Today I attended the Turkish “Anatolia” Festival at Yonge and Dundas Square in Toronto, expecting a wonderful experience filled with Turkish culture, art, food and music. I had been looking forward to this festival for weeks as I have a very special place in my heart for Turkey and its wonderful people, and couldn’t wait to get a taste of everything Turkey.

Unfortunately what I came across was anything BUT Turkish, but everything Islamic. One of the most noticeable things when I arrived was the fact that 90% of the women who were either selling tickets or were in the booths were covered from head to toe with the Islamic Hijab. Turkish women are some of the best dressed, beautiful and modern women in the world; however anyone attending this festival would have been left with the impression that Turkey has an Islamic dress code for women, as there were very few women who were not covered head to toe. What was more disturbing was the clothing booth selling Islamic Hijab outfits at very discounted prices, while there was not a single booth selling or advertising either Turkish modern clothes or the gorgeous and colorful traditional outfits worn by women while performing traditional dances.

In terms of music the major featured band was a NON-Turkish group called Dean-Squad who are known for their Islamic music. I have nothing against this band and had not heard of them prior to the Turkish festival; however I was left very confused about why a Turkish Festival organized by the cultural branch of the Turkish Embassy would not feature a Turkish band for their festival… While I did not have an opportunity to watch Dean Squad’s performance, I did have a chance to watch another live performance of a Turkish groups who seemed to be chanting the Arabic word “Allah,Allah” which means God, instead of singing anything in Turkish.

Other areas of concern were the displaying of the Ottoman Empire Flag beside the Turkish red moon crescent and star flag. One of the major differences between the Ottoman Flag and the Turkish Flag is the representation of the “Caliphate” the Supreme religious leaders of an Islamic State within the Ottoman Flag. The Ottoman Flag represents the Caliphate in green colors and the Sultanate in red colors. While the Ottoman Flag represents Islam as much as the Ottoman Sultans, the current Turkish Flag is secular and does not represent Islam. For the first time in my life I attended a Turkish event where the Ottoman Flag was displayed along with the Turkish Flag no doubt to represent Recep Erdogan’s strong Islamic affiliation.

I was sad to see there was not even a single picture of Mustafa Kemal ATATURK, the founder of Republic of Turkey who modernized Turkey and created a secular government. Ataturk is a well loved and respected figure in Turkey; in fact his surname Ataturk means “the Father of Turks”. The Islamic Government of Erdogan has done everything in its power to reverse everything Ataturk did to secularize and modernize Turkey, however I can’t see the people of Turkey allowing Erdogan to get away with that.

The festival was not all bad as I had a chance to meet a wonderful Turkish woman who hand makes beautiful soaps, and had a chance to speak to two beautiful and talented ladies who had come from Turkey to display their art first in the Montreal Jazz festival and then in the Turkish Festival in Toronto.

Unfortunately apart from those three wonderful ladies there was nothing Turkish about this so called Turkish festival. Turkish art, music, cinema, clothes and literature was all missing, however Islamic clothes, books and culture were plentiful.

After waiting for weeks to attend this Turkish festival I left disappointed, confused and mostly sad for Turkey and its wonderful people who are being represented by an Islamic Extremist Government who is doing everything it can to change a secular and modern country into an Islamic Dictatorship. While disappointed I also have great faith and hope in the people of Turkey, the descendants of Ataturk who will not allow Erdogan’s dictatorship to destroy their country.

Long Live a free and secular Turkey


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