Arab Street: Here's the Word from the Turkish Street
I found out on Twitter today that a protest was scheduled for 3:00 pm on Istanbul's Taksim Square in support of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Curious to know what Turks were saying about these events, I pitched up dutifully.
To put the fact that no one--not one person--showed up in context, I should note that Istanbul is a city of some 15 million people. I see protests all the time in Taksim, and I know for sure that Turks can really get their freak on when they feel like something's worth protesting.
I did see a few bedraggled protesters unfurling a banner, so I rushed over to see what was happening, but it turned out they were trade unionists protesting new employment legislation now under debate in the General Assembly. Mind you, their confrères just got pounded by the police in Ankara--a point journalists keen to show their solidarity with peaceful protesters might wish to note.
I spoke a bit to the people there. Wasn't it odd, I asked, that Turks weren't protesting the brutal crackdown on the Egyptian protesters? I mean, Turks are madly on the side of oppressed Arabs, right? Isn't that Erdoğan's great claim to fame, that he's a courageous voice for oppressed Arab people?
Well yes, they agreed. But the sentiment among Turks, one guy suggested, was that there was something really fishy about those Egyptian protests: I mean, Arabs couldn't organize their way out of paper bag, so it must be the Americans behind it. Or George Soros.
Another guy in my neighborhood told me yesterday that thirteen very powerful Jews were behind the whole thing. Behind everything, in fact. (He was quite precise about the number.)
You know, I said, I really didn't find that plausible.
He smiled, sunny and indulgent. He was amused that I could be so naive.