Graying of ‘rainbow’ steps in Istanbul causes immediate backlash

Graying of ‘rainbow’ steps in Istanbul causes immediate backlash

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily news
Graying of ‘rainbow’ steps in Istanbul causes immediate backlash

Hürriyet Photo

Steps linking the Istanbul neighborhoods of Cihangir and Fındıklı, which had attracted attention after being painted in rainbow colors by a local man on Aug. 27, were all painted grey on the night of Aug. 29, prompting reactions on social media.

Beyoğlu Municipality immediately denied that it was responsible for repainting the steps, but a number of eyewitnesses claim that it was the work of municipality workers.

The municipality said it was not yet clear who painted the stairs grey, saying the issue was being “looked at in detail.” It told the Hürriyet Daily News that a statement would be issued regarding the re-painted stairs when they found out who was responsible.

Locals behind the colorful steps

The “rainbow stairs” were painted last week and stirred interest among residents and tourists when social media users spread pictures. It was first thought that the makers were gay right groups, who have been gaining more visibility since the beginning of the Gezi Park incidents started in late May against a redevelopment plan in Taksim Square. However, it turned out to be a simple Istanbul local, Hüseyin Çetinel, who had painted the nearly 200 stairs with his assistant, Volkan Tecimeroğlu.

Çelikel painted only three of the steps at first, but said he decided to paint them all after hearing very positive comments from passers-by. Joined by three of his friends, he spent around 1,500 Turkish Liras, nearly $725, and the painting took a week’s work and 40 kilos of paint.

The retired engineer said his only aim was to “beautify his surroundings.”

“It was the seven colors of the rainbow and shining. Now look at it, it’s ashes now,” Doğan News Agency quoted him as saying.

Çetinel said he was not considering re-painting the stairs.

Eyewitnesses said there were municipality vehicles in the area in the morning.

In response to the graying, social media users have already organized an event to repaint the steps, set to take place on Aug. 31 at 5pm. The event called on everyone to gather at the stairs to create the rainbow again. “Take your brush and come,” became a call on social media websites, while thousands used the #resiststeps hashtag on Twitter and Facebook, becoming Twitter’s most trending topic.

“There were rumors about an intervention yesterday. But we didn’t believe it could be true,” said Volkan Tecimeroğlu, according to a report on Bianet.

“I was told that the steps were painted grey in the morning. I am deeply saddened, it’s awful. I hadn’t painted them for a particular group, or to take particular action,” he told Doğan News Agency.