Jun 29th, 2013
In Turkey, Kurdish culture is having something of a Renaissance. Public expressions of Kurdish culture are now legal. Now a new cultural center has opened for traditional Kurdish story-tellers to practice their ancient art. Reporter Matthew Brunwasser sat in on a session.
Jun 15th, 2013
Turkey’s Islamic creationist guru Adnan Oktar is a regular fixture on his TV channel A9 – for hours and hours, day after day. Today, as he often does, Oktar is talking about one of his many exhibitions of fossils that he says disproves evolution. Oktar and his cult-like organization have been in the Turkish media space for decades. But only last year did he deploy his new weapon in the battle against Darwinism. A flock of ostensibly attractive, curvy young women.
Jul 14th, 2012
A class called the “Basis of Secular Ethics” is popular among the students. (Photo: Matthew Brunwasser) This year Russia required fourth graders across the country to take a religion class. There are six choices: Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, secular ethics or world religions. Most Russians consider themselves Orthodox Christians, but most did not choose that class for their children. Matthew Brunwasser reports.
Jul 13th, 2012
It’s show time in the studio of the new Al RTV channel. “Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh” says host Rustem Arifdghanov, a seasoned Azeri journalist who also heads the channel. He says the mission is to reconnect Russian Muslims with their faith after 70 years of enforced atheism during the Soviet era.
Jul 11th, 2012
Despite 70 years of atheist Communist rule, Russia remains a deeply conservative society with traditional Christian values. Pussy Riot’s “punk rock prayer” was not received well by most Russians. But the way state and church officials handled the punishment did not go over well either.
Jul 10th, 2012
What is the size of a large cookie pan, made out of baklava, and looks like a lumpy version of the famous Hope portrait of Barack Obama? The “Baracklava”. The idea was cooked up in the Gulloglu baklava shop in Istanbul. In the shop’s six decades in business, only three other historical figures, all Turks, have been so honored. Owner Nadir Gullu says the portraits require enormous craftsmanship.
Jul 10th, 2012
This is what extremism sounds like, according to Russian law. At the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in St. Petersburg, worshippers start their bible study session with a song. No other religious group has been hit so hard by Russia’s controversial anti-extremism law. In the past three years, the church reports that state authorities have arrested or detained more than a thousand believers, searched 148 homes and buildings, and banned 68 publications.
May 14th, 2012
The election to parliament of a bass player from the Greek Black Metal band Naer Mataron has the Greek media scrambling to find connections between facism and heavy metal. Chaos, as Greeks like to say, is a Greek word. And Greeks might agree that the election of a Black Metal musician to a country’s legislature does not bode well for political stability.
Aug 6th, 2011
In the refugee camps along Turkey’s border with Syria, at least five babies born to Syrian women have been named Recep Tayyip, in honor of the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. They are grateful to Turkey for opening its border to more than 15,000 refugees fleeing the violence next door. But at the same time, many refugees feel like prisoners in the refugee camps. While Turkey positions itself as a leading democracy in the Middle East, the refugees are not allowed to leave the camps — or talk to journalists. From the Yayladagi tent city, on the Turkish – Syrian border, Matthew Brunwasser reports.
Aug 6th, 2011
In Syria, the opposition to rule by President Bashir Al-Assad comes from a wide variety of groups, economically and socially. There are long time Syrian dissidents in exile, protestors inside Syria and refugees who have fled the current crackdown. Many of the groups met in Turkey last month and found it difficult to come together. One opposition group, made up of refugees who fled northern Syria, are working from a house in Antakya in southern Turkey. Matthew Brunwasser went to visit.