Erdogan accuses the protesters of being looters, filth, marginal groups and terrorists. To accuse the youth of your country, the sons and daughters of your nation, is not just appalling, it is not even close to the truth. It is the opposite. The people who have gathered there are the Goddamn flower of the nation! (Sorry God, for cursing). These are the bravest, most courageous, most creative and most kind-hearted people Turkey has brought forth. Instead of being embraced they are scapegoated by their prime minister! He sends the riot police the beat their non-violent and unarmed asses down! By spreading his lies through the media he controls his poorly informed and remotely living electorate probably even beliefs he has a point. So he blatantly lies to justify blatantly immoral violence against innocent people and blatantly deludes his own following into believing his lies.
I am still in awe about the message I received from my Turkish friend Eda Bozköylü yesterday. She let me know she is fine, not in danger. She has been protesting together with her friends and thousands of other young Turks in Istanbul and – by now – in 70 other Turkish cities. I heard news about the riot police coming down hard on the youngsters and I felt concerned.
What I did not see coming was to receive a message filled with bliss and peace (read it if you haven’t yet!). Otherworldly almost and that was indeed the word Eda used as well. “Taksim doesn’t belong to earth anymore” she wrote. And: “Taksim is another planet, Atalwin. I wish you to experience it.”
In Istanbul and other Turkish cities people are protesting against their government. They are tired of getting their liberties taken away step by step. Young and liberal people are getting beaten down hard by the riot police who use a lot of tear gas, water canons and physical violence. Many protesters are getting injured. The people feel happy and empowered though: they feel united and unstoppable. People want to be free.
I care because I know people who are involved. I have made real friends in Istanbul and I have learned about their situation and complaints against the ongoing increase of government approved Islamic influence, slowly becoming more and more suffocating. I am very proud and happy that my friends are standing up for what they believe in.
Istanbul is a beautiful city. First of all it is enormous, and it is diverse, eclectic, busy, green, old and very Islamic. Turkey is supposed to be a secular country but it doesn’t feel like that. Like in all the other Islamic countries visited you will hear a call to prayer coming from the mosques five times a day. Speakers in the top of the minarets amplify the sound so the sound carries a long way. In Istanbul the call to prayer is louder here than in any other Islamic country I visited. It is the only country I have been where you can’t continue your conversation.
That is paradoxical because I don’t see the mosques being flooded with devotees here. I mean, in Egypt you see virtually all the men rushing to the mosques. And if they can’t make it, you will see them pray in the back of their shops or on the street. It feels like there is a completion going on: many loudly ignore the loud call.