Recent work…

The cast of ‘Valley of the Wolves: Palestine’ pose for the press at the film’s premiere

Sorry for yet another hiatus. I have just got back from an extremely productive trip to Izmir, writing about the submergence of the Allianoi Roman baths beneath the reservoir of the new Yortanli Dam, and the draft nature law- of which more later.

I’ve been busy with a few other things recently. I had a piece in the Times late January about the debate over the new drinking regulations in Turkey, which you can read here.

From my story:

At the Cumhuriyet tavern in Istanbul the clock is frozen at 9.05am, the time that its most famous patron died.

It was here that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the revered founder of modern Turkey, would drop in to indulge in a glass of raki, the aniseed-flavoured spirit that many consider the country’s national drink.

The clock may stay the same, but the drinking habits of Cumhuriyet’s customers are changing radically because of regulations and taxes introduced by the country’s Islamic-leaning Government.

A new round of stricter alcohol regulations, brought in last week, has ignited a dispute over whether the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has governed Turkey for eight years, is seeking to erase the European-style social freedoms that Atatürk bequeathed to his nation. “In two or three years, alcohol consumption here has fallen by 50 per cent,” said Metin Danisman, who has been Cumhuriyet’s manager for 20 years. “It’s become a luxury item. People used to buy a big bottle of raki, now they only buy a small one.”

I also did pieces for the Times and SETimes about the controversial new movie, ‘Valley of the Wolves: Palestine’, in which Turkey’s favourite action hero takes vengeance on Israel for the raid on the Gaza aid flotilla last summer.

If you’re not sick of camel wrestling, you can also see my photostory on the festival for Eurasianet, here.

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