Free circumcision ceromonies make good politics in Turkey
As an exercise and example in good governance, the mass circumcision ceremony for some 100 boys from poorest families in an old Istanbul square works mutually well for Turkey’s ruling AKP government and its voters.
“Circumcision is an important tradition in Islam,” informs Istanbul Mayor Ibrahim Kavuncu proudly at one of the citywide circumcision ceremonies, as he watched the boys and their families assemble in a square fronting Eyup Sultan Mosque to perform religious rites.
Draped in blue cloaks over cream satin shirts and wearing blue and white caps, the boys each carry a small wand. Gathered into a circle around a janissary band, they practice waving their wands in coherence with the music.
A day later they will go to a private hospital for a fully paid circumcision.
Free circumcision surgery : Uniting the people or just giving them what they need ?
In municipalities, where AKP won the elections, like Eyup, a gritty and religous neighborhood on the Golden Horn inlet, connecting with people means giving them what they want. AKP government state, regardless of any political bonus, the provision of free circumcision helps reinforce common religious and cultural values, while embracing more progressive standards of hygiene.
For any good Muslim family that would include having their boys circumcised, observing religious rites and providing a small feast for relatives and neighbors.
“We place great importance on the festivities, not only because it’s a tradition but it offers a chance for healthy and hygienic operations for children,” cites the mayor.
Built on the site where the Prophet Mohammed’s standard-bearer was reputed to have been buried during the Arab siege of Constantinople in 670, Eyup Sultan Mosque holds a special place in the history of Islam in Turkey.
And many fathers from outside the neighborhood and beyond Istanbul, bring their sons here to pray when they are circumcised.
For the boys the operation will mark an early affirmation of their faith and a step toward manhood — albeit though some are infants and others are some years off puberty.
Only 10% of Turks bring their kids to surgery
For their families, it is a religious obligation, but also an expense that many find difficult to afford. The operation can cost anywhere between $300 and $800, while paying for the spread and celebrations can typically cost over $1,000.
Dr. Sefik Ersan, an Ankara-based surgeon who has carried out more than 5,000 circumcision operations, estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of Turks take their kids to surgeons.
Many parents choose to pay non-qualified “sunnetci” — traditional circumcizers who often pass their skill from father to son — or barbers despite the risks of performing the procedure outside a hospital or clinic.
“Some parents demand the operation to be carried out at home. I tell them complications may occur, although the chances are one in a thousand,” Dr. Ersan said.
“Breathing may stop, or drug allergies may be observed. Intervention in such a case would be much harder at home, it’s best not to take risks and take their kids to a medical facility in line with their financial resources.”
“Other more common complications include infections, bleeding, damage to the urinary tract, intoxication, gangrene of penis head,” he said, before adding another danger that may haunt the boy in later life.
AKP Government connecting people in Ramadan with free meal
When Ramadan begins in August this year, the Eyup municipality plans an open-air breaking of fast for 20,000 people on the Galata Bridge, straddling the Golden Horn.
The funding of municipalities has been a bone of contention between the Turkish government and the International Monetary Fund when the two were negotiating a possible new stand-by loan agreement, an option Turkey eventually turned down last year.
World Health Organization data suggests that circumcision is the norm for Turkish men regardless of whether their families are observant or more-secular minded Muslims.
Free Circumcision Surgery, Circumcision Surgery, Circumcision, Circumcision Islam, AKP Government, Politics, AKP Turkey, Circumcision Turkey, Turkey Traditions
Hey Paul.It was good to read your post. Circumcision is one of those topics that gnereates a lot more heat than light, so to read someone posting sensible opinion is a good thing.In Australia, where I am, the rate of circumcisions for infant males is now very low it used to be about the same rate as the US.At the moment the circumcision proponents are pushing the keeping-you-safe-from-HIV line, which is causing some issues. Several men who have emailed me believe that circumcision prevents you from transmitting HIV which it doesn’t. The preventative effect, if there is one, is weak. Better to use condoms.Anyway keep up the good work!Col
You must log in to post a comment.