• People

    an international conspiracy

    I have withheld my documentary evidence of certain events that took place a couple of weeks ago in the midst of Turkey’s turmoil for fear that it was not the time for transparency. I apologize for my cowardice. However, I must now add my voice to those others claiming that there are international interests trying to steal Turkey’s beauty away from it. Two Saturdays ago I witnessed an Italian man marry a Turkish woman. To my shame, I stood by and enjoyed the spectacle of two people formalizing the decision to share their love, lives and differing cultures in order to join in a union that will echo through the years, influencing generations to come. I’m sorry if I let you down, Turkey. In addition to taking one of your great beauties as my wife, years later I stood silent witness as another foreigner did the same. Yet I was…

  • People

    last stand

    This week Turkey and the world were inspired by one man’s silent, six-hour protest performed in Taksim Square. Standing Man was a truly beautiful statement made by choreographer Erdem Gunduz which went viral within hours of his performance. Better yet it has since inspired thousands of others around Turkey and the world like the woman above. I’ve been thinking a lot about why this protest resonated so powerfully, and I got my answer when I visited Taksim square the other day. Politics, especially in Turkey, is dominated by middle-aged, finger-pointing bullies. It’s less and less about the content of the argument, and more about how successfully you can shout down your opponent. This afternoon the Mayor of Ankara denounced a Turkish journalist working for the BBC as a spy and is attempting to conduct a Twitter campaign against her. One TV station composed a fake interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.…

  • Places

    a strange climate

    When I started this blog it was with the intention of pointing out things to appreciate, especially with regard to this city which has been my home for eight years. This city has brought me so many good things, and as a result I’ve wanted to pay it back. However, I’ve had something of a philosophical conundrum in the last week. It’s been difficult to go back to that same reality. In the space an hour these days I can find hope in some simple act of kindness from the people of this city, and lose it in the next second. I’m not usually into finger-pointing, but it’s usually in the moments when one of the city’s or country’s democratically elected leaders speaks. In the last hour there’s a man on the TV saying some very frightening things, about minorities, foreign interests, about the abuse of his head scarf-wearing sisters,…

  • People

    authority vs. creativity

    One of the many things that has been remarkable about this uprising is its ability to unite people from different backgrounds, interests and needs. The aspect that seems to run across the board and unite them too is the humour and creativity that they use in order to rise up and fight back. It’s probably not what’s said about the Prime Minister that really gets to him, but the fact that despite being tear-gassed and water-cannoned, many still won’t take him seriously. His victims find new ways to celebrate and laugh, to take the sting out of his vindictive anger and then share it across the internet. True creativity depends upon finding new ways to express a universal truth. While the story presented may or may not be factually accurate, a successful joke or story gives us a new way to connect with people by allowing us to feel the…

  • People

    a friendly revolution?

    Could this be the most civil of civil uprisings? Not that I have a great deal of experience with such happenings, but indulge me if I’m inclined to think so. With the exception of insults hurled at Turkey’s Prime Minister, everyone behind the Occupy Gezi Park movement is being remarkably kind and relaxed. Before entering the AKM Building (Atatürk Cultural Centre) through a break in the hoarding, a dangling cardboard sign warns that the structure is not strong and you might think twice about entering. Incidentally, this building was once used as a vantage point for snipers in the 1970s to target left-wing protestors and is now being used for this generation’s resistance to hang banners and host jazz performances aimed at uplifting today’s protestors — a nice bit of irony. Not that there’s much need. Nothing seems able to stop this jubilant crowd. All around Taksim their are people of…

  • People,  Places

    what’s next, turkey?

    Yesterday people of all sorts gathered to continue the celebration of a victory in Taksim Square and Gezi Park. Left-wing, right-wing, liberal, conservative, nationalist, socialist … you name them. There was a constant flow of Turkish citizens of every age, ethnicity and subculture. There are banners with socialist slogans, nationalist slogans flying next to the rainbow GLBT flags everywhere. People pose to have their pictures taken on burned-out police cars and buses, while some diligent protestors sweep up the rubble and debris nearby. Some of it is theirs, some of it the police’s. However, this feels like a major victory for peaceful protestors who were violently abused by their police force and government (see previous post). It’s a strange victory, though, because it’s not being acknowledged as a defeat by the man and he government they took on. What started as a minor protest for a small park has rolled…

  • Places

    today

    There are better pictures. There are more insightful commentaries. The reason I’m posting this is that, today, I witnessed firsthand brutality against people who did nothing more than hurl insults at their government. The following is from my small perspective — but, I saw perfectly clearly before the tear gas canisters fired down over my head — there were no Molotov cocktails, no rocks, there was no looting, danger to the general public or private property, or even to the police who were ordered to the street. Shopkeepers were mostly supportive of the protestors. The only immediate danger was to a small group of people and innocent bystanders, for sticking their necks out against a narrow-minded, secluded group of individuals who seem to think that 57% approval justifies a violent crackdown on any kind of dissent. This is not about Islam versus secularism. This is not about ideology. This is…