For The Los Angeles Times: Last month’s constitutional referendum may have yielded a victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, enshrining vast powers for him and his Justice and Development Party, or AKP, but the results were far closer than his supporters were expecting, largely because of growing discontent within Turkey’s conservatives. Erdogan has counted on conservatives’ support for more than 14 years, but his authoritarian style of governance and his pragmatic foreign policy are pushing a segment of Turkey’s Islamists to turn against him. “The…Continue Reading “Erdogan’s authoritarian style and pragmatic foreign policy turn some Turkish Islamists against him”

For The Los Angeles Times: Ankara, Turkey — Light snow fell as Nuriye Gulmen carefully rested a whiteboard next to Ankara’s Human Rights Memorial, a statue of a seated woman reading a book. “Day 48. We want to return to work,” she wrote with a marker on the board, as a dozen protesters glanced at the pedestrians around them, looking for plainclothes police who might thwart their demonstration. Since a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, the government has imposed a state of…Continue Reading “Protest, get arrested, get released, then start again: One woman’s fight against Turkey’s crackdown on dissent”

For The Los Angles Times Athens — In a country where the Orthodox Church is part of Greek identity, Muslims have long found that new mosques could be built only in certain areas that did not include Athens, the capital. But an influx of mostly Muslim migrants coupled with an unabashedly leftist Greek government is bringing change. Authorities in October signed a nearly $1-million  (887,000 euro) deal to build the first state-funded mosque in Athens since the end of Ottoman rule more than 180 years…Continue Reading “As Greece’s government takes on Orthodox Church over mosque construction, minority Muslims stand to benefit”

For The Los Angeles Times Istanbul — Only one man has ruled the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Islam Karimov was the Uzbek leader even before independence, and he has held on to power for more than a quarter of a century with all the tools at a despot’s disposal, his many critics say. But Karimov’s grip on his country appears to be at an end, with persistent reports in recent days that he is…Continue Reading “Speculation swirls that the man who ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist for 25 years may be dead”

For The Los Angles Times: ISTANBUL — The Turkish police officer boarded a crowded commuter bus heading toward Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul and snatched the keys from the driver, leaving him and the passengers in stunned silence. A moment later, the driver at least managed a few words. “I don’t know what’s going on,” he told commuters heading home at 10:50 p.m. last Friday on the E5, Istanbul’s major east-west artery. Almost immediately, dozens of lightly armed police officers showed up, parking their minivans…Continue Reading “In Turkey, frightening moments of a coup attempt, with orders sent via a social media app”

For The Los Angeles Times: ISTANBUL — Nearly two years after shrapnel from a mortar shell hit his family’s Gaza Strip home and wrecked his upper body, Rami Abdusallam can finally move his right arm thanks to a team of Turkish surgeons. Abdusallam, who is from Rafah, at the southern edge of Gaza, said he had been sleeping in his bedroom when an Israeli shell crashed through the home’s roof. “One piece of shrapnel entered my shoulder and came out from my chest, and here…Continue Reading “Residents of impoverished Gaza Strip turn to Turkey for lifesaving medical care”