Istanbul//Berlin: Geschichten, Gesichter, Gedanken, Politik, Stimmen, Farben, Orte, Auseinandersetzen und Zusammensitzen, Traumata und Träume.

Istanbul//Berlin: stories, faces, thoughts, politics, voices, colors, places, examinations and integrations, trauma and 'Träume' (dreams).

Donnerstag, 30. Juni 2016

As the Bosporus Continues to Flow - After the bombing of Istanbul Airport

As I am walking trough the streets of Istanbul this morning, I am taking a closer look at my surroundings than usual, in the faces of the people following their daily business I am trying to make out hints of – something; of what exactly, I am not even sure: an emotion not describable, a kind of mild shock, a hue of sadness? As vendors arrange their displays, chatting people sip on their tea, the sun presses down on cars that try to make their way through the viscous traffic, streetdogs are begging for some attention and a bite of breakfast, I realize yet again, what I already knew: it is a day as any other. With a sad smile I remember how months ago, I was new in the city, new to the reality that citizens of Istanbul, of Turkey, live in. During my first weeks here, a bomb exploded, in the city I live, breathe, sleep, wander around in, and I was tremendously shocked back then. What had added to my horror after this -meanwhile possibly forgotten- explosion, was the nonchalance with which my Turkish flatmate reacted to the news. And now here I am, with my blunted brain that is not willing to produce anger, shock, or sadness any more, it is too much accustomed to news like those that were flashing on our screens yesterday: „Suicide bombers kill a dozen of people, authorities suspect ISIS behind the attack“.

While being aware that this is my mind’s somewhat strange mechanism of protection, I cannot help but raise my eyebrows in awe of the realization that I, too, have become numbed. It is alarming to observe how quickly I got used to bad news such as these, and I despise it. Because aren’t emotions what makes us human, aren’t feelings the most important weapon we have when facing this world of bluntness? When a city is routinely rustling in its ever busy daily life just hours after an unspeakable force of cruelty unfolded its devastating power and took several humans into death with it, something is out of the ordinary, bombings should not have become something ordinary.

After entering my Turkish conversation class this morning, reality had somewhat started to sink in, hence I was not following the topic very closely. Only a few comments were dropped on the topic of the deaths that were haunting the airport of our city some kilometers away. „So, were you scared yesterday?“ asks me a girl in a careless tone, even with a hint of a smile on her face, the kind of smile that people display who are watching a sort of drama for their amusement, viewing it from the comfort of their safety. The teachers body is moved by the shrug that I have seen here many times, one that suggests: he has stopped to care. And unfortunately I cannot blame him, in this country where any media coverage is blocked after such incidents, where any voices other than those of the reigning party are rarely able to become audible, where any critical thinking is tried to be silenced in its wakening, by the government and its wide-reaching dictatorship of the majority of public institutions.
The topic is swiftly changed and the Turkish teacher narrates about the only reported winter in history that made the mighty, rushing, powerful Bosporus freeze, which must have left the city in awe. And yet, it continued to flow, just a few days later.

Later at home, I listen to a turkish song about the Gezi protests, they sing „Bu daha baslangic, mücadeleye devam...“ which translates into „This is just the beginning, we will continue to fight...“. Lost in thought I wonder how in this world there would be a way to fight the injustice of the terror that is unfolding in our daily lifes, and the resulting bluntness that is crawling into my brain as all respect for human life is thrown overboard continuously by suicide bombers.

I catch myself thinking how this feeling of helplessness, of impotence and unimportance is exactly the intended effect of such attacks. And another feeling is making its way into our hearts, affecting our encounters, our view of others, our actions: fear. I try not to allow myself to be scared, to alter my movements, my whereabouts or my interactions out of fear, but it sure is challenging. On a personal level, it is, as of now, the only counteraction I can think of, though. I will not accept the demonizing of Islam and its culture, I will not be scared of people that live this religion, just because a group of terrorists take lifes in the name of Allah, in the process disowning the very core values of this religion. As naive as it might sound, I believe this is the -not to be underestimated- contribution that I as a human being, which believes in unwieldy concepts and big words such as ‚humaneness’, and that we as little humans can make to the fight against the not-so-new threat of terrorism as it hits closer to home every day -given that ‚home’ is the privileged western society, of course.!mp3/15

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