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Extreme Capitalism Comes Home

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They say that you can’t go home again. They say it as if the concept that is “home” disappears the moment you cross that county line (or state line or city line). Before the last few days, I never believed this could be true. Home is in your heart right? It is a place where emotions are entwined with memories and experiences connected to space…right? In short, things that cannot be fabricated or replaced; these are things that cannot be replicated. The concept of “Home” is made up of moments—taken out of time—that (partially) define who we, as human beings, are. Right? Well…unfortunately, today I learned that this isn’t always the case. In fact, “Home” can be stripped away, whisked out from under you like the tablecloth on a cartoon’s table. Unfortunately—unlike as is the case in the cartoon—the items on the table (of your life) do not just fall into place just as they were before. In fact…everything is replaced in a disjointed way. Sure the items are still there, they just aren’t there in the same way.

Like I did a few years ago, when I took a walking tour of Istanbul, I decided to take a walking tour of the seaside village in which I spent the summers of my childhood. Since I experienced many pivotal moments in my life in this village, the place has a special meaning for me. Sadly—through the eyes of a grown man—the place has, inevitably, changed. Not, I may add, for the better.

On my Sunday walk I realize that my first route is blocked. A new construction site has, somehow, been built over the road. As if building houses (valued at one million US Dollars each) over the land that—as a child—I had picked figs in necessitates building over a road (which was, I may add, resurfaced just three years ago). But apparently it does; it is always more profitable to destroy and rebuild, after all. As someone who has never understood business—the concept of selling things at a profit (or taking advantage of people) is foreign to me—I cannot understand the changes that surround my childhood home. So I walk on, through the middle of a construction site. The workers stare at me with strained eyes, their neon yellow construction vests almost blinding in the sunshine of an early summer day, in stark contrast to their dark sun-tanned faces. Their eyes tell a story: “I was sent here to build houses that I will never, ever, have the chance to live in.” I fill in the rest of the story: They came here from towns and villages in Eastern Turkey that are now under attack, part of the struggle between the Turkish state and Kurdish minority that has been ongoing since the founding of the republic (for more on this, readers can access this—somewhat hyperbolic—piece from the New York Times). But there is money to be made, and I am in no place to tell people that they should not feed their families, even if it feeds an extreme brand of capitalism that just cannot support itself for much longer.

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I continue my walk thinking about how the US dollar is now three times the value of the Turkish Lira; just a few years ago it was fluctuating between a (comparatively) healthy 1.5-1.7. How will people afford the housing? Credit? Mortgages? We…. all know how that turned out in the United States…and the Turkish economy can’t handle that type of shock, reeling as it is from the recent bombings and resulting loss in tourism revenue.

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=USD&to=TRY&view=5Y

Once in the main village I pass by what used to be a small market; one where small rotisserie chickens were sold and where we—as wayward teenagers—would buy beers for long summer nights spent on the beach talking about the future. The space now belongs to a company selling construction materials. Soon, I realize why the man’s market couldn’t compete in the larger, capital “M”, Market. Five national chains have moved into the neighborhood, all within—at most—a fifteen-minute walk of the closed market. It is basic economics—the national chain can sell at a lower price than the local corner store. It is sad. But it is also true, when the world is all about the bottom line.

I walk the familiar old streets out to the marina, where the white yachts of the rich are docked, floating idly in the blue expanse. One of the proprietors of a fish restaurant solicits a friend’s attention but I ignore him. I don’t have much of an appetite after what I’ve seen. And what I see next doesn’t make me feel any better.

On the return I come to the crest of a hill overlooking the new construction and I remember, at the end of the summer two years ago, watching bulldozers uproot the forest I had walked through as a child. Now, only two trees remain and it feels like a bad joke. The asphalt is covered in mud from an earlier shower and I see that even the crystal clear sea of my childhood is gone. The mud from the construction site is running off into the water; it is not a place I would like to swim and I wonder if the soon-to-be owners of these houses would agree. Pay one million dollars and not have roads or a beach? Not a good return on an investment but…who am I to say that? I’m just a guy that writes.

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Currently:

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Two Years Ago, with Half the Forest Already Uprooted:

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I finish my walk and head home, ready to do some more reading, but not before facing the visual assault of a brand new four story housing development being built behind my home. An ancient stone wall—built rock by rock by the hands of the farmer whose horses I used to feed carnations to as a child—has been demolished to make way for a concrete wall the color I would call “New England Winter Sky”. Who gave them the right to build a high rise in the middle of a small village? Well…the government did, of course. Without the consent of the state, nothing is possible in the modern world. And if all the state wants is to line its pockets then…anything goes. Its appalling and disgusting and it makes me want to know why greed exists in the world, yet I know the farmer—so many long years ago, had the same thoughts I have now when his land was encircled by development. May he rest in peace. I decide that, instead of reading, I’ll head down to the beach with a cold beer and watch the sunset. After all, the new development—despite its four stories—wont be able to bask in the sunset light like I can.

