Is Turkey Kosher?
As I arrived at the gates of a major manufacturer here, I was told by the security guard that I would have to remove my kippa (skull-cap) before I would be permitted to enter the premises.
I had also been told to remove my kippa when I visited the Mausoleum of Ataturk in Ankara.
Stories abound of frightened Jews in Istanbul, which has suffered several devastating bombing attacks in recent years, including on two synagogues – and who are apparently now considering increased emigration from this ancient Jewish center, to Israel.
The thought crossed my mind, for just a moment, that I should protest the command to take off my kippa – as an anti-Semitic and racist directive.
However, a second perspective on the event led me to think again.
Today’s leader Erdogan has made some steps to bring back more Islamic behavior to this avowedly secular state. But not really got very far.
Erdogan’s AKP party tried to revoke the longstanding ban on religious girls wearing headscarves on University Campuses. They argued that by banning scarves, the effect was to forbid religious girls from obtaining a university education; a pretty compelling argument, methinks. However, this was defeated – and the ban on headscarves remains.
Both Ataturk’s mausoleum and the manufacturer I visited are bastions of Turkish secularism.
The reason I was asked to remove my kippa is because these places ban all religious head-gear. This is not aimed at the Jewish Kippa, but at the Moslem Taqiyah skullcap and the women’s hijab headscarves. It is not anti-Jewish – it is anti-Islamic.
I’m not sure that makes it any better, in the broader view of things, but I took off my kippa without further ado, while forcing a smile to the guards.
It’s easy to confuse signals – and get one’s wires twisted.
Like you thought, from the title, picure and first line, that this article was about kashrus and turkey meat.