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 — 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”

Why Turkey is still refugees unwelcome

For IRIN News: The joint EU-Turkish action plan to end the migration crisis not only aims to make Europe a much less appealing destination – with threats of detention and deportation for all new boat arrivals to Greece – but also depends on making conditions more tolerable for the 2.7 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey. One of the main factors driving Syrians to abandon life in Turkey and move on to Europe has been Ankara’s reluctance to lift barriers to the formal labour market….Continue Reading “Why Turkey is still refugees unwelcome”

Leaving ISIS

For The Boston Review: -Sanliurfa, Turkey: This time, Hammad did not expect to escape alive. He knelt on the side of a desert highway leading from Raqqa to Aleppo, fingers intertwined behind his head, where an ISIS fighter pointed a machine gun. “They told me I had committed a crime against Islam, against God,” he recalled of the five men who abducted him. We talked in Sanliurfa, Turkey, about fifty kilometers north of the Syrian border. A thin, wiry twenty-two-year-old with a penchant for chain…Continue Reading “Leaving ISIS”

For The Daily Beast: While Cairo hands down death sentences, Ankara allows the Brotherhood to open TV stations. A close look at a rivalry shaping many Mideast conflicts. ISTANBUL — Walid Sami fusses over a cup of green tea in the crowded apartment he shares with another Egyptian and six Syrians in a quarter of Istanbul’s Fatih district overlooking the Golden Horn. “Turkish tea is too bitter,” says Sami, 28, tall and thin with a wispy beard, dressed in worn blue jeans and a green…Continue Reading “Turkey Nurtures Egypt’s ‘Terrorist’ Muslim Brothers”

The Hunted: Tracking Uzbekistan’s long arm

For Foreign Policy: Uzbekistan’s president has jailed, tortured, and murdered his opponents at home. Now, he’s hiring hit men to track down and kill dissidents abroad. ISTANBUL — A cold drizzle fell on Istanbul on the morning of Dec. 10, 2014, as Abdullah Bukhari made his way to teach his students at a madrasa nestled amid apartment blocks and hardware stores in the Zeytinburnu neighborhood. A white prayer cap on his head, Bukhari made two crucial departures from his daily routine, according to one of…Continue Reading “The Hunted: Tracking Uzbekistan’s long arm”

For Truth-out: Gaziantep and Suruc, Turkey – A dozen men huddle around a campfire in the Turkish village of Ma’sariya, 700 meters north of the Syrian border. They are a fraction of more than 120,000 Kurds who have fled an attack by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Kobani, the strategic town just across the border in Syria. It’s too cloudy to see the US jets flying above, but they make plenty of noise. Applause breaks out at the sound of explosions…Continue Reading “How the US Intervention Against the Islamic State Has Alienated Syria’s Sunni Arab Opposition”

Turning the Uyghur East

For The Revealer: KASHGAR, XINJIANG, CHINA — “U-yu-ghur, we say U-yu-ghur,” Hajji Abdulaziz* gently explains to me, as I take a seat at the front of his fabric shop, blankets and seat cushions in a dizzying array of colors, stacked from floor to ceiling. A smile cracks across his face, floating in the middle of short white facial hair, and he reaches for a piece of cardboard and a pen. “See, this is how it is written.” Abdulaziz slowly writes out the word Uyghur, in…Continue Reading “Turning the Uyghur East”