Fights over alcohol in Istanbul

ISTANBUL – At two galleries in Istanbul on Tuesday night five people were wounded after a group using sticks and stones objected to alcohol being consumed in the street. At the two galleries exhibitions were being opened with hundreds of guests from Turkey and abroad. Several Turkish media outlets reported that on Wednesday.

A group of about thirty people threw stones and hit guests with sticks, windows were broken and pepper spray was used. People living in the neighbourhood apparently warned the galleries of what might happen. The attackers ran off before the police arrived. No arrests were made, but the investigation into what happened has started.

The attack adds to the fear  felt by many Turks that freedoms which are in their eyes connected to the secular republic, like the free use of alcohol, are in danger.

2 replies
  1. çağdaş şimşek
    çağdaş şimşek says:

    some secularist activists tend to show this attack as if it was against “secular way of life and alcohol”. however, even the attacked people mentioned that the real problem is not the alcohol or “secular way of life” but it is the “different way of life” that these people adopt which is not suitable with the perspectives of “common” or “average” turkish people or conservatives. another issue of discussion was the process of gentrification which i’m at odds. today, another attack on tayad members, which is an ngo fighting for the rights of the “political convicts” in turkey prisons, has been committed by a fascist group and again shopmen in bolu. turkey, for a long time, has been a place where those didn’t fit the “common people ideology” were attacked by fascist groups and local craftsmen. and police always take side with the attackers rather than stopping the attackers and taking them under custody.

  2. Fırat
    Fırat says:

    Dear Çağdaş,

    The first part of your comment is more than absurd. You should’ve clearly defined what you meant by saying “the way of life” which secular people adobt and which is not suitable to “average” or “common” or “conservative” turkish citizens. Let’s be honest to each other. The attackers viewed consuption of alcohol in their backyards as an intervention to their life styles. I listened to everything the attackers said and all they said was that people at the exibitions were bad examples to their children bcoz of alcohol and etc. One man who supported the attackers made it quite clear: we want no art here, if it is what they want they should go to Şişli.


    Thinking about the recently performed brutal and vandalist attack, one can/must clearly see that the attackers attacked to people who have certain ways of life. Saying that, I do not estimate the effect of gentrification but a legitimate question to ask would be if these people had not drunk wine and yet had been facilitators of the “so called” gentrification process, would they had been still attacked? The answer is a big no. In the eyes of the attackers, wine represented the way of life and the people who made the gentrification process possible.

    On the other hand, It is well-known that the administration of Tophane belongs to the governing party and this party has been acting ruthlessly in gentrification process when it comes to making money by transforming these traditional and somewhat conservative districts into money-making, “modern” and touristic zones. That is, no social or economic study has been made to facilitate the lives of these people who are affected from gentrification. The problem is that these people, namely the attackers or their friends in the neighborhood can not distinguish who is making their lives miserable. It is not the artists or those who visit the exibitions but on the contrary it is the people they have voted for.

    I am more that confident to say that if these people had not drunk wine, had appeared somewhat conservative to the neighborhood, they would not have been attacked.


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