While the city of Istanbul enjoyed itself with a Metallica concert, the party died down with the news of a bombing in the Istanbul neighborhood of Güngören, leaving at least 17 people dead and over 150 people injured. Reactions to the news in the Turkish blogosphere were slow, but between speculation as to who is behind the attacks and protests against terrorism, one thing has become quite clear….this hasn't been the first time, and it sure won't be the last.
Metroblogging Istanbul writes the following, which appears to be the common sentiment of Turkish bloggers:
Last night two bombs went off in the area of Gungoren – killing 17 and injuring 154. Two RDX bombs went off at 15 minutes interval, the first was a smaller explosion aimed at getting people to flock towards the sound of the bomb to see if they could help in case anyone was injured and the second set off 15 minutes later, with a bigger blast, turning the area into a war zone. The PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] are obviously the first group that come to mind in case of terror attacks but lets not forget El Kaide [Al Qaeda], who attacked the American embassy in Istanbul not long ago. This isn’t the first and it will unfortunately certainly not be the last terror attack against Istanbul, we’re all like sitting ducks provided security measures are not increased.
Erkan's Field Diary adds the following viewpoint:
I first thought it was another bomb without much damage. But then came more news and helplessness of such brutality. When I was in high school, my uncle had a shop near the explosion site. I had worked there for a summer. I know the place. It is really upsetting. The usual suspect is PKK.
There are copious videos on the web of the bombing and its aftermath, Carpetblogger (an expat blogger) wrote about the nature of bombings, specifically how bombings are viewed by the public in Turkey:
Most bombings in Turkey are credited — fairly or unfairly — to the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party). If you read about a bombing in Istanbul that is blamed on the PKK, you can be pretty sure of a couple of things:
* It occurred in a distant, obscure Turkish neighborhood. The last night happened in Gungorne and we still haven't figured out where it is. Based on the news coverage, it looked downscale and not religious — none of the victims were wearing headscarves and some were in tank tops. In fact, it looked like hundreds of other ordinary Istanbul neighborhoods stacked with poorly built concrete apartment buildings and small shops, filled with people out strolling on hot summer night.
* It probably didn't target foreigners. I don't know why PKK avoids higher profile targets like Taksim Square or Istiklal Caddesi where there are tons of Turks and foreigners, but they generally don't bomb these places.
Playing the Blame Game
As with most terror incidents in Turkey, the finger of blame falls upon the Kurdish terror group, the PKK. However, as Kurdish blogger Rasti points out, the PKK (and related groups) have denied the accusation. In a related post, Mideast Youth laments the tendency to blame the Kurds and the effect that it has on the Kurdish rights movement:
While listening to news reporters wonder on who is responsible, and recounting the attacks throughout history by the PKK, the first thing I thought of was our Kurdish Rights campaign. People continue to claim that such a campaign is pro-terrorism, an absurd and false accusation that implies all Kurds are terrorists. It’s worth noting that numerous peaceful Kurds have also been abused as “traitors” to their cause and caught in such attacks by extremists. Such terrorist attacks do not illegitimize the fight for Kurdish human rights and Kurds should not be collectively punished for this as their vast majority are innocent and in fact do not approve of these violent tactics.
Saying No to Terror
It doesn't take a Turkish politics expert to decipher the energy of today's rally in Güngören. A diverse crowd, absolutely not aggressive, yet very determined, passionate. Lots of interaction along the way with those who were watching from balconies and sidewalks: a genuine neighborhood action, more like our Maidan in 2004 than anything I've ever seen in Moscow. In Russia, though, they bring flowers to the site of the tragedy, while here there were only a few carnations attached to flags.
Despite the speculation, despite the protests, Turkish sentiment seems unchanged to the latest bombing, as Erkan's Field Diary stated:
At the societal level, I don't believe this will really trigger panic or communal strife. Turks are just too used to this stuff by now. Life goes on….