Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer convert to Islam

How much do I hate being right. Didn't I write only days ago that there are "signs that Turkey is finally succumbing to Islamism" (
Eh well, yesterday Netinfo's Web news started with a report about Pinocchio converting to Islam in Turkey. I cannot give this link (Bulgarian Web pages for news have short life span), but it was easy to find the same information in English. It will also spare me the need to translate. Below, I'm pasting from Telegraph's report Pinocchio and friends converted to Islam ( by Malcolm Moore. It is in fact nearly a month old.

"Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer and other characters have been converted to Islam in new versions of 100 classic stories on the Turkish school curriculum.
"Give me some bread, for Allah's sake," Pinocchio says to Geppetto, his maker, in a book stamped with the crest of the ministry of education...
In The Three Musketeers, D'Artagnan is told that he cannot visit Aramis. The reason would surprise the author, Alexandre Dumas. An old woman explains: "He is surrounded by men of religion. He converted to Islam after his illness."
Tom Sawyer may always have shirked his homework, but he is more conscientious in learning his Islamic prayers. He is given a "special treat" for learning the Arabic words."

What would you say if you open a new edition of the Arabian Nights and read how Ali Baba, while hiding from the forty thieves, prays to Jesus Christ his Savior?
I wonder, has the copyright protection of all these classics expired? And once a text is in the public domain, does it mean that every idiot can prey on it and do with it whatever he wishes? Somebody must have the mandate to do something in such a situation.


Non-Blogging said...

Well, despite the publications being idiotic, isn't it actually an encouraging sign against your allegation of Turkey succumbing to Islamism that the semi-Islamist Turkish leadership condemns the publications instead of endorsing them?

I wouldn't generally expect too much from Turkey in any copyright issues. Anyway, at least the writers aren't going to jail or are threatened with that unlike Turkish writers who have the courage to admit the Armenian genocide was a fact.

(Slightly off topic, saying aloud of which actually is a taboo even in the supposedly anti-genocidal and pro-freedom of speech United States, knowing that their previous ambassador to Armenia was fired for using the genocide word. Guess what an uproar it'd be if any ambassador to Israel tried denying the Holocaust?)

As to your question, such an Ali Baba would be a nice idea.

Sometimes I wonder if Middle Eastern people are ever offended by the surprisingly blonde and blue-eyed Jesus we can see around in countries where people are blonde and blue-eyes. It's unlikely Jesus ever looked like that in real life. Isn't that also be a racist attempt at bettering an incoveniently foreign-looking figure, adapting realities to the local cultural context..?

programmer craig said...

Hey non-blogging :)

Slightly off topic, saying aloud of which actually is a taboo even in the supposedly anti-genocidal and pro-freedom of speech United States

Not sure where you get that from, NBA. We have an estimated 700,000 Armenians in California, and we had an Armenian governor (George Deukmejian) for most of the 1980s. I assure you, we do know abut the Armeninin genocide, and we do talk about it. And we do condemn it.

The muslim Truks commited genocide on the Christian Armenians. Three quarters of all Armenians were killed. Armenians were completely driven out of their homeland.

I can say that anywhere in the US, and nobody will argue with me about.

Sometimes I wonder if Middle Eastern people are ever offended by the surprisingly blonde and blue-eyed Jesus we can see around in countries where people are blonde and blue-eyes.

I have a copy of the King James Bible that was printed over 100 years ago. It's illustrated with some beautiful paintings. Jesus looks like an arab in my Bible. He's even wearing the same kind of headscarf Saudi men wear, but it's blue and white instead of red and white.

In my experience, the blond haired blue eyed Jesus is much more common in Catholic Churches. It is silly, though. Jesus is described in scripture as being an ordincary and unremarkable man (in appearance) with nothing to set him apart from any other man. So, we don't know what he looked like exactly, but we know he looked pretty much the same as everyone else in the region, 2000 years ago.

