Istanbul, January 17, 2016 (Alochonaa): I wanted to say a few words about the attack here in Istanbul mainly to highlight the difference between how people here and people in the West respond to such incidents. I also want to point out how the media representation differs from reality.
People are saddened by the attack but they are resilient and life returns to normal very quickly. The only area that was closed was the immediate vicinity of where the attack occurred. Walk one minute from there and everything is open, life is normal. Restaurants, bars and cafes were all open yesterday and last night. As many people as usual were out and about.
People here do not see the attack as one against them personally or their way of life. They put it in perspective. They do not return to work or go out to eat in the area as a courageous show defiance or a stand against the terrorists. They don’t give the terrorist that much significance.
Most people here don’t think the target was Western tourists per se or German tourists in particular. Although the area is frequented by tourists, the particular spot where the detonation occurred is one of the less crowded parts. It was a very soft target where security personnel are not usually stationed.
To be honest, the locals do not seem to dwell on the issue too much. They see the deaths of people as very tragic but life goes on. Most people in this area are concerned about how the incident will impact on their livelihood. Tourism is already down due to the war over the border in Syria, ongoing PKK issues and the strained relations with Russia.
I’m seeing the typical social media posts about ‘standing with Istanbul’, ‘pray for Istanbul’, blah, blah, blah. Istanbul is not afraid of terrorists. It understands why they exit and wants an end to the conditions that create terrorists, refugees, suffering and misery.
*Halim Rane is an Associate Professor of Islam-West Relations in the School of Humanities at Griffith University. His latest book (written with Jacqui Ewart and John Martinkus) is Media Framing of the Muslim World: Conflicts, Crises and Contexts.
**He was named as the best university teacher of Australia by the Federal Government in 2015
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