Last night at 9pm, people all over Turkey banged and clanged their pots and pans. Friends reported absolute riots of protesting cacophony in Cihangir, Cukurcuma, Besiktas... But my neighborhood was silent with the exception of me and one other pot banger down the street (probably another foreigner or alternative Turk.) From their flats old men shouted angrily at us to stop. Why, i wondered.
My neighborhood is a poor, un-western, area filled with poor, religious Turks. And they support Tayip Erdogan and the AKP Party. Because for them, life has become slightly better in the years since the AK Party took power. Inflation has been cut. They are able to hold jobs that pay the rent. There is no war. They live relatively peaceful, content lives.
When I think of all the people i've seen protesting on the streets these last 5 days, I realize, I rarely (if ever) saw covered women. These were not the poor, disenfranchised of Turkey on the streets of Turkey. These were the secular, educated.
The people of my neighborhood don't see what's happening on Facebook. They happily watch the Penguin Documentary aired by CNN Turk, listen to Erdogan on the news chastise the trouble-makers and tsk tsk tsk their tongues at the mayhem.
I think it's still a long way before Turkey unites in its visions. The vast Anatolian population lies at the opposite end of the continuum from the Western freedom seekers. The poor still give thanks for small favors: meat and rice on the dinner table, a TV, peace to live their simple lives. The people on the streets protesting desire a democratic cornucopia of freedom.