I have followed this yacht the last few years as they cruise around the world. Last "season" they spent the entire boating year in Turkey - and LOVED it (well worth reading their blog if you love history)... he made friends with some Turks and on his blog this weekend posted an email he received that pretty much explains what started all this - what this man wrote to him pretty much conforms to what I heard on Wilkow last week when I was on my trek across the desert..
They recently cleared out of Turkey (funny story with the fuel filling) and are crossing through Greek Island toward Croatia.... If you go back and read what he posted on their voyage last year you see how much Turkey has unraveled in a very short period of time.......http://www.kensblog.com/http://www.kensblog.com/aspx/m/Home/beid/716079
We are sad to be leaving Turkey
Of all the places we’ve cruised, Turkey is by far my favorite. It reminds me most of our home-cruising ground; the Pacific NW, but with hot weather, warm swimmable water, good internet everywhere, and a restaurant around every turn. Were we not so dedicated to circumnavigating, I could easily see cruising there for many years to come.
That said, recent events in Turkey have had me asking myself if the Turkey we cruised will still exist a few years from now. If you’ve been following the news reports you know that Turkey is a country making headlines, with conflicts both on its border with Syria, and unrest within the country itself. What was, and perhaps still is, a secular Muslim country, may be losing its secular nature.
Protests at Taksim Square in Istanbul Turkey. The mechanics who worked on my boat happened to be in Istanbul when the protests were occurring.
Last year, I conducted an interview with a Turkish friend that was very powerful in assisting me to understand the Turkish culture. For a look back at that interview, CLICK HERE . With Turkey so much in the headlines, I wrote to him again to get his thoughts on whether or not the recent events were just a media exaggeration, or a sign of great-wave change in Turkey.
Sent: Wednesday, June 05, 2013 10:21 AM
The recent events are very important but not scary. Basically the events took place in Taksim, the center of Istanbul and half a mile to Taksim life was business as usual, in terms of security etc. But, those events were very significant socially. As you know the current government is a conservative democrat with some inclination to religion. Until ten years ago at least half of the country who was leading a more conservative and “religious” life was under significant pressure from the army and could not lead a free life for themselves. After this current leadership came to power they actually did a very good job and Turkey prospered economically, health serviced improved a lot and a lot of investments had been done to the infrastructure. Therefore the country voted for this government for a third period (4 years each). In the meantime, as the government felt more confident of public support, they got rid of the pressure from the army and rightfully placed them where they should be (protecting the country against terrorism and enemy forces and not against religious people or un-secularity). They took actions and passed laws to enable those more conservative people who were under pressure, to live their life more freely.
But, in the last one or two years, especially after the government was elected for the third time, the prime minister started to interfere with the life of “non-conservative” or so called “secular people” and therefore, putting pressure on the lives of non-conservative people. Examples are, calling a casual drinker alcoholic (conservatives are totally against taking any alcohol), asking and incentivizing families to have minimum three children, trying to ban abortion (he could not do this) and many other small or big attempts or talks pointing to interfere with freedom of our lives. I guess this is why a maximum of two election period is a good idea like the US. Those very successful democratic leaders start to turn into a democratic dictator after they realize that they are unbeatable and very powerful.
Anyway, the recent events actually started with a very trivial happening. The government is converting Taksim to a car free zone (a great project). There is a very tiny park and green area in Taksim and for some reason they started to remove a few trees and a few hundred people wanted to protest this. For an unknown reason the police attacked those people with water cannons and tear gas. But, those people were not violent at all. Once the police did this, more people went there to protest and the police responded more aggressively and things went out of control and people started pouring there. The media is also under significant pressure from the government and therefore they could not broadcast what was happening there. And everybody started to broadcast from Facebook and twitter and people got organised from social media. It was amazing to see how people got organized from Facebook and twitter. And those who protested were people like me. In fact many of my friends went there and stayed there for three days and nights.
For some reason the prime minister, instead of cooling the events, kept on reprimanding those people calling them looters and blaming them that they are creating so much fuss about a few trees. But, in fact the whole protest turned out from a few hundred people protecting a few trees, to hundreds of thousands of people, all over the Turkey, protesting the prime minister and the government in interfering with their freedom and life. At the end, yesterday, the president (not the prime minister) and the prime minister’s deputies called back the police and apologized from the public stating that they got the message and learnt their lesson.
I believe this event was very positive in terms of balancing the social situation in Turkey. It was the first time that a protest was organized by not terrorists, not by other parties, but by people in the street through social media. It was innocent, pure and totally social oriented, not political. By the way, if the police did not use aggression it was not violent at all.
To put things short, Turkey is still very safe for tourists, and for us who are living very close to the action. I do not see a great-wave change in Turkey, if anything, I believe this event will lead Turkey to a more balanced democracy and social life.
Anyway .. enough politics… back to boating