The mainstream media in the U.S. has been put in a very uncomfortable position with regards to the Turkish riots. If you notice in a vast majority of the news reports, the reasons for the protest movement are mentioned in only vague terms. Some media outlets point to a decision by the Erdogan government to turn a popular park into a shopping mall. Buried paragraphs down, in some news reports, a passing reference to recently enacted bans on alcohol.
Incidentally, I contacted reporter Joe Parkinson with the Wall Street Journal yesterday, questioning him as to why he ignored the alcohol angle. (18 paragraph article and not a single mention by Parkinson of "alcohol.") He wrote back condescendingly:
I see you're in Texas. We live in Turkey... I don't think you know what you're talking about do you? Let's just agree to disagree, since you are coming to this from a faraway angle...One media outlet is reporting the whole truth, PolicyMic, "Turkey Alcohol Ban: Is Erdogan Legislating Islamic Morality?":
Abdullah Gül, president of Turkey, approved a bill restricting the sale and advertising of alcohol on Monday. This debate about alcohol is considered one of the reasons Turks have taken to the streets in the Taksim Gezi Park protests. The bill, introduced by the Parliament's General Assembly on May 24, features many regulations similar to those imposed on the cigarette industry in Turkey since 2009.
The sale of alcohol between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. is prohibited and punishable by a fine, according to the bill. All advertising will be completely banned, including sponsored activities, festivals, and free giveaways. On television and in films images glorifying the consumption of alcohol will be banned and images of alcohol will be blurred.
Like cigarettes, all liquor bottles will have to display warning signs about the potential harms of alcohol. Alcohol will be prohibited in health institutions, all sorts of education institutions, sports clubs, and gas stations. (Emphasis added.)Continuing:
protesters are enraged, saying the ban is a slight against their secular values. The ban is only one of many issues fueling the anti-government protests, but it feels like a direct stab at the Turkish identity as both sides have described the turmoil as a conflict between Islamic and secular values. In Taksim Square in Istanbul, many exhausted protestors popped bottles of Efes beer and toasted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in response to the passing of the bill.
Merve Vural, a 20-year-old college student, said that "We're students and we're always going to find ways to get alcohol. They are imposing their religion on us. They are doing it very slowly." (Emphasis added.)To acknowledge the alcohol angle, the media would indeed have to admit that the students are libertarian-minded, and that the riots are motivated by opposition to the nanny-state and to Islamism. And it all strikes uncomfortably close to some of the Obama administration's nanny-state, prohibitionist policies: Opposition to lowering the drinking age from 21; restricting alcohol advertising; pushing states to lower blood alcohol level for DUI to .05%.
A Muslim hardliner pushing prohibitionism in Turkey, his ally and friend pushing prohibition in the United States.
Exit comment - I hope to never see my new "buddy" Joe Parkinson of the WSJ ever commenting on Texas politics, since he, well, you know, lives "faraway" in Turkey, and wouldn't know what he was talking about.