Some of the demonstrations have been violent on each side - police using excessive force, tear gas, fire hoses, rubber bullets - even real bullets - against unarmed and generally non-violent civilians. but some of the demonstrators have thrown molotov cocktails and even used guns, too. hard to say who struck first - but the general consensus among the citizens in Istanbul is that they are the innocent parties and the government forces are the aggressors. that seemed to be true from the protests we saw - lots of marching, chanting, flag-waving, picket signs, etc - but no destruction or violence. every night at 9:00 there was 15 minutes of noise - cars honking, pots & pans banging, shouting, clapping on the streets - and many are flying and waving flags. apparently this is unusual - to have such wide-spread solidarity. but in outlying regions the religious conservatives are stronger. We walked and drove past and through several demonstrations and did not feel threatened. most of what we saw was almost a party-atmosphere - with an exhilaration that was edgy - reminded me of the barricade scenes in Les Mis and of the anti-Viet Nam war rallies of my college days. they are against the prime minister and his repressive party - not westerners. in fact the demonstrations seem to be a statement in favor of democracy and western-style freedoms and against religious dictatorship. but we did not feel it wise to do much photography - since many are nervous about government crackdowns and fear those who may be recording or documenting the action.
we have moved on now to Italy.
"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself... And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity." - Paulo Coelho