Am I safe in Turkey?

It’s a question I get askeTerrorism in Turkeyd often and right now I’m inclined to say:

I’m not safe in Turkey.

I’m not.

What I mean is, I’m not safe from other people’s fears and what they create around me.

The atrocities and struggles we see today – acts of terrorism, restricted freedoms of expression, divisions in society, hatred towards others – they’re products of fear.

People’s fear of losing power, or not gaining power.

People’s fear of the truth being told.

People’s fear of cultures they’ve never experienced, or countries they’ve never visited.

People’s fear of other people they’ve never met, or the religions they’ve never understood.

The truth is, if I ignore the fears of others, and focus on my pleasant day-to-day life in Turkey, I do feel safe – especially in Istanbul. In the very city that just yesterday was devastated by a bomb in the heart of the city’s tourism district of Sultanahmet.

You see, Sultanahmet is a place I call home. It’s where I spend most of my time. It’s one place in the world where I’ve always felt at peace, because it’s where East meets West every day and many friendships are formed.

My favourite thing to do in Istanbul is sit in a cafe in Sultanahmet, savouring a Turkish tea, whilst talking to tourists and locals. I’m always amazed with how easy conversations with strangers start here with anyone from Australia, Canada and America to Algeria, Syria and Saudi Arabia. We instantly have a common topic to discuss – Istanbul and all the magnificent historical attractions of Sultanahmet.

To hear of the bombing yesterday that killed and injured people in “my home” is something that is too difficult to comprehend – as it is for many with an affection for the city.

The fear now is that this dreadful event may tarnish tourism and many businesses may flounder. Inshallah (god willing), it will not be this way. Like New York, Bali, Madrid, Paris – any tourism hotspot that has overcome terrorist attacks and continues to attract world travellers – I intend Istanbul will too.

But, just how can we overcome this?

I believe, you become what you think. You become what you create. However, influencing this are the thoughts and act of others. What other people think and what other people create can shape our reality and collective thoughts are powerful. Another way of looking at this is, positive thoughts bring positive results. Negativity breeds negativity. Fears can breed negativity.

I’m in Australia at the moment and it’s been somewhat trying when the topic of “my home” comes up in conversation. I’m constantly asked to respond to other people’s fears about Turkey with the question: “Do you feel safe Turkey?” Instead of asking about the good things happening in my life in Turkey or what I enjoy about the country, people “auto-reject” within seconds to focus on the negative.

I’m growing frustrated because Istanbul is my home and I believe inflicting negative views, essentially invites further negativity. I don’t want that for my friends in Turkey or Turkey itself. Like a sensitive vampire lifting their cape to doom, I hiss back: “Do you feel safe in your hometown?”

The counter question is always met with silence or a stutter of random comments. “Well, do you?” I poke with my words, hoping they might come to the same conclusion I have. That is, a reality distilled from fears. The reality that threats to our personal safety and lives occur every day, everywhere in the world. We have perhaps become desensitised to many of them, because sadly, they have become to norm.

Alcohol and drug related violence, car accidents, homicides, drownings, falls, electrocutions, deaths by exotic animals and gun violence in America. Scan the morbidity and mortality statistics on these around the world and realise that the chance of succumbing to these issues are far greater than terrorism, but like terrorism, we cannot always predict when these afflictions will strike.

So, what can we do?

Be aware of your fears and how they may impact on you and others.

Question the sources of information around you – are they reliable and unbiased?

Choose positivity over negativity and put the right intentions out to the world for you, for others and the places affected by terrorism.

Mourn those who have lost lives and livelihoods in the terrorist attacks around the world, and remain defiant – never to let another person’s fears stand in the way of your life goals and happiness. (Waleed Aly says it best here)

And, for Istanbul’s sake, be positive. Be like a good friend going through hard times, come visit to help her heal.

Please don’t feed the fears.

Instead….

Love Life Istanbul is it safe in Turkey

My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed and injured in Sultanahmet on January 12, 2016. 

********

Other articles on this topic by fellow bloggers and writers:

Don’t hide from Istanbul by  (January 12, 2016)

The New Normal by Janey in Mersin (January 13, 2016)

This isn’t chaos this is my home by Life in Istanbul (January 13, 2016)

Is Turkey Safe from Isis and Terrorism by Turkish Travel Blog (June 2015)

 

 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Am I safe in Turkey?

