Inter-faith ping-pong

Mardin ping pong

Charming images from Mardin in Turkey, where World Table Tennis Day featured a match between an imam and a Syriac church chorister:

Mardin ping pong 2

Of course, the winner was friendship, peace, and table tennis. 

FatmaThis may sound a tad Kumbaya, * but it’s in line with the pleas of Fatma Yavuz for greater religious tolerance in Turkish society. Incorporating gender into the debate, she was among a group of thoughtful, articulate women speaking at a recent series of online panels on Freedom of Belief and Gender in Turkey—here’s the third session, with Fatma’s contribution from 49.18:

More on that initiative coming up soon.


* The wiki entry on Kumbaya is interesting. The song goes back way before the 1950s, when it emerged from its African roots in the southern States to enter into the wider consciousness via the civil rights movement. By the 1990s it was often used in sarcastic criticism of the kind of consensus-compromise politics “that allegedly does not examine the issues or is revelatory of cockeyed optimism”; “singing Kumbaya is not a foreign policy strategy”. More e.g. here.

3 thoughts on “Inter-faith ping-pong

  1. Seeking gender equality in all spheres is one thing but demanding that a woman should be at the head of Religious Affairs is another. What needs to be questioned is the existence of such an institution in a secular state. Hoping that question might come up sometime in the future as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Nur, that’s a fine, principled point! It rather reminds me of the Chinese Communist Party muscling in on the right to identify the reincarnations of high Tibetan lamas, the absurdity of which tends to get lost in the wider picture of Chinese repression in Tibet.

      So, sure, in Fatma’s contribution she doesn’t have time to reflect on the wider issue of Turkish Republican stances towards religion—which I’m sure have been much discussed, as in the Chinese case and those of other “secular” nation-states, which tend to recognise the need to regulate (sic) “religious affairs” in a still imperfectly secular society. Instead, Fatma goes for the specific point about an established institution. But gender is indeed among her major themes, and one might like to hear her giving a broader introduction to the issues confronting women under Islam.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate your reference to Kumbaya, especially the last link, a list of the changes in meaning that the tune underwent since the 1920’s! The various functions of ‘music’…

    Liked by 1 person

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