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Turkey’s Traditional Cologne Industry Witnessing Historic Boom Amid Looming Threats Of Covid-19

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While Turkey’s coronavirus cases are likely to surge, there is still some good news for the nation as Turkey’s traditional cologne industry is witnessing an upward tick.

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Turkey on Friday started testing all suspicious cases against coronavirus in more cities with the arrival of 15-minute diagnosis kits from China and as the government gradually increased the number of labs to 36 from 16, the number of positive cases is likely to increase beyond the current figure of 359.

Earlier, Turkey screened with a homemade 75-minute diagnosis kit that detects the virus and focused primarily on people who came from abroad or were in touch with foreigners who recently arrived in the country and transferred thousands of people directly from airports to 14-day quarantine at hostels around the nation.

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The outbreak has so far claimed four lives in the country, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday. But just as there are two sides to every coin, Turkey’ coronavirus outbreak also has a positive and a negative story to it.

On one hand, it has slowed the country’s growth and increased economic burden as Turkey battles to contain Covid-19, but on the other hand, it has also seen a jump in the sales of its traditional cologne not just in Turkey itself but in faraway Germany too.

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As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled a $15.4 billion plan to help businesses ride out the economic storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic including a set of new measures from tax cuts and payment deferrals for businesses to an increase in minimum pension payouts, Turkey’s central bank also came to rescue its economy by cutting borrowing costs by a full percentage point and announcing a series of measures to boost liquidity amid the coronavirus outbreak, pushing its interest rates adjusted for inflation near the world’s lowest.

The benchmark rate was cut to 9.75% from 10.75% at an emergency meeting, the central bank said.  Turkey’s seventh straight rate cut follows a crash in oil prices that can help mitigate its inflation and current-account woes and comes as central banks around the world roll out stimulus measures to counter the pandemic.

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But even as coronavirus pandemic has shuttered shops and battered financial markets in Turkey, sales of Turkish-made cologne are skyrocketing. And it’s not because people are worried about how they smell.

At a tiny neighbourhood in Istanbul, there is a steady stream of customers buying the cologne. They’re squeezing into the shop which has a wide array of fragrances, ranging from lemon and lime to green tea, spice and fig blossom, ranging from about $3 to $8 a bottle.

A lot of Turkish cologne brands have long been made with 80% alcohol and it’s not only because of its disinfectant properties that sales are booming but also because colognes are used in the Turkish tradition of splashing hands when arriving at or leaving someone’s home, a restaurant or elsewhere.

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Fears of the virus don’t seem to be deterring people from crowding into small shops and buying their favourite cologne. But Turkish cologne is also enjoying a spike in sales in Germany, where the threat risk from the coronavirus was recently raised from “moderate” to “high.”

Germany is home to some 3 million people of Turkish descent. A cosmetics producer near Frankfurt said he was having trouble meeting the soaring demand. He said his company had cut production on several other products to put all available resources into making cologne, working double shifts to turn out 12,000 bottles per day.

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Srebrenica genocide: Pakistan draws similarity between 1995 Srebrenica massacre with Kashmir

Drawing a parallel between Srebrenica genocide, and the current situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan said he feared a massacre similar to that in Srebrenica could happen in the disputed Himalayan valley.

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Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan on Saturday urged the world community to “learn a lesson” from 1995 Srebrenica genocide, and “not let such massacre happen again.”

“Today, we are observing the 25th memorial anniversary of the genocide that took place in Srebrenica. I still remember the day very well along with most people who have humanity in their hearts. I remember when it happened. we were shocked. We were appalled how in a what was a safe haven of United Nations peacekeeping forces, this massive massacre was allowed to happen.

“I still feel the shock how such a thing could have been allowed by the world community, Khan said in a video message aired by state-run Pakistan Television. “I think, It is important that we learn lessons from that, the world community must never let such things to happen again,” he went on to say.

Drawing a parallel between Srebrenica genocide, and the current situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan said he feared a massacre similar to that in Srebrenica could happen in the disputed Himalayan valley.

