Monday, June 3, 2013

Graffiti in Turkey Protests

    This is so awesome. Wonderful small stories all around.
    Some mosques are taking hurt protesters in to patch them up. Then I saw a tweet earlier from famous Beşiktaş fan group Çarşı who were calling all protesters entering mosques to remove shoes and drop stones, clubs, and beer bottles.
    Different soccer fan groups, but particularly Beşiktaş Çarşı group, were on the frontlines, cooperating with other fan groups. There was a tweet about a Çarşı member calling 155 (police hotline) to say that it is already noon and the police are late!
    There is constant ongoing twitter exchange about where there is heavy police existence, where they are doing body searches, where doctors are needed, and where voluntary lawyers should go to help out detained protesters.

    Here is another fun graffiti. It says "You messed with a generation who grew up beating up cops in GTA", referring to famous video game series Grand Theft Auto. Humor is really not lost to the protestors despite police brutality. Another graffiti read "I could not think of a slogan." One of my favorites though was: "With this much gas, the government can shit at any moment." To shit is commonly used as "to fuck up" in Turkish.
    Another graffiti reads "Rich protesters have higher quality gas masks. We are jealous." As funny as this one is, the gas mask situation is very important. I've watched multiple short videos about how you can make a gas mask with common house items. Apparently, many residents at Beşiktaş put up stands at apartment building entrances last night to provide lemon, vinegar and water for running protesters to help with the effects of the tear gas.
    Ah, I just saw several examples of one of the best graffiti. "Please don't come back!" clearly referring to Prime Minister Erdoğan who left for a trip to North Africa in the midst of all these protests.
    Another good one: "Enough! I will call the cops." Threatening to call the cops on the cops is the perfect irony. But we should underline the little hint in the joke: It reflects how this is not a revolutionary moment but a peaceful protest effort from within the system. The cops might be obeying the orders to contain the protesters brutally, but the graffiti artist calls for an imaginery better cop to deal with the cop abusing his authority. The protester is ultimately a law-abiding citizen, not "a marauder" or "a marginal".

    Here is another graffiti: "Tayyip, winter is coming." It is referring to famous TV series "Game of Thrones" based on George R. R. Martin novels. I am not sure if the graffiti artist intended it but it fits perfectly with the debate over whether this is the "Turkish Spring", reminding the "Arab Spring". Today, both the Prime Minister Erdoğan and the Minister of Youth and Sports Kılıç talked about how they disliked identfying the protests as the "Turkish Spring". Erdoğan even vaguely talked about how Turkey is in the brink of entering the "Turkish Summer." I think the discussion over the Arab and Turkish springs carries Orientalist tones with a Turkish flavor. There is a clear distaste here for being compared to Arab countries, which are supposed to follow Turkey's example. Regardless of the accuracy of the comparison, I find this Orientalist perspective particularly neo-imperialistic and disturbing. Superimposed on this background, I have to say I really enjoyed "Tayyip, winter is coming"!

    Another good one: "You shouldn't have banned that last beer", referring to the anti-alcohol ban.

    "Neither revolution, nor Shariah, just respect", underlining the composite and peaceful character of the protesters. Next one is a banner held by a couple of young protesters: "Would you like 3 kids like us?" This one refers to Erdoğan's repeated calls for families having at least three kids so that Turkey's fertility rate and youth population remain high. I will not delve into the Nazi undertones in this stance. But don't you like how the banner not only makes fun of Erdoğan's stance but also underlines the protest movement's main point?: There are different life styles in Turkey whether you like it or not. If you want minimum three kids per family, you will also end up with more protesters!

1 comment:

  1. This one is my fav.

    (You're not easy to put up with while sober, AKP.)