Old 06-24-2013, 07:59 PM   #1
Fred O'Malley
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Default An impact of flash mobs on revolution

There are dozens of outraged men on a street near Gezi Park, which is packed with hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. These people work in those very hotels and restaurants.

Just about five minutes before, a group of young guys wearing scarves had decided to tease the police, so those men threatened to give them a spanking. When it didn’t work and the gang called out “Erdogan, go away!” the workers poured out into the street and settled the score with the young men without resorting to violence. I was staying in one of the hotels on this street, where I have been the only guest for the past two weeks. My window on the 8th floor which overlooks Gezi Park was broken. All staff members I had a chance to talk to were not fans of Erdogan or the JDP party. You can buy alcohol in their cafes and hotels, and the more they sell, the better it is. They were right when they assumed that tourists would be much more attracted by places overlooking a park than a shopping mall or a mosque, let alone a construction site.

These people were sympathetic to the protesters in the camp and discussed it with enthusiasm. But in the days of the protests they made no profit at all.

Yes, they disapprove of the police storming of the protest camp, and they agreed the police had gone too far firing tear gas against such a non-threatening camp. Yes, they were not pleased to hear the prime minister calling the protesters “looters”.

But they don’t like it when members of the opposition come to their street shouting slogans, throwing stones, writing on walls and provoking the police to use tear gas against them. They are not fine with such a course of events as it may be fraught with their poverty.

RT Photo / Nadezhda Kevorkova

RT Photo / Nadezhda Kevorkova

Once politics gives way to political technology – a revolution turns into a flash mob.

One German reporter said “the new Turks” protest against “Islamic Philistinism”. It’s unclear whether the protesters will accept this kind of assessment, but people haven’t understood their new-fangled ways of self-expression, so those ways have become quite weird.

Activists posted a call in social networks for all Turkish citizens to freeze for just several seconds at 8PM sharp as a protest against arrests and other severe police measures. As a result, people have been silently protesting in front of the Marmara Hotel on Taksim Square for several days.

On the second floor of the hotel there’s a cafe with a fantastic view over the Square. However you’re not allowed to take any photos, even with your cell phone. This is the warning you get from waiters who are watching clients very closely. But you can stay in this cooled place as long as you want to look at the Square and drinking overpriced water or coffee. Makes you wonder why the hotel hasn’t started selling tickets to watch the show.

In the mornings there are just a few people standing on the Square. Their number keeps increasing during the day, and by the night, about a thousand people fill the place.

They stand and stare into eternity. Some people are facing the huge Ataturk portrait on the Cultural Center. Others are looking at the Gezi Park which is still surrounded by police, and more police are standing or sitting behind the cordon. By the way, policemen are reading books instead of relaxing. Photographers who got to take a closer look at their books through their lenses commented that policemen were reading Tolstoy and Umberto Eco and that those books were specially delivered there for the police.

RT Photo / Nadezhda Kevorkova

RT Photo / Nadezhda Kevorkova

The Stand-off protesters refuse interviews, speaking or communicating. Reporters walk among these lines of people standing there like dummies, and make their stories with them in the background. Occasionally you can get some of the protesters to talk but mostly they boycott the media.

A Muslim man who came over to look at this event noted how strongly Islam had rooted in people’s mentality. Even in their protest against ‘Islamization’ both atheists and agnostics were standing in lines like Muslims during their Salah. ‘Maybe this would help them finally open their eyes?’ he said.

A young hipster in a lab coat is already in a way opening his eyes. A sophomore in a medical college, he is from a good family and speaks fluent English. He is not standing – he’s sitting and watching, ready to offer medical help if someone has sunstroke because of the heat. He agrees to talk to us. He tells us about Muslims coming to Gezi Park to give away simits and sweets on June 9, the day of the Isra and Mi'raj (The Night Journey of Prophet Muhammad to Jerusalem).

“I am more tolerant of their religion now that I’ve learned something about Islam,” he says. He refers to it as “their religion”.

That’s how the future doctor sees the situation developing: “There are three possible options. The military could stage a coup, but there are no chances of this happening. The government could resign, but that’s very unlikely. Probably it will all just quiet down with time.”

RT Photo / Nadezhda Kevorkova

RT Photo / Nadezhda Kevorkova

It hasn’t quieted down yet, and so many people keep standing for hours. Some grow too tired and sit down on the ground.

There are artists here who draw the standing people, and photographers who do long photo shoots, especially when they find model-looking girls standing.

Taksim Square and the Standoff itself have already become tourist attractions. Tourists that come here on sightseeing buses sometimes watch the standing protesters and reading policemen from the windows, sometimes they listen to their tour guides, walk through the lines of standing people and take pictures with them in the background.

Gay rights activists can also be found among the protesters. One of them urges the people to join hands and face Gezi Park and the policemen instead of Ataturk’s portrait to make their point clearer. People are reluctant to listen to him, but eager to take his picture.

Yesterday a group of burly bearded men appeared in the square wearing T-shirts with “Standing man against the standing man” on them. They don’t say a word, either. From time to time senior citizens approach them with hopes of persuading them that what they’re doing is wrong. Reporters have a new background to use in their stories.

Soon after the protesters started getting creative. A young man made a poster that said “Standing man against the standing men against the standing man”. Then a girl came with a “Mom! I’m standing here just because!” poster.

It’s curious that two mobile phone games about the events on Taksim Square. In one the player’s task is to run away from the police, and in the other – to collect lemons that help negate the effects of a gas attack. We’ll have to wait and see what games the Standoff will create.

http://rt.com/op-edge/istanbul-impac...evolution-005/
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