Istanbul, my adopted home – despite putsch, terrorism and repression
Istanbul exerts a unique appeal not only on tourists, as it is also the adopted home of the largest expat community in Turkey. Nonetheless, the repeated terrorist attacks, the failed putsch attempt, and the constant repression have unsettled many of the international residents on the Bosporus. Marian Brehmer offers a portrait of old and new Istanbulers from four continents
Since the failed putsch attempt of 15 July and the purges against Gulen supporters in Turkey, many who have chosen Istanbul as their adopted home have had to re-evaluate their relationship to the city bridging two continents. Even though the Facebook pages of expats are full of concerned comments this year, many have no intention of simply leaving Istanbul
"What still keeps you there anyway?" is a question often asked by friends of Hannah Alongi (22) from the USA in the wake of the putsch. On that night, she felt more scared than she had been her entire life. Despite this, Alongi, who works at an international kindergarten, wants to remain in Istanbul. "Here I meet interesting people every day. Just the fact that I live here makes me much more creative"
Marie Hartlieb (27) and Tugba Yalcinkaya (26), both of whom grew up in Germany, have been running the on-line magazine "MAVIBLAU" in Kadikoy since 2015. The magazine focuses on cultural exchange between Germans and Turks. "In our articles, we try to counter the current negative reporting about Turkey," says Hartlieb
The city district of Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul, with its lively art scene and vibrant nightlife, is a popular neighbourhood among foreigners. Nonetheless, in this year, the number of tourists and students on the streets of Istanbul have noticeably decreased
Mario de Bellis (30) produces radio broadcasts in Istanbul for the Italian media. After the terrorist attacks and putsch attempt, he was inundated with work as an independent journalist. Although he senses a growing paranoia on the part of the Turkish population, he does not want to leave the city. "I am inspired by the city's unique cultural mix. Istanbul remains dynamic and things are always moving here"
Mohammad and Darya Sabour (38 and 27), from Iran and Russia respectively, were married this year in Istanbul. The political climate during and since the putsch attempt remind Mohammad Sabour of his post-revolutionary childhood in Iran. "Even so, Istanbul is still a far more desirable place for us to live than either Russia or Iran," says the freelance translator
After an intercultural workshop in 2009, Ridwan Landasan (26) from the Philippines decided to pursue studies in Istanbul. "The city is an optimal place to take up residence, even after the putsch night," says Landasan. After earning a Masters Degree in International Relations at the Bilgi University, Landasan wants to pursue training in Manila to become a diplomat
Many educational institutions in Istanbul, such as the renowned Bogazici University, continue to attract students from around the world. However, most German universities have suspended their exchange programmes with Turkish universities this year due to security concerns
For the past two years, Huthaifa Busuulwa (24) from Uganda has regarded Istanbul as the ideal place to study. Busuulwa found out about a scholarship programme offered by the Turkish government from a poster at his university back home. "Turkey enjoys a good reputation in Uganda. And justifiably so, because it opened up many opportunities for me," says Busuulwa, who would like to work representing Uganda at the UN someday
Mahasti Kia (47) moved to Istanbul from Iran in 1987 to study graphic design. Since then, Kia hasn't left the city, and has changed along with it. "Istanbul is like an adventurous lover. Sometimes I fight with him, but as soon as I see the Bosporus from the ferry, I am in love once again." Kia runs an artistic atelier in Kadikoy, where she offers a pottery workshop