Maya, this is silly and funny, in my opinion. If muslims want to Islamicize the "classics" it is only their own children who will suffer. No skin off my nose until somebody shows up in the US and starts trying to tell me the REAL story of Tom Sawyer :)

Maya M said...

I'll reply later, but, Non-blogging, if you are reading this and have time - my favourite Iranian blogger needs the help of a Finnish speaker. Details at

Maya M said...

I wish to know, why on Earth is the URL truncated? Eh well, go to
and find the post "Shah in Finland" (Sept. 28).

Non-Blogging said...


The sad fact that the US government still doesn't recognize the Armenian genocide as what it is is well documented. Some states do and so do apparently millions of individuals but no, White House doesn't. So, to your claim, you're surely free to say that aloud but George W. Bush wouldn't agree with you (neither any of his predecessors, whatever party they represented). Read these two links for example:

To avoid being labelled an America basher or anti-wight wing which I'm not, the (left-wing Socialist) Finnish president is exactly as much of a coward in this issue as any US government. So much for the moral superiority of either the world's sole superpower or for those leftists who think they've some moral ground when talking about human rights issues unlike the US...

Maya, I'll check that link later.

Non-Blogging said...


A correction to what I claimed above: it seems that Reagan admitted the genocide in 1981 but none of his successors (except for GWB as a candidate, no longer after taking the office).

Google for example us ambassador armenia genocide and you'll read a lot about this from various sources, Dhimmi Watch and pro-Armenian sites included not known for leftism, if you doubt that ;-).

This all is a great shame. I'm ashamed of the Finnish president but having followed her with unbelief and annoyance for years, this is all expected from the wimp ;-).

programmer craig said...

NBA, thanks for the links. I read them. It appears that the "genocide" word became a taboo in 1994. This is interesting, from when both houses of congress were set to pass a Bill explicitly naming it genocide in 2000:

Acknowledging that the bipartisan resolution “would have enjoyed support among the majority of the House,” Hastert noted that, according to the President, “the passage of this resolution may adversely impact the situation in the Middle East and risk the lives of Americans.” These were the first few weeks of the second Palestinian Intifada.

So. It's about terrorism. You hould be blaming the terrorists for this, not America, and not your own government.

However, since the US government is no longer appeasing terrorists, I see no reason why we shouldn't officially call it a genocide.

Oh, but wait. What about our "ally" Turkey, right? Well, I persoally don't give a shit about Turkey,a dn I don't support it joining the UE anyway, so who cares about their delicate sensibilities?

Don't worry, NBA, we all know it was a genocide and it is taught that way in our schools. What diplomats say is unimportant. Diplomats are professional liars anyway :)

programmer craig said...

Sorry for all the typos! Too early in the morning for me to be typing! Only had one cup of coffee so far :)

Non-Blogging said...

Craig, please feel free to have a cup of coffee but not Turkish coffee as long as this thread is still alive. Or just opt for Armenian cognac instead ;-).

Non-Blogging said...

Maya, by the way, thanks for the link. I went there and helped your favourite Iranian blogger only to be received with the most traditional warm Iranian hospitality one could expect ;-).

programmer craig said...

Hmmm.... now I've had half a pot of coffee, and played a round of Golf, but I still can't type properly! Oh well! Perhaps I should try proof reading instead of caffeine :D

Non-Blogging, you did more than translate :P

You have to be careful when walking into Iranian politics, there are many different factions and they're pretty hot headed.

Winston has a good blog. My favorite Iranian bloggers are these two:

Iranian Woman

Sheema posts ona lot of different issues. Wish she had comments enabled :)

Brooding Persian

H at brooding persian just got back from a long break. You can read all about it in his latest posts.

I recommend "h" at Brooding Persian to you highly because I think you'd really like him. He takes a very cerebral approach to issues, as you do, and doesn't seem to have much a political agenda. I disagree with him on about half of the conclusions he comes to, which means (in my opinion) he's probably pretty balanced.

