"#Pray, but only for Europe"

This morning I woke up to BBC News announcing that there had been another terror attack, this time in the departure lounge of Brussels’ airport and a metro station close by. I was shocked, upset and worried, but I was also angry. Here I was, watching this emergency broadcast on what was undoubtedly a tragedy, wondering where the same sense of panic was at the recent terror attacks in Ankara and Istanbul.

Judging from my blog, you may say I’m biased. I have visited Turkey numerous times and have fallen in love with it. But who can be prejudice when it comes to world terror? I felt compelled to write this post after reading a brilliant article on The Independent by Yasmin Ahmed who asks where our prayers were for Ankara and Istanbul.

As I look on Twitter now, at 6:52pm, almost 12 hours after the attacks, there have been 69.3K tweets with the hashtag #BrusselsAttacks. Horrifyingly, 252K tweets have been sent with the hashtag #StopIslam – as if stopping one of the biggest religions in the world would stop the terror. As #PrayForAnkara is no longer trending, if it ever was, I can’t tell you how many tweets it had! But come on, I think we all know it won’t have been 69.3K!

Since the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks, Muslims have been associated with terror by western media, and seeing this lack of compassion for attacks in Turkey just shows how this has filtered down to the general public in 2016. The attacks in Ankara and Istanbul meant Muslims were killed, but the key thing our media concentrated on was the tourists that were killed – the westerners. Maybe it’s fair to say that there isn’t as much compassion for eastern attacks because the media talk less about it?

A human life lost is the same no matter what their religion. Fair enough if David Cameron is more concerned about attacks in Paris and Brussels – this cities are closer to Britain, meaning we are more at threat. But if we aren’t allowed to know that people in Turkey are being killed by the same evil, what’s to stop us thinking it is people in Turkey committing terrorism? This is where stereotypes start.

We’re all in this together.

Terrorism has no religion.

A Turkish Contradiction

In my opinion, being safe means to be with the ones you love. That’s why I went ahead with my trip to Istanbul last July, despite the recent Tunisia terrorist attacks.

While I was there, I visited the Blue Mosque, cruised down the Bosporus, and partied in Taksim – a town where, only two years ago, riots took place as part of the Gezi Park protests. Of course, being a sufferer of anxiety, I did have my worries. I felt the most important thing to remember was that this is our world. We can not lock ourselves away from experiences due to fear. If we allow that we will become consumed, locked in our houses and untrusting of our neighbours.

Orientalism, an essay by Edward Said, tells of the way the West looks at the East as culturally inferior, less civilised. The West ‘others’ the East. It is my belief that whoever judges the Orient as culturally inferior has had no real experience of the East. Sure, watching British news channels you can get a view of the poor Middle Easterns, but only by visiting the Middle East can you see that the Orient is rich in ways the British are poor. 

I couldn’t take enough photos of the Blue Mosque 

Turkish culture is giving. Tell a Turkish woman you like her ring, she gives you the ring. Tell an English woman you like her ring, she begins a speech about how her amazing boyfriend bought her the [insert expensive designer brand] ring for their anniversary. Another important difference is the work-life balance. In Britain, people in Britain live to work. In Turkey, they work to live. This means that they care less about material objects. Friends and family are more important than saving up for a new car.

The best photo I have ever taken

I don’t pretend to be an expert on Turkish culture, but my experience in Istanbul taught me a lot. I don’t pretend that, either, that I have experienced the hardships of the lower-class Turks. My boyfriend’s dad is an estate agent who lives on a brand new estate with a pool, and drives a shiny white car.

Took this near Ortaköy

The conflict I now face with myself is my safety vs my dream. I want to spend a year in Istanbul teaching English and getting to know the Turkish language and culture that I have fallen in love with. But, as I begin to contradict myself (welcome to my mind) I must put my safety first. This isn’t just for me: I am of the believe that the dead are the lucky ones: they have escaped. The victims are the living who suffer the loss. And that is something I could not risk putting my family through.

Teşekkür ederim.