Rereading "The Crimean Saladin"

Edited from an interview on University of Pennsylvania's Cross-Cultural Poetics with Leonard Schwartz
"With this short story I attempt to depict the absurdity, reality and ultimately instruct the reader on the crisis of the Crimean-Tatars. The Tatars have endured the Surgun (Great Purging) of 1944, being forced within a fifteen minute window to leave their homeland of hundreds of years. Most of the population were thereafter starved if they had not escaped or killed en masse, some drown mercilessly on boats that were sunk in the Black Sea. This would not be the final end of the Crimean-Tatars who after the fall of the Great Khanates of Tataria (the previous name of the land now called Russia), the Crimean-Tatars enacted numerous attempts at autonomy and to be recognized as the isthmus' indigenous population.

In the wake of Ukrainian unrest, the Russian forces have decided they want the Crimea back. A Russian governmental presence may destroy the Crimean-Tatars peaceful and political gains for recognition.

At the core of the Russian adventures in Crimea besides imperialist conquest and beachside property ownership is a deep rooted Cossak nationalism, the flames of which fanned by Putin and intermixed with false history about the Tatars indicate a racially classist power structure will be instituted to disempower Tatars again. The disregard and violent attacks on the non-cossak populations prior to Russia's latest infiltration indicate the bear is not interested in peacefully co-existing with the indigenous population. Kazaks, Nogai's and Uzbeks are daily targets for rowdy cossak militant and white power groups.

The Tatar language has recently begun being taught in Tatar schools again. There are even Tatar specific schools again, despite the total destruction of Tatar history, through all this madness headway has been made in recreating the Crimean-Tatar post-Russian identity. Like a candle flame that cannot be extinguished the Tatars show and prove their unbreakable nature. Now, with Russia on the cusp of smothering progress one must wonder what the fate of the Crimean-Tatars will be.

I support the Crimean-Tatars in their mission to regain, reinterpret and realize the dream of a post-Russian Vatan (homeland) alongside the peaceful Russians that live there. These are peaceful people who have never engaged in any activity against the Russian State outside of expressing the fact that Crimea belongs to the Crimean-Tatars. I only hope the Russians and Crimean-Tatars can decode their own false histories, unpack years of bitter neighbor syndrome and be calm enough to transcend the madness and come to a reasonable final act. We must refuse to fight and break the cycle of violence and tears.

With that I bring you the Crimean Saladin, saviour of the Tartary.

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From the book Halal Pork and Other Stories By Cihan Kaan
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“Reminiscent of Ray Bradbury, the more outrageous satirical vein of Chester Himes, Amiri Baraka’s Tales of the Out and the Gone, or Sesshu Foster’s Atomik Aztex, Kaan’s Halal Pork is unique and essential reading, magically situating everyday debris in a cosmic drift that allows us to inhabit the universe.”
- Ammiel Alcalay, BOMB Magazine