Maya M said...

Non-blogging, I am sorry that you were offended at a blog where I sent you.
About the Turkish government - I think you are too optimistic. I ask, how did the crest of the educational ministry appear on the books in the first place? Once I co-authored a book meant to be a teaching material and I assure you it was much fuss until our book was confirmed to qualify for this crest. My guess: the Turkish authorities didn't think anybody outside Turkey would mention what's happening. Now they are embarassed, turned into laughing matter by Europeans while applying for the EU, so they really must say something. But even now, it seems that the Ministry of education doesn't promise to hold accountable those who islamize the Western classics, only those who use "slang and swear words".
As some Bulgarian commentors said, there is now criticism against these books, but with time it will settle down and the Turkish children will continue to read them.
There seems to be some allergy to truth in Turkey. The parallel to the much more important Armenian genocide is relevant. After so many years, Turkey still cannot admit it, puts its best writers to trial for talking about it and blackmails other countries not to "say aloud" of it. (Recently, a resolution condemning the genocide was proposed to be voted by the Bulgarian parliament but was blocked by the Turkish party.)
However, I don't think this bullying helps Turkey. On the contrary, I think the failure to confront their past has doomed the Turks to miserable present and most likely future. As Ortega y Gasset said, you must give the past its due, otherwise it will haunt you and claim even what isn't its due.
My impression is that the ordinary Turks are not bad, stupid or fanatic people. Rather, they seem to have little interest in politics and little understanding that ordinary citizens have the power and the duty to be in control of their state. And after they don't have this mindset underlying any functional democracy, the fact that they are good people becomes unimportant. I guess they were such also at the time of the genocide, but what was the use of their goodness? It didn't prevent their armed forces from exterminating the Armenians.
In a country where citizens are passive and alienated from politics, everything can happen. And of course Bulgarians are worried by any sign of bad things happening in Turkey, because it is next door.

Maya M said...

Sometimes an artist or writer deliberately "adapts realities to the local cultural context", but in such a case he must give clear signs of what he's doing. An example is Gauguin's "Ia Orana Maria". Otherwise I, like Programmer Craig, wouldn't approve very much a blonde and blue-eyed (or black) Jesus, because he mustn't have looked like this in reality.
Christianized Ali Baba and Islamized Tom Sawyer have the right to exist as parodies, if they are clearly labeled as such and not sold to children as the real thing.
I miss the children's books of my childhood with their beautiful realistic illustrations. Now, they all come illustrated with grotesque Disney cartoons. My son at one time had such a version of "Aladdin" - I'd never imagined that somebody could draw an Arab princess walking around in a kind of bikini.
The Islamized classics reminded me a falcification I witnessed years ago. Ironically, it was anti-Turkish.
"The Golden Calf" is a well-known novel by the satirical Soviet writers Ilf and Petrov. One of its characters, Shura, is ordered by his boss to buy a typewriter. He finds one, but its "e" letter is damaged and must be replaced with "э", which codes for a similar but firmer vowel. The boss is furious and says, "You are a pig, Shura, to buy a typewriter with Turkish accent!".
After our Communist government forbade the Turkish names and language in 1984, everything Turkish became a taboo. In cafes, the expression "Turkish coffee" was avoided. In the late 1980s, I bought "The Golden Calf". I had read an older edition and wanted a copy for myself. But there was a change! The boss was now saying, " buy a typewriter with a foreign accent!".
I took a pen and corrected my copy but, I thought, who would correct the other copies? The event seemed insignificant but made me feel very unhappy, as if the entire truth was disappearing.
After 1989, our satirical weekly paper "Starshel" devoted a special article to this case. It was titled, "Was Shura the only one who was a pig?".

shlemazl said...

Well; I don't believe in god, but converting Tom Sawyer ... Off with their heads!!!! I mean it.

Winston said...


Winston said...

