Is it safe to come to Turkey?

Is it safe to come to Turkey?A few weeks ago I posted a story about Taksim, urging readers to explore the streets leading off Istiklal Caddesi where they could discover Istanbul’s rich cultural history. This is the same Istiklal Street where on Saturday the 19th of March, a suicide bomber detonated their load, killing five people and injuring thirty six others. This came just a week after a bomb went off in Ankara, killing thirty seven and injuring one hundred and twenty five. Both cities have suffered from several bomb attacks in the last few months, and now as then, the question on everyone’s lips is “Is it safe to come to Turkey?”

A lot of people in the blogging and travel communities wrote posts immediately after each of the bombings, expressing sorrow and dismay at these tragic and senseless losses of life. Each time I scoured the news in English and Turkish, read online debates and talked to friends about it. I chose not to write a blog post in answer to the question “Is it safe to come to Turkey?” It seemed both too big and too personal a question to answer.

What finally prompted me to write an answer was a private Facebook message I received from a women who admires my writing. She had a reservation to come to Istanbul the week after the bombing, and wanted my advice on whether it was safe or not. This isn’t her first visit here, so she knows the lay out of the city, how crowded the streets can be, and that comparing security in Turkey with that on offer in other countries is pointless. After all, national security forces didn’t stop the recent attacks in Paris, Jakarta, Lebanon, Brussels, Iskanderiyah and now Lahore.

One answer to the question “Is it safe to come to Turkey?” would be to remind her she could get hit by a bus tomorrow, so why worry? Given the seriousness of the question this answer is so trite as to be almost meaningless. In the bus scenario, one has the choice to look both ways before crossing. A bombing doesn’t give you that option. The flip side of this answer is to say it’s far too dangerous so you shouldn’t come. Yet I can’t agree this is the best answer because my safe might be your dangerous and my comfort levels your risk-taking.

So, in answer to the question “Is it safe to come to Turkey?” I will reiterate what I said to the woman on Facebook. I can’t really say either way if you should come because only you know how you feel. You should check what your government says and make a decision that way. If you do come to Istanbul, make sure you have registered to receive warnings so you know which places to avoid, and how to keep safe should something happen. I’d feel irresponsible suggesting anything less, but felt I hadn’t been that much help. I was touched and pleased when she got back to me and thanked me for my kindness. She’d considered all the possibilities and made up her mind to come as planned. However she was aware she needed to be able to suddenly alter her plans should any unforeseen dangers arise. Maybe it’s not the definitive answer people are looking for, but it’s pretty good advice.

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About Goreme1990

I’m Lisa Morrow, the person behind I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up a leafy middle class North Shore suburb. After finishing high school I went to Sydney University but failed to find my niche. After working as a public servant, cleaner, sales assistant, waitress, bar maid and car counter, I went overseas. Once there I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. My three months stay in the small central Anatolian village of Göreme changed my life. On my return to Australia I earned a BA Honours Degree in Sociology from Macquarie University. An academic career beckoned but the call to travel was louder. After several false starts I moved to Turkey and lived there for ten years. In 2017 I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, but continue to travel regularly to Istanbul. In addition to my blog I've written a travel narrative memoir called "Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul" and two collections of essays, "Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City" and "Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries". I have a regular segment on San Francisco Turkish radio and in early 2017 I released an audio walking tour called "Stepping back through Chalcedon: Kadikoy Walk", through VoiceMap. In addition I write for various international and Australian magazines and websites, as well as for this blog. A full list of my published articles, with links, can be found on the Writing on Turkey and Writing Beyond Turkey pages.
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One Response to Is it safe to come to Turkey?

  1. Tarina says:

    Hi I am an Indian living here in Turkey and I am constantly asked the same question. My answer always is, there is no place in the world one can feel completely safe today so Turkey is as safe or unsafe as London, Paris, Mumbai or New York. But living here myself I often question my own safety in a country where the political situation is so unstable.

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