Photographers' Blog

Taksim Square: One woman’s protest

Istanbul, Turkey

By Murad Sezer

Anti-government protests have gripped Turkey for almost two weeks, and Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square and adjoining Gezi Park have become a center of the demonstrations, with thousands flocking there to voice their opposition to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK party.

Ayse Diskaya is one of them. She is a 48-year-old housewife, an active member of the left-wing cultural organisation Halkevleri, a women’s rights activist – and now a Gezi Park protester. Riot police cleared the square early on Wednesday but Ayse says she will return to Gezi Park later in the day.

Ayse lives in an apartment building in Okmeydani, a poor neighborhood of Istanbul, along with her husband and two sons. Until two weeks ago, her daily routine consisted of taking care of the house and working to promote women’s education. Since then it has involved heading down to Gezi Park to protest against the government and helping out with a stand that Halkevleri set up there.

Ayse has taken part in the Gezi Park demonstrations because of her involvement with women’s issues. She is worried about new policies brought in by the Islamist-rooted ruling party, which she thinks will have a negative impact on women. “I’m against the government because their approach to women issues is not modern,” she said.

She is not alone in her concerns: many secularists in Turkey have expressed worry about education reforms, which critics accuse of promoting an Islamic agenda, as well as new abortion laws and legislation to restrict alcohol sales. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan denies their accusations of authoritarian behaviour.

Dispatch from Taksim Square

Istanbul, Turkey

By Murad Sezer

Taksim Square is the heart of Istanbul. It’s the meeting point for lovers, tourists and protesters.

On the weekends if you stroll around the square and crowded Istiklal street, a hub for shopping and bars, you can witness various political demonstrations. Women protest against domestic violence, soccer fans gather, anti-government far leftists groups rally and on Saturdays mothers demand to know the fate of their missing relatives. Riot police are never far away, so it’s no big surprise if you smell tear gas all of a sudden in the middle of Taksim.

This time-lapse video shows demonstrators at Taksim Square, Istanbul, over a 24-hour period on June 5, 2013.

Goodbye to hell

In the second half of the 2010-2011 Turkish football season Galatasaray moved to its new home ground in Istanbul, the Turk Telekom Arena, a 52,000-seat multi-purpose stadium replacing the Ali Sami Yen Stadium.

The fate of the legendary Ali Sami Yen Stadium is now sealed.

Ali Sami Yen stadium in Istanbul 2010. REUTERS/Sevim Sen

The demolition of Ali Sami Yen, one of the most iconic venues in Turkish football and the home to one of the three oldest Istanbul football clubs Galatsaray for 47 years, started last week. For almost half a century, the yellow-and-red lions hosted their rivals in this temple with the slogan “welcome to hell”. The stadium played host to victories against European giants FC Barcelona, A.Bilbao, AC Milan, Real Madrid, E.Frankfurt, and a historic victory against Neuchatel Xamax. Most notably it was the scene of Galatasaray’s triumphal UEFA Cup campaign in 2000.

Galatasaray soccer fans cheer during the Turkish Super league derby soccer match between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce at Ali Sami Yen stadium in Istanbul March 28, 2010. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

The team played all its home group and qualification matches for the 2000 UEFA Cup at the stadium before winning the final against Arsenal in Copenhagen, the biggest success in the history of Turkish football.
World renowned Italian referee Pierluigi Collina even once admitted: “I love this Hell.” It was witness to unforgettable national and international football matches, hosting world class teams, players, coaches and referees. The stadium witnessed 14 of Galatasaray’s 17 Turkish league titles. Opened in 1964, Ali Sami Yen Stadium has always played a major part in the Turkish football scene, being home to Galatasaray’s heyday and many victories of the Turkish national football team.

Overtaken by events

It is a bizarre image – the red and white Formula One car hangs in the air above the black and white one in what appears to be an unconventional overtaking manouvre until you notice the loose bits. The caption reads, “Force India Formula One driver Giancarlo Fisichella of Italy (top) and Williams Formula One driver Kazuki Nakajima of Japan crash after the start of  the F1 Grand Prix of Turkey at Istanbul Park May 11, 2008. REUTERS/Karoly Arvai (TURKEY)”.

 Fly Kingfisher

Fisichella took off after shunting Nakajima on the first bend. The collision was dramatic but while it trashed the cars, neither driver was hurt although they couldn’t agree about whose fault it was.  

Fly

It wasn’t a complete disaster. Force India’s sponsors must be very encouraged, their sign says “Fly Kingfisher” and it does guys, it really does.

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