Free circumcision makes good politics in Turkey
By Ece Toksabay
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - - As an exercise in good governance, the mass circumcision ceremony for some 100 boys from disadvantaged families in an old Istanbul square ticks a lot of boxes for Turkey's ruling AK Party and its voters.
"Circumcision is an important tradition in Islam," Mayor Ibrahim Kavuncu told Reuters with pride 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 caps, the boys each carry a small staff. Shepherded into a circle around a janissary band, they practice waving the staves in time to the music.
A day later they will go to a private hospital for a fully paid circumcision.
In AK-controlled municipalities like Eyup, a gritty and pious neighborhood on the southern side of the Golden Horn inlet, connecting with people means giving them what they want.
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 festival, not only because it's a tradition but it offers a chance for healthy and hygienic operations for children," says 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. Continued...