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The next day a friend and I come upon a small kitten in the village. It seems to have lost its mother and—certainly—does not know what to do now that it is all alone in the world. We play with it and feed it, watching it explore nature. The joy of rolling in the grass, the pain of a rose bush’s thorns; we quickly learn the pleasures and pains of life. I can’t help but wonder what it will do when all of the nature is swallowed up by human greed. Later, that same friend sends me a news story as I’m sitting at home: six people have been wounded and two killed in an assault at a night club in town after a disagreement between construction workers working on yet another new commercial development and employees of the club. I sigh and look out the window, thinking of the kitten. I wonder how it is doing. I think I might buy some cat food tomorrow morning. After all, we all need a little help in the world as we stomach the loss of our innocence.

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Author’s Note: The name of the place in question has been purposefully left out since this type of development can—and does—happen anywhere in the world, and indeed in any context. Industrial Football, for instance, is the manifestation of this phenomenon in sports as stadiums slowly disappear. Thank you for reading.

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What to do in Atlanta? My Top Three Attractions in Atlanta

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I recently took a short trip to Atlanta, Georgia and—since I enjoy travel—I have decided to provide you with the three attractions I found most interesting in the United States’ ninth-largest metropolitan area. The order is in the order that I visited in; it is not an order of preference. Interestingly, most of the development in Atlanta started as a result of the 1996 Olympic games, one rare instance where hosting a major international sporting event actually had a positive effect on the city (what with the current traffic problems, however, I am not sure many locals would agree).

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  1. The Beginning: The World of Coca-Cola

Admission: 16 US Dollars (Plus Tax)

Time Spent: 30-60 minutes

 Opened in 2007 in its location near the Centennial Olympic Park (a continuation of the original museum, which opened in 1990), the World of Coca-Cola is admittedly an odd attraction. The first question I am asked, upon entering, is “what will you have to drink?” I resist the urge to ask for a Pepsi and go for a Coca-Cola Classic, served in an aluminum bottle. I am immediately struck by the almost cultish-aspect of the tour guides. They seem a little bit too upbeat. Indeed, when our group doesn’t give an enthusiastic enough cheer to one of our guide’s questions he notes that “we need to drink more Coca-Cola”. I am barely even able to stomach one bottle and shudder at the thought. After being lectured about Coca-Cola for fifteen minutes in a room filled wall to wall with Coca-Cola memorabilia (“the loft”), we are then ushered into a movie theater. Here are told not to take any video recordings and instead let Coca-Cola work its advertising magic on us before we are released to explore the rest of the museum alone.

The film’s effect is, I will learn later, similar to drinking too much Coca-Cola. That is to say, nauseating. It opens with a quote from the Italian writer and poet Cesare Pavese: “We do not remember days, we remember moments”. We are then subjected—as a group—to a six minute and something second advertisement for Coca-Cola set to Imagine Dragons’ On Top of the World. The group’s video—a spoof of the moon landing hoax—would have been more amusing than the images Coca-Cola provided for us; those of people “enjoying life”, for lack of a better term enjoying activities such as sky diving, surfing, and hanging out.

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For me the connection of emotion and memory to consumption is, honestly, disgusting. One would think that in order to relax and enjoy life all we need to do is…drink a Coke! The sentiments the video aims to elicit are as fake as the drink being advertised, but—somehow and some way—it works. Once released from the theater I see just how successful this connection truly is; the connection of the consumption of a soft drink to an individual’s emotional state (and even to the individual’s relationship with the nation-state, surprisingly).

The exhibits detailing the history of Coca-Cola tell the story not only of a soft drink, but of a country as well. We learn that every single U.S. state had a Coca-Cola bottling plant; effectively the country was united through the production—and consumption—of a soft drink. Later, in a second exhibit, we see the international reach of Coca-Cola; signs written in dozens of languages are intelligible only due to their color and font. The soft power of the United States (to borrow Joseph Nye’s term) was solidified through American cultural hegemony; within that framework Coca-Cola was but one tool—but a highly successful one at that. One exhibit even shows the subliminal effect of Coca-Cola advertisements on urban spaces: Post-cards of various 1950s cityscapes are shown and it is clear that, in every picture, the Coca-Cola sign is displayed prominently. My mind goes back to late 1980s Turkey when, as a child, we would spend one night at my late grandmother’s apartment in Izmir, Turkey, at the beginning of each summer. The giant Coca-Cola mural, painted on the façade of an apartment block nearby, was one of my first coherent memories of Turkey as a child. I decide to head to the part of the museum where the international is the focus: the tasting section.

