Gezi Park: The Banner That Moved Me Most


The text of the banner:

Hey, Tayyip!
Be human, show respect and be respected,
Turn your face and heart to God and your people,
Show respect to the souls of our ancestors: Turks, Kurds, Armenians, and Jews,
With a single heart they gave their blood for our unmatched homeland.
We know our constitutional rights.
Together, using Article14 of the constitution,
We will burn out your light bulb (the logo of the ruling AK Party).

(tr. Serhat Güven)

This banner moved me, and not only because I am active in one of the communities it mentions.  As a native New Yorker and the product of an immigrant world, I know the culture of inter-communal respect, public participation, and inclusive politics that commitment to diversity can engender.  And, as someone who, over the years, has also lived and worked in self-proclaimed mono-ethnic, mono-linguistic, and mono-religious countries that, even up to the final years of the 20th-century, marginalized, expelled, and murdered Gypsies, Muslims, and Jews, I know that acknowledgement of the legitimacy of diversity can comprise a giant step towards enduring democracy.  I do not know which group raised this banner and wrote its appeal to Turkey’s “Leader,”  but, whoever they are,  I do thank them respectfully.

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