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.
Z kuşağı yanıtlıyor: Türkiye'de Kurulacak olan 67. hükümette, Cumhurbaşkanlığı koltuğuna ve iktidara kim geçmelidir?
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