Posts by Hakan Demir - Istanbul

Turkish newspaper ‘Zaman’ calls for national unity at a time of polarization

Turkey’s ethnically diverse society often struggles with the question, “How can we stand together as a nation, for we are actually a mosaic?” The nation is in search of its binding element. Currently, Turkey is enjoying a good economy, but is more polarized than ever by religion (between conservatives and liberals)—unity is more at stake than it ever was. At times like this, the Kurdish freedom struggle finds great opportunity—Turkey’s Kurds have been seeking independence for 30-plus years—but the ruling party is seeking agreements with Kurdish representatives, unlike previous governments.

Best-selling national newspaper Zaman, read by voters of the ruling party, tried a positive approach to bringing the nation together in a late 2012 ad titled “A call for unity and brotherhood.” Set to soothing string instruments and a sturdy drumbeat, the commercial shows Turkish citizens of many ethnicities and occupations joining hands in a joyous human chain that’s encircling the nation. A singer explains how all people in the world want freedom, and despite differences, tolerance is within reach. On-screen text explains, “This is a call for unity. This is the time for unity.” At the end of the ad, we see a Kurdish Peshmerga, either a freedom fighter or a terrorist, depending on one’s perspective. Though some considered the Kurdish element provocative, most have been supportive of the spot, feeling that it’s time to find a new middle ground.