Thursday, November 20, 2003

the bombings today

I have changed my blog title for today because of the news that's just come through.
I heard about the bombings at lunchtime: I felt sorrow and anger. I know the area round the consulate really well, having spent many times in Taksim. I saw the list of the dead and injured in hurriyet. Most of them were Turkish names. And this was a strike against 'British interests'?
The bomb must have been huge, judging by the devastation by the gates. My mind is on all those poor guys who work in that crowded intersection in front of the consulate: the spices and snacks guy and the grocer who work the entrance to cicek pasaji nearby: the bloke who sold dreams of money with his national lottery tickets: the man and his apprentice boys who sweated and slaved from the middle of the night to the closing of the day making bread, pastries and cakes: the noise and joy of yorgo's wineshop, on the slope leading down to the main road: the taxi driver i always saw outside the consulate, sipping on a glass of tea and smoking, never seeming to go anywhere: the men who pushed great handbarrows up and down the slope of tepebasi, one day carrying rags, another trays of simit, yet another great bales of unknown things: the vendor of pens and bags and schoolbooks in the tiny shop on the corner: All the rush and hurl of life, running and trudging through that junction, slipping onto Istiklal caddesi, or into cicek pasaji, or down into one of a hundred miniature alleys. All of it ripped to pieces.
These bombings, and those of last week.....why? in the name of all that is holy, why? the people who've done this call themselves devout and pious Muslims. Is that why they attack innocent people during the Holy Month of Ramadan, and on the eve of one of the most important days in the Islamic calendar? One of the words that comes to mind to describe them is heretic. Make no mistakes, those who did this cannot be truly described as muslims. Where, in the Holy Qu'ran, does it give sanction to this kind of act?
I know I'm being disjointed and rambling, but that's how I feel. I love Istanbul dearly, even though I no longer live there. My mind and heart still drift back to it in moments of reverie, and I find myself once more walking down the sad bustle of Istiklal, or wandering through the Secret Maze of Old Istanbul, looking for the truth that pushed Emporer and Sultan to walk incognito in the same way. And now some bastard, in the name of a bastard truth, has done this. Leave my City! Leave my friends and the faces I know! Istanbul has survived worse than you, I know, and will carry on after you have been buried and forgotten.
I mourn for all those who have died today and those from last week. I mourn for all those families who have been affected by this. I mourn for the blow to this mournful and joyous, wild and sedate City.
Please do not view me as being on the side of Bush or Blair - far from it, I firmly believe that the way these two have behaved over the last two years has been nothing short of criminal, particularly in the way the war in Iraq has been prosecuted, which is in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention. Yet I cannot possibly be on the side of the dangerously misguided fools who did this. Blood should not be answered with blood, no matter how desperate one is.

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