Random post: Random violence

Unfortunately every city, with no exceptions, is subject to random acts of violence, and as charmed as I am by Istanbul, I don’t want to gloss over some of the realities it faces as a city consisting of billions of people of various nationalities, religions, and cultures, as well as the few just-plain-crazies. I’m not sure what, if anything, has been broadcast in the U.S. about these events, but they are news here, of course. I am fortunate not to have been personally involved, but they are part of my experience while I’ve been here, so I feel they are important to share.

Last Sunday a suicide bomber blew himself up in Taksim Square, a very heavily-trafficked square in Beyoglu at the opposite end of the always-packed Istiklal Caddesi (Istiklal Street), about a 25-minute walk from my residency and exactly where thousands of very nice people live and work. Fortunately, from what I know, there were no other deaths, but 32 people were hurt, including 15 police and 17 civilians.

And a few weeks ago people at a gallery opening in the Tophane area of the city were physically attacked, and the gallery windows broken, by a mob. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt, but it certainly shook up the art world here. I’ve heard conflicting accounts about the motivation and people involved–whether it was anti-gentrification towards the new galleries that have sprung up in this largely traditional, family-oriented area; whether it was more religiously-motivated against people drinking in the street; whether it was locals from the neighborhood reacting to other insensitivities on the galleries’ parts; or whether it was a statement from people from an even more conservative area of the city; or, or, or…

I don’t report these events to worry anyone, and certainly not to show Istanbul in a bad light. Despite these events, I do feel fairly safe in Istanbul (actually more so than I expected, I have to admit) although I know that I am also leaving soon. I take the normal precautions (not walking alone late at night, keeping my brass knuckles handy, taking my pistol off of “safety”) that I do in every city, but nothing extra.

So, that’s just a minute to think about some of the bad things that happen everywhere, unfortunately. My next post will be back to the fun and photos, and I even more strongly encourage everyone to visit Istanbul! Hopefully through mutual respect, understanding and empathy these types of things can be prevented, here and elsewhere.


About Stephanie Beck

Exploring the international world of art.
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