Seref ve Onur: Honour and Dignity

Prof. Dr. Christine Schirrmacher

Honour and Dignity. Seref ve Onur. German-Turkish Symposium 1999. Türk Alman Sempozyumu 1999. Edition Körber-Stiftung, Hamburg: 2000, 400 pp., 10.00 € [in German and Turkish: Ehre und Würde. Seref ve Onur. Deutsch-Türkisches Symposium 1999. Türk Alman Sempozyumu 1999]

Turkish-Muslim and German conceptions on the subject of “honour” and “dignity” were the focus of this symposium of the Körber-Stiftung in the year 1999. As a rule violations of honour are perceived by Muslim-Turks to be especially fierce attacks. Non-Muslims most often lack the background knowledge necessary for understanding this conflict. Using several fundamental lectures, this book deals examples of potential violations of honour with respect to the relationship of the sexes (murder motivated by violations of honour, wife’s honour, family honour) as well as with respect to nation and fatherland (insulting one’s Turkishness) and – Turkey-specific – with respect to the military (equal footing of army and nation). This is compared to the Christian-Western understanding of honour and dignity. The lectures, which are all available in German and Turkish, open up interesting aspects on a topic that receives far too little attention. The summaries of the current legal and social situation in Turkey are helpful. However, in my opinion the symposium participants’ discussions following the lectures should have been much more condensed and not presented to their full extent. If this does not distract one too much from the actual subject, it is a worthy read on a subject rarely dealt with.