Racist-Islamophobia or Ignorance: an Encounter in Turkiye

It was raining ice on the third
eve of Christmas in Istanbul. Vapor that took us from Eminonu harbored in the
infamous crowd of Uskudar. Legs were chasing each other, so did ours. I was
with my 11 year old daughter at the time. Living in a classical religious dorm
in Fatih that took two hours of travel from home has left our weekend meeting
nothing but burst of talks, galloping between one story and the other. We
praised how well we wore our hijab too.
It did not stop until in two
meters away on our left, a fat grey hair man in his 50s stumbled on his feet
and his cigarette. Our eyes met abruptly. Before I was able to check whether he
was fine, words tattered from his disappointed face. “You should have said,
excuse me, hah?!”, said he, half screaming at me and my daughter. The rain was
pouring harder and the ice fell through my winter coat. My nerve was in place
except for he continued, “be civilized!.” I was mad. I felt wronged. My
daughter left in daze. I replied with tons of other words that sunk into the
screams of the pouring rain. We were wet and upset.

I could not digest what was
happening. What did we do wrong? He was on his own, stumbled, without extra
cause. Was he mentally well?. I would leave it to that.  
I am not at ease. This is not the
first time I, an Indonesian lady with brown skin and ‘unusual’ face flow have
been experiencing rude behavior of Turkish men. I could not imagine how these
rude men behave to their women.
It is of course not less
important than the fact that there is something wrong with Turkish people
understanding of being civilized. Being civilized in Turkey subtly means not
the Muslims. Let alone the Muslimah women who were frequently portrayed in the
media as home care taker or in weaker position.
While still digesting what this
is, unless racism, a display of conversation on race science between a young
black man and a scientist who is a white man, broadcasted decades ago on
European mainstream TV channel came to my mind. The young man was hit by the
latter’s statement who believed that white men bear superior genes.
This is an old popular culture
exists in Turkey. It is kind of silly to learn that indeed people who were
raised during Turkey revolutionary period believe that supreme intellectuality
is, one of the factors, lies on biological destiny; Caucasian eyes, colour hair,
white skin, well-stood posture and agile tongue. This is a hundred year old
myth, grounded in so called scientific findings, produced to milk colonial
empires.   Unfortunately, the times seem to return. Race
science has been taking over discussion among the millennials in the world.



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