Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Taksim Square Book Club, Istanbul

The leading news today is certainly the massive protests against President Morsi in Egypt. But uprisings of great importance continue in Turkey & Brazil. After Turkish artist Erdem Gunduz stood facing the Atatürk Cultural Center in Taksim Square, Istanbul in silent protest, the silent “Standing Man” protests have continued to grow & now include "The Taksim Square Book Club,” where many activists stand reading a book.

The Atatürk Center is the focus of protests because of the political respect held for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, an Ottoman & Turkish army officer & the first president of Turkey. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI & the consequent occupation by Allied forces, he led the national movement for independence which defeated the Allied occupation. He then developed a program of political, economic, & cultural reforms transforming the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, secular nation-state. He is considered the father of Turkish democracy.

The silent protestors are reading many different kinds of books, including novels, short stories, & philosophical books by Turkish writers & others from around the world. Many add silent irony to their protest by reading George Orwell’s “1984”--which may be more a case of flipping the bird to Erdogan than irony. One woman here is reading “The Speech,” the text of a speech by Atatürk & the other is reading a biography of Atatürk. One can only admire the silent audacity.

(Photo by George Henton/Al Jazeera)

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