The daughter of Rasim Kaygusuz, a school teacher who collaborated on 10 Cin Ali books with illustrator Selcuk Segmen, said she wants to form a foundation in the character's name by the end of this year, and eventually build a museum. The daughter, Nevin Kaygusuz, works for a Turkish group dedicated to conserving architectural heritage and is vice president of a small political party. She said Cin Ali books have not been published for two years since the copyright owner closed because of financial problems.
Cin Ali is a stubborn presence in popular culture. A television satire, Leyla and Mecnun, featured a skit in December in which the characters turned into Cin Ali-style cartoons. A Facebook page in his name lists 78,000 "likes."
"In hard times, I feel that he'll revive and come to my side. Like he'll come out from my childhood," writes Asli Gul on the social networking site.
"He is the only guy who never tells lies," posts Kadir Oz.
Last year, Cin Ali became a pawn in allegations of result-fixing in the annual university entrance exam, a scandal that the political opposition used to hammer the government. Ali Demir, head of the examination institution, was the target of student protesters, some of whom held up signs saying: "Resign, Cin Ali."
In Turkish, "cin" means smart or cunning, and also refers to a spirit, or genie. An opposition leader taunted Demir, saying he was less popular than the stick figure. On some level, Cin Ali is a memento of Turkey's old state, led by secular elites that were ousted by devout Muslim politicians who have presided over a decade of change.
Even if Cin Ali were still in classroom circulation, he'd be hard-pressed to compete with his plump, modern, high-tech, multi-colored equivalents on the Internet and television. There is Caillou, an animation character from Canada that is popular among Turkish toddlers, and Pepee, a Turkish cartoon boy who teaches preschoolers about letters, animals, flowers and basic shapes.
In 2005, Dr. Firdevs Gunes, head of a government committee that devised a new school curriculum for young children, said education would emphasize "visual reading and visual presentation" with television and computer aids.
"Children don't care about stickmen anymore," Zaman newspaper cited Gunes as saying. "They want to perceive the totality. They want colored pictures. With this new program, Cin Ali has completed his life."
Some don't forget.
"He was one of my best friends when I was five or six," Candan Inan, who works for an online hotel booking firm based in Amsterdam, wrote in an email. "He was also inspiring in terms of developing my drawing skills as it was easy to draw."
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