Belgium: Apologizing for anti-homophobia book saying Ataturk was homosexual

Ataturk is in good company, according to this book.

Marie Arena, the education minister for Belgium's French-speaking community in the Walloon region, made a request yesterday for a meeting with Turkey's ambassador to Belgium in an apparent effort to explain the publishing of a book in which the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, is listed among the important homosexual and bisexual personalities of history.
Belgian sources on the same day emphasized that the Belgian government was by no means involved in the publishing of the book.
"The issue is extremely sensitive, and Belgian officials have eventually noticed their mistake," Yusuf Seki, press officer of the Turkish Embassy in Brussels, said yesterday, noting that following the embassy's warning, the ministry had decided not to publish in the next edition of the book a list of "Famous homosexuals and bisexuals in history" in which Atatürk was included. He also said that Arena's request for a meeting with Ambassador Fuat Tanlay has been accepted, without specifying an exact date.
Arena also sent a letter to the embassy in which she said her government had no intention of insulting Atatürk. Arena's spokesperson, Jennifer Wilquot, speaking with Today's Zaman, admitted that it was "a mistake" to put Atatürk's name on the list. As Wilquot avoided elaborating on what reference they had relied on for putting Atatürk's name on the list, other Belgian sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Today's Zaman: "The source of that list was a California-based Internet site, and unfortunately those who prepared the book didn't feel the need to check the information already provided publicly on an Internet site. It is a copy and paste accident." Responsibility for distribution of the book to all primary and secondary schools in the autonomous Walloon region doesn't belong to the Belgian state but to the Education Ministry of the government of the French-speaking Community of Belgium, the same sources also underlined. They noted that the 144-page book, titled "Fight Against Homophobia," was not distributed to students as was reported earlier. It was distributed to teachers for guidance so they could use it as a tool in lectures aimed at creating awareness concerning anti-homophobia, they said. Reminded of the fact that the list was already published in the first edition and that the books were already distributed, the Belgian sources said, "The ministry will request that teachers not take those pages into consideration while instructing students." The book, prepared at the instruction of Arena, emphasizes that homosexuality is not actually a negative thing and that there have been many famous and important homosexual or bisexual people in history. The French Community of Belgium is one of three official communities in the country along with the Flemish Community and the German-speaking Community. It is also called the French-speaking Community of Belgium. The French Community of Belgium has its own parliament, government and administration. Belgium is one of the few countries in the world that grants its citizens the right to same-sex marriages and child adoption by homosexual couples. It was stated that the distribution of the book on homophobia was aimed at "enlightening the future of the young generation in Belgium" and informing them correctly by giving information on the history of homosexuality and the general socio-cultural perception in regard to homosexuality. The book also touches on the equality of women and discusses the viewpoints of other societies regarding homosexuality with an aim of preventing the younger generation from harboring negative opinions on homosexuality. Among famous homosexuals in history, according to the book, are Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci and Goethe. Other interesting names on the list are some spiritual leaders of the Catholic world such as Pope Benoit IX and Pope Jules III. Earlier this month, an İstanbul court ordered the Web site YouTube blocked because of videos that insulted Atatürk. However, the ban was lifted a few days later after the video was removed. Source: Today's Zaman (English)

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