Letter From Istanbul

It’s been a year since the coup attempt in Turkey.

Sherron and I arrived a few days afterward and found the atmosphere in Istanbul remarkably calm. But there were underlying tensions and anxieties–what would Erdogan do next? Most people we spoke to mistrusted their leader’s motivations and believed Turkey risked autocracy unless wiser voices prevailed.

It seems those forebodings were justified. Erdogan clearly wants to be another Putin, with all the ugliness that entails; gradually moderate, democratic voices are being silenced by jail or purges.

And it was already starting to happen when I wrote this post, back in August, 2016.

Beautiful Desolation

TaksimRecently, my wife and I returned from a dream holiday: a month in Greece, Turkey and the Czech Republic. Mere days before we were to leave for Istanbul, however, Turkey experienced a coup attempt in which nearly two hundred and fifty people died, many of them civilians. Friends and family urged us to cancel this leg of our trip but, then, some stability was re-established and we decided we couldn’t miss visiting that ancient capital, truly one of the world’s “eternal” cities. We flew into Kemal Ataturk Airport and spent an incredible ten days walking its teeming streets. But while we were out and about, chatting with waiters, hawkers and people from various strata of society, I started composing an article on the attitude of ordinary Turkish citizens to the bungled coup and their autocratic leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Here it is:

The woman in Taksim Square is insistent: we must…

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