Maya, I am adding your weblog to my list. Ok?

Non-Blogging said...


Thanks for the links. How come you ended up with somebody called "Iranian Woman" as the number one..? I'll tell Highlander about that and a shebsheb zanouba treatment is guaranteed :P.


Non-blogging, I am sorry that you were offended at a blog where I sent you.

There's no need whatsoever to say sorry for things like that which are not in your hands anyway. Ever. I used my freedom of speech and Winston used his, both within my boundaries of decency. That should never be apologized for. You remember this was my viewpoint also during the cartoon controversy when we learnt to know each other ;-). Just keep on sending me to other interesting places in the future as well!

I still think the books you mentioned are not very dangerous, to me not much more than Hollywood adaptations of fairytales. To me, Turkey has serious problems with what's allowed to say and what's not - that one really can't express any real criticism whatsoever on issues like Atatürk, Kurds, Armenian genocide or the like are far more dangerous than a fairytale book. These are issues that should block Turkey from joining the EU.

As for all the Mark Twain fans here, I strongly condemn that he stole my nationality without my permission and never paid any copyright money to me. I mean naming his hero Huckleberry Finn. Now that's a real nasty adaptation ;-).

programmer craig said...


Thanks for the links. How come you ended up with somebody called "Iranian Woman" as the number one..?

What's that supposed to mean!? OK I admit it, I saw her pic on an article she did and she's hot! But that has nothing to do with it, man... there are a lot of pretty Iranian female bloggers :)

Believe it or not, those were the first two Iranian blogs I started reading and they remain my favorites.

I'll tell Highlander about that and a shebsheb zanouba treatment is guaranteed :P.

I think she's making a list of transgressions for both of us :O

Maya M said...

Winston, of course you may put a link to my blog, I just warn that in a month or two blogging will became erratic, for family reasons.

Maya M said...

Non-blogging, you mentioned the eventual admission of Turkey to the EU. As a EU citizen, what do you think - do the European politicians seriously consider this opportunity, or are they decided not to let Turkey in and now just deceive and protract because of some reckless promise given in the past? I think they deserve a good shebsheb beating in both cases.

Non-Blogging said...

A very good question. Some in my opinion seriously want to get Turkey involved, whether it's for practical, economic or ideological reasons, some are apparently against it, whether it's once again for practical, economic or ideological reasons - or pure opportunism (read: fishing for votes). As for decision makers in the EU bureaucratic mammoth, some surely are for Turkey's admission, heck, that's what they get their living and reason to exist from...

I really don't know how much there is just postponing a nowadays uncomfortable decision to promise Turkey membership if certain obligations are met and which can't be taken back without a major political embarrassment.

Although I'm not a politician, I do oppose Turkey's membership for several reasons. The country itself isn't yet ready (and I think not even the most die hard pro-EU fanatics would claim it is now), it has serious problems in issues such as political and individual freedoms and, last but not least, Turkey isn't a European country either culturally or geographically. Unlike many opponents of Turkey's membership, however, my opinion has nothing to do with a perceived threat of mass immigration of Turks to other members states. I don't oppose Turkish workforce in rapidly ageing European countries, I oppose Turkey's participation in forming EU policies. Despite all that, I must admit that the fact Turkey was given the opportunity of joining the EU has anyway initially urged the country to start some beneficial reforms.

Knowing that Turkey can only become a member if unanimously accepted by the then at least 27 member states, some of which demand a referendum for that, the membership itself is nowhere near.

What do you yourself think about Bulgaria's eventual membership next year?

Maya M said...

