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“Turkish bizarre,” by Prof. Norman Bailey

Turkish bizarre
Truth is proving stranger than folktale as Turkey’s spins out of Prime Minister Erdogan’s control.

My mother, who was born in Constantinople (now Istanbul) and emigrated to the United States in 1915, used to tell us kids the stories told her by her mother and grandmother, of Nasr-ed-Din Hodja, a fictional Turkish Muslim cleric who lived with his “housekeeper” and endless bottles of raki (schnaps; firewater) and who said and did absurd things to the delight of generations of Ottoman children of whatever ethnic background.

The current situation in Turkey is beginning to resemble a Nasr-ed-Din story, with Prime Minister Erdogan playing the role of the Hodja. To wit:

He announces that his government will close the Gulenist preparatory schools, which is a formal declaration of war on millions of followers of the self-exiled Guru, Fethullah Gulen, who has been living for years in rural Pennsylvania (you can’t make this up). He thereby succeeded in turning a former ally into an implacable and dangerous foe.

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