I am a Turkish mom, who is raising my 3 kids in the United States of America during the school season and in TURKEY for the summers. My husband and I made the conscious decision to raise our kids immersed in both of our cultures. Growing up in the democratic and secular country that Ataturk founded, I was nurtured in a climate of peace and freedom. I attended college in Switzerland and then in the United States, and I pride myself in being an independent and strong woman.
Ataturk’s western leaning values and teachings of acceptance, tolerance, honesty, hard work, and respect, still guide me today while I live with my American husband, and raise our kids.
We love taking our kids to Istanbul every summer. We have extended family and friends who welcome us. My oldest son swims in the Cross Continent Swim Meet each year. Where else in the world can one be in Asia and Europe within minutes? The kids spend the summers playing with their second and third cousins, and making new friends. We are exposing our kids not only to their own culture but also to others by traveling to historic sights, living world history, and showing them how all different religions, and ethnicities live in harmony in the same country. Although the religion of the population in Turkey is predominantly Muslim, it’s government is secular, and Turkey is a home for all religions and ethnic backgrounds. Everyone is free to practice what he or she believes. Well I should say everyone WAS free…
As I am sure most of you are aware by now, what started as a peaceful “save the tree” protest last week, has turned into a Revolution. Turkey elected a prime minister more than a decade ago, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has over the years leaned increasingly towards autocracy . He wants to build malls over parks, as a way to fill his pockets, demolish art centers and theaters, and build mosques to force his brand of conservative religion down everyone’s throat. He has sent his forces in to use tear gas, beat, throw illegal chemical compounds, and to imprison others whom he regards as threats to his Islamic régime. As the laws of the land do not seem to apply anymore in the country, I fear for my own children’s future, my niece who is in Istanbul, my family, my friends, my fellow citizens safety, and then I fear for the whole world’s safety. The new growing Turkey that has brought together worlds of religion, cultures and worldly growth is suddenly showing inordinate levels of intolerance.
I am a Turkish American mom who wants raise her kids in a world with peace, love, and tolerance in harmony. The world needs to know what is going on in Turkey right now, and to know that this is not the country that the Turkish people are used to, and apparently, based on the uprisings going on now, it is not the way they wish to live. It is no longer just about saving trees or the park, but about regaining democratic human rights.
This is an original guest post written for World Moms Blog by Ebru who grew up in Istanbul, Turkey, and now splits her time between Istanbul and the United States of America.
Have you been following the story of the uprising in Turkey?
Thank you for sharing this. No, before I read your post I had no idea at all about what was happening in Turkey. 🙁
I’m very sad about what is happening, and will add my prayers to those of many (I’m sure) for a peaceful resolution
Many years ago, after college graduation, I headed off on a year trip to find my way in the world. I had the good fortune of spending several weeks in Turkey, landing in Bodrum and then traveling to wonderful places like Fethiye, Izmir, Pamukkale and of course, Istanbul. It pains me to read your words of change, of tyranny taking over a beautiful country of peace loving people … the rest of the world needs to sit up and take notice.
Bravo Ebru… I have always admired your wisdom, patience and tolerance in educating and bringing up your children who grew up with two different cultures and religion in USA , and they have turned out to be real gentlemen and a lady with true sense of their roots in Turkey.
Hope to see you again in İstanbul this summer…!
Lots of hugs and kisses,
I, too, dream of a world where everyone has the freedom to worship or not worship as they wish peacefully. Thank you for sharing this post with the World Moms Blog community from a mother’s perspective of the current events in Turkey.
It breaks my heart to hear what is happening in Turkey now. I too have family living in Istanbul and worry for their safety. Thank you for posting this and for letting people know what is really happening.