As the end of Bulgaria's last year as an independent country is approaching, my skepticism about the EU membership is only increasing.
The passivity of the ordinary people and their alienation from politics which makes bad things possible isn't just a Turkish patent. I see much of the same in "old Europe". Bulgarians also suffer from this syndrome of "things-don't-depend-on-me" and it is expected only to deteriorate after even the formal right to decide our own affairs is taken from us and transferred to the Euro-bureaucrats.
You also know that I am concerned about WWIV (if we count the Cold War as WWIII). I don't see any use of EU in this war; in fact, it more often sides with the enemy. I recently saw on TV a newly developed European fighter jet. Instead of being glad that our guys have a new piece of equipment for the war, I thought, "Why the hell have the Europeans developed it? To sell it to Iran or Pakistan?"
I can imagine Europe dying, but I cannot imagine it fighting for the Western cause or just in self-defense. It seems to me as absurd as Bin Laden building skyscrapers.
You mentioned that European countries are ageing. This is because European women have few babies. Do you think this is because they are mutants deprived of maternal instinct? No, this is because they aren't supported by their societies and have fears for their children's future. It is easy to talk how great the EU is and to call bigots all who disagree, but if you are a woman considering whether to give life to a little "hostage to fortune", you have to face the truth.

Non-Blogging said...

Although we have mostly different motivations for that, it's nice to hear about a fellow Euroskeptic around :-). Will you have a referendum or something on the membership, by the way?

Maya M said...

No, we are not going to have a referendum. And there is actually no need of it, because the public opinion is well known. The majority of people are pro-EU. They think that after we become a member state, we'll receive much EU funds and the living standard will improve significantly. Bulgarian voters are so naive. Every time they see a person or party seeming to have "big money", they vote for him. They fail to figure out that even if the candidate really has the money, he has no reason to share it with them.

Non-Blogging said...

Sad you won't have one, although I wouldn't doubt the yes anyway. But it's a principle and would be a great opportunity to have an open public debate - propagandistic, no doubt but anyway - on the matter. We had one - which was surprisingly tight despite all the pro-EU drumming by the political and business leaders - in 1994. If we had a new one now, it might even be possible that the people would vote for Finland leaving the EU. Of course no such referendum is on the horizon as new ones are only held when the people vote "wrongly" (= against an EU initiative) like the Danes did regarding Maastricht.

In fact, I'm pro referendum in many other issues as well. At least then politicians can't hide behind the public opinion and the public can't say politicians make wrong decisions ;-).

Maya M said...

Yes, I have also mentioned that referendums for EU membership are held until a "yes" vote is obtained and then never again.
I am generally for representative, not for direct democracy. However, I agree that the public should have a say about important things such as the independence of the country. However, when the politicians have (1) the power to decide whether and when to perform a referendum and (2) access to opinion poll results, they just have to choose the appropriate moment when the fluctuating and often manipulated public opinion is in the mood they need. So the "will of people" is turned into a farce, like the elections won with 99% of votes.

Non-Blogging said...

Of course direct democracy wouldn't always be practical, although for example in Switzerland it seems to work well.

The problem with representative democracy in the case of Finland's EU membership was that our referendum was only consultative. Theoretically, if they people had voted no, the parliament which was to have the final word could have turned the decision into yes. I wonder whether they would've done that in case of a popular no. The other problem was that the parliament that decided on the matter was elected itself in 1991 when practically no political party advocated EU membership. People whose main decisive factor in voting for Party A, B or C then had been their criticism towards the EU would have waken up a couple of years later to see that the party they voted for had completely revised its stand on the issue. Of course people have the right to change opinions - thank God I've grown out of some idiotic opinions I held before ;-) - yet in cases like this it's hard to argue that repersentative democracy is the perfect solution.

Politicians here - with a few notable exception - seem to argue that many issues are so complex the ordinary people can't have all the information to make a sound decision unlike the decision makers who have access to far more information and are anyway voted to represent their voters. I don't always buy that point. Although it's true ordinary people often base their choices on superficial facts, who knows how much decision makers base their choices on trivial things such as career advancement. Many prominent Finns who opposed EU membership in the late 80s and early 90s turned coats and are now not only EU supporters but in high positions in the Finnish and EU establishment.