And the past month has provided ample opportunity for protest. With the end of communism being a century overdue and Israel’s continued existence, Turks hardly have to try hard to find a reason to step outside with a cardboard sign.
Mob anger combines two popular forms of Turkish expression : loud sociability and scaring anyone who disagrees. Protests have been a staple of Turkish daily life, but it is important to give credit where credit is due, as protests have long been a part of European tradition as well.
No doubt people protested long before Europe existed, possibly over dinosaur rights, but it was Europeans who took it to a whole new level. The Spartacus riot of 1st century BC Italy saw over 100,000 people slaughter legion after legion and France as a whole expressed disapproval of both royals and cake during their revolution in 1789, setting the standard for yelling-until-people-change pretty high.
Turks are able to combine both a Middle Easterner’s ability to get mad at everything with a European’s ability to cause serious damage, and so the past month has witnessed enough passion and organization to not only burn Israeli flags and throw shoes at IMF chiefs, but also smash bank windows, nationalist lynch attempts at communists and communists hanging placards from Burger Kings.
But while Europeans still dabble in violent protest, setting hotels on fire to scare NATO, many have lost the “more bloodshed” mentality and adopted a more peaceful method of active resistance. Icelanders now leave potatoes on parliament steps, the French wave bananas, Brits toss flour on ministers and milk is dumped on the ground as if it was a protest-flyer. What was once a symbol of unrestrained rage now seems a celebration of agricultural subsidies.
But as Europe evolves and shuns blood for groceries, changing the game along the way (another European tradition), Turkish students’egging of the Israeli Ambassador yesterday is a testament to how committed the country is to European Union membership.