after gezi park


The dominant Western narrative of the events so far is serious, if formulaic, and well suited to a liberal appetite. The battle is against Erdoğan, a religious conservative, and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). Part of the antipathy towards Erdoğan is due to his assault on the urban middle-class lifestyle. Istanbul, for a Westerner, is quite a cheap city: not much more than a dollar for a kebab, half that to ferry across the Bosphorus, and under five dollars for an excellent, multi-course meal at a neighborhood restaurant. Alcohol is a different matter; because of taxes levied by the akp it costs roughly the same to have a drink in either Istanbul or Chicago. Under a new law, alcohol can’t be sold after 10 p.m. I can’t recall a time, though, when I made it to Taksim Square much before midnight. Crowds buy beer from small convenience shops and drink outside before going to bars. On warm nights students often stay outside, sitting underneath Galata Tower. Many of those small shops, I have to imagine, won’t survive under the new laws. People are afraid the new alcohol legislation is symptomatic of a wider push to impose a regime of conservative social values in a country regionally renowned for its secularism. This is the partial story the Western media has done an admirable job covering: the occupation as a reaction to an assault on liberal rights. And so the Western media has in a certain sense maintained a legitimacy in Turkey not afforded to the Turkish press: in a much-discussed incident on June 2nd, while cnn covered the brutal police reaction to the occupation, the satellite network cnn Türk broadcast a documentary on penguins. (Protestors have since taken to the street in penguin masks.)

more from William Harris at The Point here.