Neighbors and foreigners in Turkey

Neighbors and foreigners in Turkey

Neighbors and foreigners in Turkey Last week I wrote about how some people came to my apartment door and damaged it; they were the relatives of the noisy family living upstairs. Their intention was, I don’t know, to offer me bayram chocolate?

Anyway, many readers wrote to me, mostly foreigners living in Turkey, who were also victims of noisy neighbors, suffering consequences of the discrimination of being a foreigner in Turkey… I noticed we all have something in common; that we are all foreigners. I am a foreigner in my own country, suffering from the same estrangement… But I am keen on not laughing out loud in public, as deputy PM Bülent Arınç instructed.   Here are what foreigners have gone through with neighbors in Turkey:

Nico and Marianne from the Netherlands: “We had the same experience with our neighbors in Anamur: Screaming, yelling, slamming and a lot of noise during dinner. Children who do not get the right command to stop their yelling and so on. Also, some other neighbors put up a big TV screen in their garden with a lot of noise in the evening and night. Also, children are running around until 3 o’clock in the night. We left Anamur, at least for the summer season, and will maybe come back in winter time. We do not want to sell our house this moment, but the ‘selling moment’ is near. So sorry…” Another reader, Roussin Filipov, from Bulgaria wrote: “Dear Belgin, I liked your O’Henry-style bad experience, but be sure it happens all over the world and mostly at our latitude – komşuyuz biz [We are neighbors]. And, please, take my advice – take a cat to sit along with you; they know how to defend their loved ones!”
This is what Carlos wrote, whose wife is Turkish: “Dear Belgin, your article describes what we foreigners living in Turkey have seen every day for a long time. Unfortunately, this trend as you pointed out is fed from top. These are the seeds of fascism; we already passed through it in the old Europe. Hope you find a suitable house and neighborhood.”

And a German-born Turkish woman who has always been discriminated against since childhood wrote to me, saying she was crying as she read my piece. The family had health problems, abuses, legal issues and was always commuting between Germany and Turkey. She and her sister even had to live on the streets some time. She has been unlucky with men in addition to neighbors complaining, so she and her sister tried to make a life in Turkey. They believe I am lucky I have a son.

She thinks she and her sister are just too clever, too nice and too conscious for this country. People have complained about their cats and neighbors have attacked them; their neighbors are either all villagers with no idea about how to live in an urban environment or uneducated people who have never read a complete book in their lives. Everybody in their building supported the neighbor who kicked on her door last year.

Munia Enouchi wrote “@belginakaltan Welcome back, we missed you!” in Twitter. This has nothing to do with the theme of neighbors and the side theme of women laughing aloud in public… It is only self-promotion.

Aiman Yunes writes: “Dear Belgin, I was to Istanbul last year and I totally agree with you. Istanbul is a large, chaotic city, people come from all over Turkey to invest everything they have, dreaming of wealth. There is a common feeling of disrespecting the law.” He suggested we adopt radical measures and pointed out Singapore as a “fine city” as a good example.

Tevfik Alp from Connecticut said: “Belgin Hanım: My heart cries for your inconvenience and troubles. I believe every word you have said. I have lived through similar instances while I was living in Turkey. I know and I understand exactly what you have been through. I have experienced some events with the police and customs in Turkey. Those events are difficult to forget and forgive. I hope something like that never happens again and you recover and gather peace and quiet in your world.”  

Nico and Marianne from The Netherlands wrote to me again when I asked permission to print their story: They pointed out the “very bad” change in the political climate: “Four or five years, everything was were OK but then ‘something’ changed. The political climate changed in a very bad way. For us foreigners this brings us back memories of the years 1933-1945 in Germany. Poor Turkey. Take care Belgin and tell us when you have moved…”  

It was interesting to read that Europeans who have settled in Turkey are pointing out to the era before and during World War II in Europe, likening the atmosphere of the Erdoğan era here to the footsteps of fascism…

Oh God, what did I do wrong that you made me be born in Turkey in these weird times, as a woman, as a Muslim and as a Turk? I love my country and I am proud to be a Turk – not so much to be a Muslim woman – but I can accept it. Well then, why God, why? Why are the circumstances so adverse for my female Turkish Muslim identity? I laugh so hard and loud that I am afraid Arınç or his warriors will come and get me…