“Today, 800,000 Indian troops have besieged 8 million people of Kashmir. And we all fear a similar sort of massacre might follow there,” he said, adding: “So the world community must take notice, and never allow such acts to take place there.”

Kashmir and Palestine

In a Twitter post, in connection with the 25th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “July 2020 marks 25 years since the Srebrenica Massacre, the murder of over 8000 Bosnian Muslims & ethnic cleansing of over 20’000 people. The world has a collective responsibility to ensure history is not repeated.”

“What is happening in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine is chillingly similar,” he added, referring to Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and New Delhi’s scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s longstanding special status in August 2019.

Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the genocide are buried in a memorial cemetery in Potocari, eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thousands of visitors from various countries attend the funeral services and burials.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will participate in this year’s memorial program via video link. During a two-day visit to Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo last year for a similar event, Erdogan attended a procession to commemorate thousands of innocents who fell victim to the genocide.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb forces attacked the UN “safe area” of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch troops tasked with acting as international peacekeepers.

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces who were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.

The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladic — later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide — overran the UN zone.

The Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 Srebrenica residents fled into the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 of them in the forests.

UK ‘stands with’ all feeling Srebrenica genocide pain

British administration on Saturday “reiterated the UK’s commitment to supporting reconciliation across the Western Balkans,” on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Today (11 July) marks twenty-five years since the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of the Second World War,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) statement said.

“Today I stand with all who continue to feel unimaginable pain from the genocide 25 years ago at Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter.

“The United Kingdom has worked to support justice for the victims, find the missing & promote reconciliation,” he added.

Underlining that more than 8,000, mostly Muslim men and boys, were murdered and over 20,000 women and children were forcibly expelled from their homes, the UK urged “all parties to reject hate speech and the glorification of the perpetrators of genocide and war crimes.”

The statement also said the “verdicts from international and domestic courts must be respected.” Raab said: “On the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, we remember the victims and the anguish of their families.

“During my time in the Hague between 2003 and 2006, pursuing those responsible for this dark chapter in European history, I was reminded daily of the heinous cruelty perpetrated against the innocent.

“The UK is determined to end impunity and help rebuild those countries affected – as our commitment to the ICC, and UK investment and support for Bosnia demonstrates.”

Turkey pays homage

he Turkish president on Saturday remembered the Srebrenica martyrs on the 25th anniversary of the genocide. “We will always stand by our Bosnian brothers in their search for justice. The Srebrenica Genocide will never be forgotten,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video message.

As part of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, Erdogan spoke via video link at the memorial ceremony held at the former accumulator factory used by the United Nations troops as a base in the war in Bosnia.

Erdogan stressed that despite all tragedy and tears, European politicians have learned no lessons from Srebrenica Genocide, adding that free use of words that “fuel enmity towards Islam and support xenophobia is a source of concern for our future.”

“Even though it has been a quarter of a century since the genocide, our pain is still fresh. Our hearts wrenched with every mass grave unearthed,” he said. Erdogan wished God’s mercy on Srebrenica martyrs and patience to their families, their loved ones and to all who feel pain in their hearts.

 

By Aamir Latif, Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

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Palestinian prisoners in Israel – Prison death brings back Palestinian plight in Israel

“The suffering of Palestinian detainees is exacerbated by the deliberate medical negligence by Israeli prison authorities,” Abdel-Naser Ferwana of the Commission of Detainees’ Affairs said.

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The recent death of Palestinian prisoner Sa’di al-Gharabli in Israel has put the issue of long-serving Palestinian prisoners under the spotlight. Al-Gharabli, 75, died at Assaf Harofeh medical center last week after his health deteriorated, according to the Handala Center for Detainees and Ex-detainees.

Al-Gharabli, from the Gaza Strip, was arrested by Israeli forces in 1994 and sentenced to a lifetime in prison. “The suffering of Palestinian detainees is exacerbated by the deliberate medical negligence by Israeli prison authorities,” Abdel-Naser Ferwana of the Commission of Detainees’ Affairs told Anadolu Agency.

