by our absence then all those organisations mentioned here are as guilty for not being with us in our plight. What a nonsensical accusation by a mixed up man.
Ertanch Hidayettin 13 ay önce
Talk about a “mixed up man”!!!
Kazim Altan 13 ay önce
Thank you for a clear ctitique of the recent demonstration fueled by nationalism which is often divided by a hairline from racism, the reason for the protest.
As you clearly state, if the diaspora were looking for a cause to protest, then they can, in future, look to the list that you have provided, the most recent being our community's disproportionate losses during the pandemic.
The last time the Turkish cypriot commu ity demonstrated at Waltham Forest Town Hall when the council was meeting was in October 1988. We went to protest about our children's failure at school. The Council responded positively and some good was done for the next few years. When support was withdrawn, the TC community turned Inwards. Where were these heros' then? WHERE WERE WE ALL WHEN PEOPLE DIED in drones DURING THE PANDEMIC?
Olgun 13 ay önce
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