Thursday, November 23, 2006

whats in the Turkey!

( Ottoman Sultan)

It’s Thanks Giving, and for Americans it means a national day where the whole family gathers to celebrate this national holiday by eating a Turkey.

While it is known that Thanks Giving is celebrated to commemorate the original settler’s survival in the New World.
But where did the name “Turkey” come from? What kind of relation the name Turkey has to do with the country of Turkey?

Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis wrote in the New York Review of Books in 2003 that the reason Americans or “westerners” named the exotic bird they encountered in the new world “Turkey” because for one it was a strange, exotic and unknown bird to them, and since the Ottoman Empire at the time, the 17th century, was an unfamiliar and exotic landscape for most westerns especially that the Ottoman “Turkish” Sultan was also exotic looking with his colorful turban and attire. So according to Lewis analysis, the Western pilgrims named the exotic unknown bird they encountered “Turkey” because Turkey also represented an exotic unfamiliar place to them.

A Harvard scholar however wrote that Westerners who visited turkey in the 16th and 17th century saw a native Turkish bird called "├žulluk" that looks like the Turkey bird however smaller, and when they encountered the Bird in the new world, they mistakenly thought it was the same bird.

But also, there is this theory that explains the reason for the naming mistake by the Europeans was that they called an African bird called now called " Guinea Foul" which came to Europe via Turkey as the "Turkey Cock" hence the name " Turkey" when the encountered the Turkey bird in the New World.

Interestingly, however, the Turks do not call the Turkey” Turkey”, the name for it in Turkish is “ Hindi” from “ Hind” which is India, so it is called the Indian Bird.

The reason is that the Turks thought the Bird was originated in India.

In Arabic the bird is called the Ethiopian bird “ Deek Habash” ( Deek is rooster or bird) because Ethiopia was called Abyssinia and Habash is Arabic for Abyssinia.

In Egyptian Arabic the bird is called “ Deek Roumi” which means a Roman Bird. Perhaps if I follow Bernard Lewis analysis, the Egyptians associated the bird with the westerners or even the Roman Emperor because the Roman Emperor, much like his Ottoman Sultan counterpart sported a crown and colorful attire.

( Charlemagne,Holy Roman Emperor)

In Macedonian Slavic the bird is called simply Misir which means “the Egyptian bird” (Misir, for male bird and Miserika for female) the Arabic word for Egypt is “Misir”

This like going after a wild Turkey chase!

But what do they call this worldly bird in India.

by now I thought India would have the answer to this chase, but to my utter surprise, i found that the bird does not even exist in India.

And I also found that there is no word for it in any of the Indic languages I researched!
Still, i asked few Indians i know about it.and they said that there is no Turkey or a name for it in India.

This is shocking eh!

However,the common theme I found when digging the archeological eytmology of the word “Turkey” was that in most European languages, the Bird is always called or referred to as an Indian Bird or the bird from India or from the Indian city Calcutta.

The reason for that I think it had to do with the Greeks who originally called it “Indike ornitha” which means Indian Bird.

In polish its called “Indyk” while in Russian its “Indjuk”
while in Portuguese the bird is called “Peru” named after the country Peru.

In Mandarin Chinese it is called the hu ji, which roughly translates into “fire chicken”, while in Japanese it is called shichimenchoo, which means “the Seven-sided bird”

The bird is perhaps truly native to the new World, America, but almost every country and major language in the world named him after another country that thinks is far away and exotic.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Democrats are here

It is a good day today for the Democrats. With the US national election in full bloom and the Democrats will have clear majority in the US House of representatives while the Senate, with the Democrats picking up three more seats, is still up for grab and it go either way.

The victory for the Democrats is a referendum on President George Bush’s performance and policies during his reign in the past six years.

The War in Iraq was a major factor in the Democratic sweep f the House. The sentiments of the American people were against this war and see it as a killing ground for American troops.

Republican candidates even tried to distant themselves from the unpopular president whose approval ratings kept sinking further with every new poll.

One Republican candidate even ran an add advocating leaving Iraq and “ divide the country if we have to” in order to just get rid of this nagging problem called “ Iraq”

Security and terrorism issues apparently did not top the issues for American voters, which were the Republicans strongest issues. But other domestic issues such as stem cell research, minimum wage and the economy played a major factor in the Democratic sweep of the House.