  1. Pingback: Am I safe in Turkey? – lifeinIstanbul

  2. Hats off to you! This is one of the best statements of reasons to keep calm in virtually all places on Earth, not just Istanbul. I visited Istanbul last year, to revisit friends I hadn’t seen in years.

    I stayed with them in their house, which taxi drivers reacted to by saying “Are you sure this is the correct address?” Yes, a little edgy, and me the obvious tourist with the pretty red-covered Istanbul map. Street life was pretty much the same as I meet here in San Francisco. Met a lot of sincere people -and cats- Most of them smiled.

    Point is, this is life, and your comments on fear are well taken, no matter which side of the earth we live on. Thanks!

    I saw the usual street life there, poor mixing with rich, refugees trying to simply survive as Turkey got going on its immense relief program in Istanbul and other cities. I also did the tourist thing, going to Sultan Ahmet to see the now wonderfully illuminated interiors of the area’s many noteworthy– and interesting!– monuments.

    On my way back home in after vacation, I had to chuckle. On public tran

    • Thank you for your feedback. I did struggle to write this one as I did switch between focusing on the world and focusing on Istanbul and Turkey. Please do share your positive thoughts about Istanbul with others to bring better times for our wonderful city.

  3. Yes indeed. I have just seen a couple of people’s FB updates worrying about people in Jakarta (where there have been some blasts and shootings). Of course it is awful, but actually Jakarta is a pretty large city with a pretty enormous population – chances of someone they know being caught up in it? Pretty well not very high. At the same time, figures were released yesterday for the deaths by road accidents in the country where I am living. Pretty scarily high. But has anyone put up a FB post checking that we are ok and not involved in a road accident? Errrr…..Sometimes you just need to keep cool and think logically, otherwise you would go mad….

    • You’re so right. I think because this is a relatively new threat to our lives people are not desensitized to it in some areas of the world. Like whenever a new disease or anything new/threatening is released on human beings people are just inclined to freak out because they don’t understand it. I wish terrorism did not exist, but letting fears win over pursuing happiness is not the way to go….for me anyway!

  4. Excellent article! I have been in Istanbul for 5 months and have never felt unsafe here…the locals are amazingly friendly, aside from the occasional cab driver trying to make an extra buck and going the long way…my friends are constantly messaging me to inquire about my safety and to tell me to be careful. My response to them is always you stay safe too and be careful! We live in a world of quickly moving information, and I believe that this facilities the spread of bad news and perpetuates fear! We must take control of our actions and biases that are formulated because of this, and remember that no one place is any more dangerous than another. Be aware of your surroundings, be vigilant in your personal safety no matter if you are in Istanbul, Dallas Texas, Hong Kong, London, or Brazil…live life and enjoy your travels! Cheers!

  5. Wonderful piece and exactly how I feel as well! As you know I’m now calling your home-country my home…at least for now. Who knows what the new year will bring!

    I grew up in a small town in Nebraska, and my mother lives in fear…fear that she’ll get ripped off, fear that the car will break down, fear to drive more than 5 miles from home because “WHAT IF” something happens. Thank goodness I grew up and moved away from that fear! That’s no way to live. Yes, it makes sense to be cautious and to be informed of course, but as we all know, bad stuff can happen anywhere!

  6. Timely and very appropriate & positive article. I have visited Istanbul many times, consider it my second home and I am not going to stop visiting. I want to invest my power into positive action rather than being held bound by others hate. Danger is everywhere but what would we become if we let it control us?

  7. Pingback: Eine Reise Sicher wohnen in Istanbul & American Ignorance - Eine Reise

  8. Pingback: Am I safe in Turkey? - Muslim World Today

  9. Thank you soo much for this article. whereever you go, whatever you do the main key is “I believe, you become what you think. You become what you create. However, influencing this are the thoughts and act of others. What other people think and what other people create can shape our reality and collective thoughts are powerful. Another way of looking at this is, positive thoughts bring positive results. Negativity breeds negativity. Fears can breed negativity.” Have a wonderful time.

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