We are broken. We are furious. And we have every right to be, says Dogukan Günaydın recalling of the Istanbul airport attack.
Istanbul was attacked. Its international airport, the third busiest in Europe, torn asunder by the pangs of extremism. I was shocked and terrified.
I was fiercely scrolling through Twitter — the one and only objective method in Turkey to learn what had happened. I knew something big must have happened, but could not know who, what, and why. The Turkish government’s censorship of this tragic event didn’t help either.
Even before guessing who had perpetrated these attacks this time, I tried contacting my family to know if they were safe. It was the fifteenth major terror incident in the last twelve months. No one can and should be used to senseless violence like this.
The details were quite abstract; there was too much conflicting information flow about the shootings and explosions. The footage, too hard to handle for the same mind. Even the initial number of casualties were devastating. Dozens brutally murdered — how? Why? There were horrifying updates each second in the social media. I was hopelessly trying to reach out to anyone who could have possibly be there.
It was a matter of hours that the number of casualties estimated by the officials, who were seemingly unwilling to assume responsibility, was way off. Only a day after it was confirmed that at least 42 people were killed and over 200 were wounded. As the details of the attack emerged fully, everyone realized that this was not not only an attack, it was senseless slaughter.
People were brutally massacred in ostensibly the safest place in the country — beautiful Istanbul. Not even Istanbul is safe from madness. Social media trends like #prayforturkey are all but insufficient gestures to thwart terror attacks in cosmopolitan epicenters like the city I’ve known and loved.
Our compatriots’ reactions left little to be desired
Within minutes after the attack Borzou Daragah reported that official taxi drivers of the Istanbul airport demanded $100 each to drive passengers away from the bomb scene. Obviously, drivers decided that such attack could lead a great economic profit . All that they had to do was to overcharge, exploiting stranded people in desperate need for help.
Comparing this situation to the Brussels attack this spring, when taxi drivers drove victims for free, things were a bit cruel in Istanbul. There were some moments of hope in the face of this nightmare. For example, officials were significantly more efficient than the Belgians in restoring clarity and order. After the night’s searing tragedy, our airport was fully functioning within hours, as if nothing had ever even happened. In fact, the long-awaited grand opening of the world’s fourth longest suspension bridge in Turkey was celebrated with joy and resolve only two days after the attack.
But the reaction to this horrifying chapter in modern Turkey reminds us all of the deep-seated problems our nation faces.
In an unsurprising manner to this Turkish citizen, not a single official resigned.
In the larger picture, this event has left me wondering what has happened to my once-democratic Turkey, now a de facto dictatorship with alleged links to terror affiliates.
Our state-influenced media stated that these attacks were perpetrated by terrorists to overshadow and overwhelm Turkey’s latest diplomatic achievements. The media went further to minimize my government’s shortcomings in preventing such tragedy. Its repercussions were also understated accordingly. According to our journalists, only tourism would suffer — and suffer for only a short time (just months!) at that.
Terrorists once again declared war on innocent citizenry across the world. They attacked the Turkish people. And to my deepest chagrin, in the face of the faith I still have in our people and politics, all our government was concerned with was optics, passing the buck, and savings face.