Iconic Istanbul neighborhoods are struggling
Beyoğlu on the European side of Istanbul and Bağdat Street on the Anatolian side are sad. Morale is down for the owners of shops and those working in these shops. There is no business. They are even longing for the economic crisis of the early summer. No need to say that shopping for the bayram period was quite weak.
On iconic İstiklal Street, one can distinguish the high number of Arabs. Too many of them are strolling and few sit down; in other words, few are eating and drinking. No one is spending money.
Some are saying Beyoğlu has lost its true character.
Shopkeepers are leaving İstiklal Street in dire straits, unable to pay the rent. The owners are concerned obviously… Bağdat Street is also emptying. Famous foreign brands are running away. It seems a foreign supermarket chain has been unable to pay its employees for the past three months.
The restaurants facing the pier in Karaköy have been closing. A “for rent” sign has hung in the façade of a hotel for more than a year. Starbucks left Karaköy. In the past famous brands used to pay high rents just to be visible in important centers. This means their income can no longer afford the rents. If I were to tell you that banks have been moving to small streets from main arteries and main streets, then you might start to think that the crisis is more serious than it looks.
Shopkeepers are waiting patiently for the summer to pass.
It is the same with big shopping malls like İstinyepark, Akmerkez and Zorlu. Turks are not going where Arabs are going and the Arabs establish their own culture, just like in Taksim and Talimhane. You can see what is being eaten and drunk in these shops, what music is playing. And then you can ask: Where are the Turks going?
Just as I was writing these lines a friend from Denizli, the location of Pamukkale, one of Turkey’s biggest tourist attractions, called me. This is what he said.
“We used to have at least 1500 busses to Pamukkale each day. Now there are around 30 to 40. And obviously there are no foreign tourists. We are the tourists. And the same is true for Bodrum, Antalya, Cappadocia...”
Prison terms under emergency rule
What are the biggest complaints of the inmates in Silivri Prison?
Here is the note sent by a group of families:
1) The inmates do not have permission to get books.
2) The letters sent to them do not reach them.
3) The letters they write are not accepted.
4) They are not even given a pen and paper to write.
The only alibi provided by the prison’s administration is that too many inmates came to the prison during the state of emergency; they ask for too many books and receive too many letters.
Those bans were put in force arguing that monitoring has become too difficult.
Yet pen and paper and books are very important for the inmates, the majority of whom are academics, writers and journalists. The inmates and their families are reacting to this practice, which is a violation of a fundamental right.