Thank you so much for sharing Ebru! I too, like your children, am half Turkish and have spent many wonderful vacations in Istanbul visiting family and friends. The last time I was there was about 10 or 12 years ago, just when it started getting hard for the Jews. I was walking through the city, with a large group of my family and we saw a group of young men burning the American and Israeli flags. Up until that point I had always felt very comfortable speaking any of the 3 languages that i speak, English, French and Hebrew. From that moment on, my family switched to mostly French, Turkish and Spanish (we are a multilingual family), since we feared for our safety. Shortly after that trip there was an attack on 2 synagogues in the city. Much of my family started to leave Istanbul after that, some moving to Israel and others to the US. It used to be a city where the Jewish and Muslims people lived side by side in harmony, working, living, and playing together. It is so sad to see, it really is such a wonderful country, and holds a special place in my heart. I hope this will pass, and one day, I will be able to bring my children to share the beautiful heritage of Ataturk.
The Turkey story is much in the news here (I live in Abu Dhabi), and I have a friend who lives in Istanbul now (she’s Turkish & just moved back to Istanbul earlier this spring), so her facebook page has me mesmerized. It seems to me that what’s happening there is yet another instance of a governance system over-reaching itself. It’s awful – and somehow all the more awful because the trigger for the public anger was something so inherently peaceful: a park!
Thanks for this post–
Thank you for sharing your perspective. I will be sharing this post, as I don’t believe people realize what is going on in Turkey (myself included!). I, too, dream of that peaceful world for our children. I’m so glad we have the opportunity to hear voices like yours in times like this.
Ebru I am so happy that you shared this post, and your point of view as a Turkish mom on what is happening in Turkey right now. Thank You!
My husband and I are still hoping that we will be able to fulfill our plans to visit Turkey next month…it is a lifelong dream of mine. I can only hope that the best sentiments of peace and tolerance win out in this situation and that this resolves itself in a way that reestablishes the country as you remember it. My best wishes to your whole family at what I am sure is a tough time.
How sad for you and your family. ((Hugs))
Oh Ebru, how awful!
I spent some time in Turkey when I was travelling and adored it, I can;t stand to think of all the good Ataturk did being undone.
As a Kiwi, there is a very special place in my heart for the Turkish people. I hope this course of action can be changed and quickly.
What a beautiful post! I saw the news coverage and it was really sad. Hope things will get better there soon and peace will return.
A friend of mine lived for years in Turkey, she loved it there. While I think that it is sad that Turkey has come to this, I think it speaks volumes about the Turkish people. How many countries have let a “democracy” slowly errode into a dictatorship? Too many. Now here is Turkey saying “No, this is wrong, this isn’t what we want” and trying to stop it. I hope they get what they want quickly and peacefully, but I admire them for fighting for it.
I just recently returned from a trip to Turkey and I was completely in love – the sights, the food – it was all magnificent, but the best part was the people! I was so amazed and awed by their kindness and joy. It is truly like nowhere else I’ve ever been. It breaks my heart to see this happening now and I’m sure it is very scary to be watching it from afar. I hope your family stays safe and that the voice of the people is heard.
I’ve been following the news of the protests closely. Thanks for providing your perspective and for helping to raise awareness about what is happening right now in Turkey! Best wishes to you and your family.
what a load of crap – im an Australian Turkish mum of 3 raising my children to acknowledge both Aussie and Turkish cultures.
The only reason Turkey has come thus far with recognition as an emerging country with a rapid economic growth and investing in Environmental Sustainability and Energy Sector is because of their current government – Prime minister Erdogan.
Ataturk did do good and bad for the country in the past history, the people of Turkey needed another good leader to help its weak lira and infrastructure and country/people itself.
Besides the handful of protesters who have nothing else to do but waste valuable dollars in protesting against the much needed improvement to the community, building bridges, shopping centres and parks – there is no other additional danger a citizen or tourist faces in Turkey as they do in a country like Australia.
The park these time wasters were ‘protecting’ is a block of land that or “park” they call it is somewhere families stay aways as they dont want their children exposed to young lovers publicly displaying their desires for each other and young hoons ‘hangout’ drinking and swearing.
Turkey is a beautiful country to raise a family, so much so that we are moving from my home land Australia (where is i was born and a country regarded as a free and safe place) to live and raise my family in Turkey.
No one would visit ‘family’ in another country if they didnt believe it was safe enough for their children.
Turks need to accept history as the past and accept todays government as the current leader.