Turkish author Elif Shafak talks about the relationship of her government to humour, the problematic deal for the refugees and the responsibility of European populists for the situation in Turkey.

She speaks softly, polite and thoughtful. Even so, each of her words are being heard loud and clear: Many of her 14 books have been bestsellers and many were translated in dozens of languages. Her most recent book was “The architect’s apprentice”, Penguin, 2015. The voice of the 44-year old Turkish intellectual carries considerate weight in social media, too. She has 1,7 million Twitter follower. Shafak lives in Istanbul and London, where she met profil in a coffeeshop in Marylebone for an interview.

Britain might vote to leave the EU in a referendum on June 23rd. Who are the supporters of Brexit in the United Kingdom and abroad?

“We are with them, but we are not of them”, Winston Churchill famously said in the House of Commons in 1953. The legendary British prime minister told his fellow parliamentarians that he was for the project of European unification - but with certain restrictions.

This has never changed. Since the United Kingdom joined the European Union in 1973 Britain always insisted on a special role. Yes to the Common Market, No to Euro, Schengen and Political Union. Great Britain wants to keep the British Pound, its borders and the sovereignty of its national parliament. Until now this special status had been accepted in the country and by the EU partners in Brussels. But now the sands are shifting. 2016 could become the year of Brexit, when the British people leave the European Union. On June 23rd Britain votes in a referendum about its EU-membership. Although the conservative party leader David Cameron campaigns for a “Bre-main”, as does the leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, the Out campaign seems to gain support. A recent poll of the “Daily Telegraph” showed a lead of Brexit supporters by seven percent.

Boris Johnson

Tessa Szyszkowitz - UK correspondent for Austrian news magazine profil

Probably not, but Europe now seems to face an additional threat.

Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor of London, is campaigning for the UK to leave the EU but to stay in the single market—as if Britain could have its cake and eat it. Even if his motivation for voting for Brexit in the June 23 EU referendum is simply to succeed David Cameron as prime minister, he is endangering his country’s future in the EU, a trading zone of over 500 million people.

Kalandia, Checkpoint, Westbank

Kalandia, Checkpoint, Westbank

Palestinians developed a new weapon against Israel: A boycott movement like the one used against South Africa’s Apartheid regime.

Like every year the “Oscar Goody Bag” is filled with especially exclusive gifts. Actors nominated for an Academy Award 2016 are getting presents worth 180.000 Euros. Companies like to invest in stars. If Michael Fassbender puts a toe in the pool of their hotel or Alicia Vikander appears in their bikini – the advertising effect is guaranteed.


This is a translation of an article I wrote for Cicero online, Berlin

It was a good day for the mother of all refugees. Her raspberry coloured blazer worked well with her hopeful mood: „It is an important signal that we collected six billion Dollars today for 2016 and eleven billion in total for the next years“, she said at the end of a „Supporting Syria“ conference this past Thursday in London: „This money will help the refugees who have suffered so much.“

Cardiff interview

Fotos: Alex Schlacher

At the end of August David Cameron’s government killed Rayeed Khan, a British ISIS fighter, per drone attack in Syria. A visit to his old hometown.

It was a dark afternoon in November 2013, when Khalid Rahman understood that his friend was doomed. Khalid who studies computer science at the University of Cardiff was hanging out with some guys in Butetown, a poor district they were all from. They were playing on their mobile phones when one suddenly said: „Have you heard? Rayeed left for Syria“. Khalid remembers having goose bumps. „I was so shocked, I even had to stop my game.“

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© 2018 Tessa Szyszkowitz