“Prison authorities deny medicines and necessary medical care to the detainees,” he said. Ferwana said Palestinian prisoners in Israel are subject to torture and physical and psychological pressures by the prison authorities. “They are deprived of family visits, which adds to their plight,” he said.

Palestinian authorities estimate that over 5,500 Palestinians are currently languishing in prisons located throughout Israel. According to the commission, 51 Palestinian prisoners have been held in Israel for over 20 years. Around 224 Palestinian detainees are estimated to have died in Israeli prisons since 1967, five of them passed away this year.

Of these numbers, the commission estimates that 73 prisoners had died due to torture and 69 to medical negligence.

Longest-serving

There are around 26 prisoners in Israeli custody, who were arrested by Israel before the signing of the Oslo Accords with the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993.

In 2013, Israel released 78 long-serving Palestinian prisoners as part of a US-sponsored deal for the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Israel, however, refused to set free a fourth group of 26 prisoners under the deal.

In October 2011, Israel freed 1,027 prisoners under a prisoner swap deal with Palestinian resistance factions under which captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released.

Among the freed prisoners were 477 who were serving lifetimes in prison. On the top of the list of longest-serving prisoners in Israel is Kareem Younis, 62, who was detained in 1983 and sentenced to life in prison on accusations of killing an Israeli soldier.

His cousin Maher Younis 61, who has spent 37 years in prison, is also serving a life sentence on similar accusations. Nael al-Barghouti, 63, was also detained in 1978 and sentenced to life on charges of killing an Israeli soldier. Al-Barghouti was freed in 2011 under the prison swap deal with Palestinian factions, to be rearrested in 2014 along with 70 other freed prisoners.

Ferwana, who himself a former detainee, called for piling political and legal pressure on Israel “to provide protection to Palestinian detainees against Israeli violations and guarantee their release”. He went on to call for “taking serious measures in international arenas to bring Israel to justice over its practices against the detainees”.

Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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Hagia Sophia: Turkey turns iconic Istanbul museum of Hagia Sophia into mosque

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Mehmet the Conqueror, and was presented to the community as a mosque. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque,” a status that cannot be legally changed.

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The iconic Istanbul museum of Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque. Hours after a landmark court ruling Friday (July 10), the Turkish government confirmed that Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia will be reopened for worship after an 85-year hiatus.

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The nearly 1,500-year-old architectural gem will be transferred to the state Religious Affairs Directorate under a presidential decree, according to a Friday announcement in the Official Gazette.

Earlier Friday, ruling on a petition filed by an Istanbul NGO, Turkey’s Council of State overturned a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum.

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Mehmet the Conqueror, and was presented to the community as a mosque. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque,” a status that cannot be legally changed.

After centuries of use as a church under the Byzantine Empire, in 1453 Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by Mehmet II following his conquest of Istanbul. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum. Posting his decree on social media today, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed best wishes for the change, which he has long advocated.

While details of the change are not yet known, Turkish officials have pointed out that many famed houses of worship, such as Paris’ Notre Dame and Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, are also open to visitors.

“Opening up Hagia Sophia to worship won’t keep local or foreign tourists from visiting the site,” Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman, told Anadolu Agency in an interview this week. Turkey is home to people of many faiths who can freely exercise their religions, he added.

World Reacts To Decision On Hagia Sophia

The Russian Orthodox Church expressed shock at Turkey’s decision to withdraw the museum status of Hagia Sophia, blaming it of disregarding voices of millions of Christians. “The concern of millions of Christians has not been heard,” Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida stated.

“Today’s court ruling shows that all calls for the need for extreme delicacy in this matter were ignored,” Legoida said.

UNESCO said its World Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia’s status, saying it was “regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialogue nor notification beforehand”.

“UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialogue without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session,” the UN’ cultural body said in a statement.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides tweeted –  Cyprus “strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations”.

Christodoulides said Turkey’s “escalating, flagrant violation of its international obligations is manifested in its decision to alter the designation of Hagia Sophia, a World Heritage Site that is a universal symbol of the Orthodox faith”.

Later, Greece called Turkey’s move an “open provocation to the civilised world”. “The nationalism displayed by Erdogan … takes his country back six centuries,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.

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