On Sunday, 13 March 2016, a car bomb exploded in the Turkish capital of Ankara killing 37 and injuring more than 100 in the city’s Kizilay district. As the author has spent time in the Kizilay district—and has many friends who live in the area—this bombing hit close to home. The fact that it is the third such bombing to hit the city in less than six months makes it even more of a cause for concern.
Image Courtesy Of: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35798517
The bombing, attributed by the Turkish government to the Kurdish PKK, comes on the heels of several noteworthy developments on the Turkish political scene. The first was on Friday, 4 March 2016, when the government shut down the offices of an opposition newspaper, Today’s Zaman, run by erstwhile Erdogan ally cleric Fethullah Gulen . Later, on 8 March 2016, a conference at Ankara’s Ataturk Sports and Presentation center marked the 92nd anniversary of the Islamic Caliphate’s abolishment; the conference, organized by Hizb-ut Tahrir, called ISIS/ISIL a “military organization”. Finally, on 10 March, 2016, Turkish first-lady Emine Erdogan made controversial remarks that described the Ottoman Empire’s harem as an “educational establishment that prepared women for life”. These three events were worrisome in and of themselves, markers of an increasingly authoritarian state that harbors visions of recreating the Ottoman past in the modern republic.
Unfortunately, the consequences of such polarizing rhetoric hit the country hard in the form of Sunday’s bombing. Don’t expect much news out of Turkey, however; the organizers of a group of academics who criticized the Turkish offensive on Kurdish cities in January were arrested on Monday while a ban on media coverage of the bombings has been ordered as well as a ban on social media.
The saddest part of it all is that violence has become so commonplace in Turkey that it is affecting all strata of society—including the “rich and famous”. Galatasaray striker Umut Bulut’s father, Kemal Bulut, was tragically killed in the Ankara blasts on Sunday night. The wide-reaching consequences of this violence cannot be understated. The 12 Numara fan group of the Fenerbahce football team tweeted “The team you support is not important. If you want to give a solid message against terror write #DerbideOmuzOmuza [#ShoulderToShoulderInTheDerby] to give support” ahead of the weekend’s Istanbul derby against Galatasaray.
The situation in Turkey is becoming more and more unstable, as many media outlets have noted. The recent events show that no one is immune, and that is certainly a something we all need to keep in mind—people living in the West included. Ankara may not be Paris or New York to many, but to me all cities, regardless of their geographic location, are the same.
My thoughts go out to Umut Bulut and all those who were affected by this tragic event.