In the Arab world, the US election was followed very closely, its news topped Aljazeera broadcast as Americans were heading to the polls yesterday. But with Israeli killing off Palestinian civilians by the dozens in the town of Biet Hanoon in Gaza strip for a week now, it was hard for the US elections to remain on top of the news.

The US election will have special meaning for Iraq and its new leaders. Maliki and others in his Shia coalition have so much stock with the Republican administration. Maliki and other Shia leaders wish to see American troops remaining in Iraq until they consolidate their hold on power. But with new Congressional leaders hostile to this war, Maliki has so much to worry about now that the US congress will no longer give him a blank check anymore.

While Muqtada Sadr, the young Shia leader who’s “ Mahdi Army” is implicated in sectarian killings of Sunnis and other Shias, is looking forward for an American withdrawal from Iraq.

For the Palestinians, a democratic Congress might offer a reprieve form George Bush’s “ evangelically driven” policy regarding the Israeli Palestinian issue. Bush’s “ Vision” for peace remained just that, with his base of neo-conservative and evangelical Christians see that Israel has a divine right to occupy the Palestinians areas forever, or until Jesus comes.

The Democrats, however, are no less enthusiastic supporters of Israel than the Republicans. But without the “Evangelical baggage”. Joe Lieberman was reelected senator for Connecticut is a very staunch supporter of Israel and one of the war in Iraq biggest advocates. Despite his wining on an Independent platform, he will be caucusing with the Democrats.

Rham Emanuel, a rising Star Democrat from Illinois will end up holding key leadership position in the new Congress is a duel Israeli/American citizen and had served in the Israeli Army.

It does not look good for Palestinians regardless who is in control of the US Congress. Israel has killed over 80 Palestinian civilians in a week offensive inside the densely packed Gaza strip with no end in sight. The world stared at these tragic massacres retardedly.

The Arab world, Arab commentators argue, would like to see a more balanced approach of the US polices in the Middle East. With Democrats in power in Congress,it might put brakes on or at least slows down President Bush’s more aggressive polices in the Middle East and furthermore hasten the withdrawal of the US troops from Iraq even if that meant Iraq will plunge in a full-scale bloody civil war destroying the entire country, but that would be an Iraqi problem.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The verdict on Saddam

Perhaps history will not be kind to Saddam Hussein, but history, for certain, will register that Saddam was sentenced to death by no less brutal state than his was.

By any respectable legal standards, Saddam’s trial was a joke, a kangaroo court, but the trial was not about legality or about legal justice, it was more like “a reality vengeance show” which is now has become a norm in the tribal Iraqi society.

Iraqis have killed and dragged the dead bodies of their past leaders in the streets of Baghdad since the inception of the modern state of Iraq. Starting with the HashimiteKing Faisal in the 50s all the way until the draconian rule of Saddam took strong hold over Iraq.

No doubt that Saddam has committed grave injustices and crimes against the Iraqi people, and have killed and caused to be killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. He deserves to be brought justice, the problem however, is that those who are administrating justice were themselves former terrorists and militia leaders who plotted, killed and assassinated Iraqis while Saddam was in power. It is an ironic twist of history.

Nouri Maliki for example, the current Iraqi prime minister himself was a terrorist who attempted to assassinate Tariq Aziz former foreign minister of Iraq during the eighties. His Iran-made-based organization, Dawaa party, has waged military campaign against Iraq from Iranian territory. If Maliki were an American citizen, his past actions (against the state, or the head of the state) would warrant a trial for high treason and he would be executed by American justice standards. He is now, however, a leader of Iraq. What is the difference is really there between him or any other new Iraqi chief and Saddam!

Since Iraqi “ liberation” 650.000 Iraqis were killed according to published reports, a staggering figure for three years worth of democracy in Iraq, and over 18 billion dollars were looted from the Iraqi oil revenues by the new rulers of Iraq. Not to mention that the “ new” Iraq is a failed state where sectarian militias and government death squads fight each other for turf and profits. The new regime cannot say that they are better than Saddam regime or that Iraq today is in better shape than it was under Saddam.

The sad reality is that the innocent victims of Saddam’s crimes, Kurds, Sunnis and Shias were victimized again when their own country is being looted, robbed, and torn into pieces by the new order of power.