The text is written in a great hurry. Actually, I planned to write a little introduction to Frollein Europa being in Turkey first but the news crossed my plan. Please try to don’t mind the language mistakes while reading.
I’m sitting in a shopping center. If I would lift my eyes from the laptop screen I’d probably see the sunshine and ask myself “what I’m doing here?”. But I don’t lift my eyes. Instead I’m pressing the reload-page button again and again. Is twitter down? Or is my internet connection just really slowl? Does facebook work?
Just a few kilometers away clouds of teargas poison the air. I’m in a quiet neighborhood one hour away by public transports away from Taksim. So far it’s a quiet afternoon. It’s the second day of the protests which began as protests against a shopping center and turned into protests against prime minister Erdogan.
I’m staying with a friend of mine from Berlin. She has Turkish roots, went to school with me in Berlin and now studies in Istanbul. As soon as she heard I’d be in Istanbul she invited me to stay with her in a student dorm of the a privat University. The rules of the female dorm are quite strict: There is no internet (even though the girls all have smartphones and internet flatrates ), no TV and everyone has to be home at 8pm. All the girls are Muslima and most of them wear a headscarf. None of the girls is participating in the protests nor they are really interested in it. They begged me to don’t go there because they believe, and they might be right about it, that it is really dangerous. So that’s why I’m spending a beautiful Saturday afternoon in a shopping center wandering nervously around to search for the best wifi-connection.
On facebook, I’m writing with several other friends. I’m trying to find somebody to take my there or at least give me more information. Meanwhile I’m checking twitter every five seconds. Pictures of hundredth united people crossing the Bosporus-Bridge are giving me goosebumps. I’m reading rumors about dead and uninjured people. Everybody says twitter and facebook are partly blocked. Sometimes I don’t get any new tweets for twenty minutes and just when I want to confirm the rumors about blocked internet it’s working again. In the end I can’t tell if there have been cases of blocked internet. But for sure twitter has been unusual slowly the whole day.
While I’m still not sure if it would be too dangerous to go to Taksim it’s getting to late for me anyhow. I don’t have to follow the strict dorm-rules like the others but the girls would worry a lot if I wouldn’t be home in time. Especially today.
Seconds before I leave the shopping center I read that the police is recalled from Taksim-Area. Furthermore, they say shopping center-project is canceled. I wonder what that might make with the protests. Will they continue? Will they still have enough support?
On my way back home I pass by a big square in Beylikdüzu. People start to assemble here too. For me, who is used to demonstrations in Berlin, all the Turkish flags are exceptional. Nearly everyone is wearing or caring flags. Mainly young people and families are assembling. The atmosphere is very peacefully. Some sing, some dance.
The moment I enter the apartment the first demonstration is passing by our house. We watch from the windows. The demonstration is peaceful. Again I see mostly young people and families. Nevertheless, some of my flatmates are scared. “Please don’t go out there” they say again. But I have to. I forgot my phone at the shopping center. Honestly, I’m a little relieved to have an excuse to go out one more time. I pass by the big square again. Expect for some skater the square is empty. Just some graffiti tell from the demonstration.
Anyhow, on my way back from the shopping center the square is suddenly crowed again. This time even more people sing and shout together. There I see police for the first time this evening. Just one lonely police car with three officers parks close to the square. Once I reach the dorm again it’s getting dark. The girls invite me to sit down with them and drink tea. I ask them what they think about the protests.
“ These people are always against everything.” says one girl. The next one adds: “If there would be soccer today no one be one the streets.” And one girl reminds me that even three million protester wouldn’t be a majority in Istanbul. No one here believes the protests could do any damage to Erdogan. Actually, this girls like him and his politics a lot. “He is a good man who always wants best for Turkey. People are so ungrateful” says one.
Saving trees in Istanbul? They don’t think that is necessary. In their believe a new shopping center in Taksim-square would be good for the economy and if people want nature they should go somewhere else. Anyway, the economics. All the girls think that it is Erdogan’s achievement that Turkey is doing economically well at the moment. One girl comes from Senegal. Her father is a politician. “The African politician like Erdogan a lot.” she tells. “Erdogan comes to Africa and says: We are brothers because we are a Muslim country too. And the Africans like that and therefore they only want to trade with Erdogan in the future. After all that’s just a modern way of colonization. We have Turkish companies and hotels everywhere. We are a good market for Turkey because of Erdogan.”
We are sitting at the balcony while the next demonstration is passing by. Loud voices and car honks can be heard everywhere. Light twinkles from the apartments around us. “People switching the light on and off to support the protests” one girl explains to me. It’s quite an impressing picture. I have goosebumps again.
“The one protesting there are against the Islam.” a girl says. Even though they go to a private university they think it is a great achievement that woman are allowed to wear head scarfs at universities again. Also they support the new law which forbids alcohol in public and bars close to mosques and kissing on the streets. “And the freedom of speech?” I ask carefully. They shrug. Freedom of speech is an abstract, far away topic. Unlike wearing a scarf it doesn’t affect their lives.
They say in the end it comes to one conflict: Is Turkey a Western or a Muslim country? They believe Turkey has to decide and since Turkeys culture is Muslim, Turkey should decide for the Muslim way. And in a Muslim country you don’t have to kiss on the streets or drink alcohol at all.
In the houses around us the lights are still twinkling. Honks and shouts can still be heard, too. The girls decide to spend the evening with watching a movie. After a short discussion they decide for twilight. But soon it turns out that it is impossible to hear a word of the movies because of the noises from outside. Even with the windows closed I can hear the call for Erdogans resignation clearly. It continues until late night. Around two in the night I see the last demonstration passing by