My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Covering up in Istanbul..

The other Hitchens talks about a worrying trend...
Down a glum, dark back alley in Istanbul, I found a sinister sight. In a workshop two stern and bearded men were bent over sheets and patches of very black cloth, their sewing-machines whirring urgently.

I was plainly unwelcome and they objected to the very idea of being photographed. I quickly saw why. They were making dark robes and masks for women to wear. They looked to me as if they longed for the day when every woman in sight was clad in their workmanship.

They knew the women would wear them, because one day, not far off, they would have to. These robes would be, literally, a 'must-have' for the women of Turkey.

Those who think of Turkey as a relaxed holiday destination, or as a Westernised Nato member more or less 'on our side' need to revise their view.

And that very much includes our Prime Minister, David Cameron, who last week joined in the fashionable chorus urging Turkish membership of the European Union. Mr Cameron plainly hasn't been properly briefed.

Leave aside the fact that such a step would allow millions of Turks to live and work in Britain, and give us - as EU members - a common border with Syria and Iraq. Mr Cameron really ought to realise that the new Islamist Turkey he so ignorantly praises is much more interested in making friends with Iran than it is in joining the EU. And it is becoming less free and less democratic by the day.

I would say there is a strong chance that we will soon lose Turkey to the Islamic world, much as we lost Iran to the ayatollahs 30 years ago. And there is not much we can do about it - least of all the daft scheme to include this nation in the EU.

Panic-mongering? Well, perhaps. But I would rather monger a bit of panic now than ignore what I saw.

I will come in a moment to the bizarre alleged plot against the Turkish state, which has swept dozens of government opponents into prison in dawn raids.

But first let us take a stroll round the Istanbul district of Fatih. It is noon, and the rival calls to prayer of two mosques are wavering in the baking, humid air.
The sun going down over the Istanbul sky line

There is a strong chance that we will soon lose Turkey to the Islamic world

Not far away is a gigantic Palestinian flag draped over the side of a building. Nearly opposite, a group of pale, intense men in turbans loiter on a street corner whispering into their mobile phones. Where am I? The flag suggests Gaza. The whispering men bring to mind Peshawar or some other Taliban zone.

Or am I in Saudi Arabia? For round the corner comes a phalanx of veiled women, under the vigilant eyes of a bossy man in a prayer cap. There are several grades of these women. First there are the wholly shrouded, their downcast eyes glimpsed through a slot, imprisoned in shapelessness. Most disturbing for me - because I have been to Iran - are those in chadors exactly like those commanded by the ayatollahs in Tehran. There is something particularly harsh about the inverted triangle through which their pale and sombre faces peer.

With them come the women they call 'Tight-heads' - 'Sikmabash' in Turkish. These are a new feature of Istanbul since I was last here a few years ago, in evidence all over this enormous city.

They are mostly young and often attractive. But they have swathed their heads tightly in voluminous, brightly coloured scarves. Their lower limbs are covered by long dresses or trousers, and over this, in the oppressive heat, they wear thin raincoats. Such outfits are available in a successful chain of shops called Tekbir, which means 'God is great'.

Covering up the female sex is big business here now. The owner of an independent Islamic clothes shop complains to me that trade isn't as good as it used to be because he now faces so much competition. He notes that more and more of his clients are young women, rather than conservative rural grandmas.


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