I first heard of the tasting section in college. I expected Coca-Cola Classics from different countries to be on offer (since the drink tastes different depending on the country). Unfortunately, this was not the case. Instead, they offered a number of drinks produced by the Coca-Cola company internationally (such as Dasani water, Fanta, and Sprite). They claimed the number is more than 100 but I did not count as many. I then embarked on a whirlwind tour of the world (as shown by Coca-Cola), sampling sugared soft drinks dispensed from five taps representing Coke products sold on each continent. I filled my sampling cup while trying to dodge the children on sugar highs—I suppose the World of Coca-Cola is similar to Las Vegas for nine year olds: All the rules of “no soft drinks” and “no sodas” don’t apply for a few (literally) sweet hours. The result was—predictably—a headache and a stomach ache. But before the sugar kicked in and made me light in the head, I was able to make a few useful observations: Djibouti’s mint rendition of Coca-Cola is delicious (at least to me, the face of another guest after sampling this particular soda was contorted into an obvious show of revulsion). Uganda’s fruit punch-esque Fanta was decent—but not for those sensitive to sugar. Georgia (of Stalin, not peace, fame) had a decent Iced Tea, while I contemplated filling my aluminum bottle with Sweden’s Lingonberry soda to take home. The biggest loser was, undoubtedly, Italy’s Beverly. Its bitter taste—although pleasing to a fellow guest visiting from Connecticut, with whom I debated the soda’s medicinal taste—is almost like an inside joke. In fact the soda, originally to be a non-alcoholic aperitif, was discontinued by Coca-Cola in 2009 but is still holding its place at the World of Coca-Cola. Perhaps because so many people bash it.

Not For the Faint of Heart: Consuming Coca-Cola with Kids on Sugar Highs

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In the end I walked out of the World of Coca-Cola with a souvenir eight ounce bottle of Coca-Cola Classic, a light head, and a stomach ache. And—most likely—the resolve to never drink another Coca-Cola in my next thirty years. After all, it is never too late to make life resolutions.

  1. Interlude: Georgia Aquarium

Admission: 39.95 US Dollars (Plus Tax)

Time Spent: 30-60 minutes

The Atlanta Aquarium is apparently one of the the largest aquariums in the world. Since I arrive in the late afternoon, near closing time, upon entry I am told that I will not be able to see all of the exhibits and that I should focus on the “best exhibits”. Indeed, the “Ocean Voyager” is amazing and worth a visit, but I note that—honestly—you don’t need that much time to take in the Atlanta Aquarium’s exhibits. In fact, arriving late is a bonus at this attraction; I will gladly take less time for the chance to experience the exhibits free of crowds. Since I visited near closing time I had the exhibits virtually to myself: the school children were being herded out, while the families were readying themselves for dinner. It seemed that the only visitors left were those knowledgeable and older.

The peaceful setting of the aquarium is miles from the chaos of the World of Coca-Cola; the privilege of standing alone in a room facing a wall of glass looking into the water leaves me breathless. Fish—big and small, multicolored and monochromatic—live in perfect harmony, bringing order to the seeming chaos of the undersea world. For a moment it makes me reflect on humanity—we would eat one another alive, living in captivity (as we if we don’t already while living freely, but that is for a different discussion).

The first two exhibits, focusing on fish of all shapes and sizes, are the best. The more specific exhibits—containing, among other things, plankton, sea horses, star fish, and reptiles—are interesting but cannot approach the stunning experience of, literally, walking underneath the ocean. You don’t need a full day to see the Atlanta Aquarium, and I would recommend coming later in the day so as to get the exhibits more or less to yourself. Personally, I do not think I could have appreciated the majesty of the aquarium if I had been in a crowd. As is the case with many tourist sights in the world, it is sometimes best to arrive late in the day.

  1. The End: Georgia Guidestones

Admission: 0 US Dollars–Free

Time Spent: 10-20 Minutes

This is, perhaps, one of the more interesting road-side landmarks in the United States that I have visited, even after having visited the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike. The Guidestones are located in one of the few places left in the modern world that can be classified as “the middle of nowhere”. A little less than an hour from Athens and two hours from Atlanta, down the kind of two lane highway that reminds me of carefree summer days, the Guidestones are located on the side of Georgia Highway 77 in a rural area of Elberton County.

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Many outlets, including the BBC and Wired, have done a piece on the monument and each interprets them differently. The BBC’s piece offers a neutral overview:

“It was this gargantuan granite deposit [in the area] that attracted a well-dressed man under the pseudonym of RC Christian to Elberton in June 1979. He approached the Elberton Granite Finishing Corporation’s President Joe H Fendley Sr about the potential cost of building a monument of substantial size, explaining that he represented a small group of anonymous Americans foreign to Georgia who had been working on a 20-year-long project as a message for future generations. Fendley promptly put him in touch with his banker, Wyatt C Martin, who was soon chosen as the intermediary for the project. Both men were sworn to secrecy.

On 22 March 1980, the Georgia Guidestones – four giant rough-edged stones encircling a centre slab with a capstone balancing on top – weighing 119 tons, were revealed to a crowd of about 100 people. One crowd member, a local pastor, immediately professed his belief that the stones were built for cult and devil worship because of its similar appearance to Stonehenge. On each side of the capstone, engraved in four ancient languages, were the words: “Let these be guidestones to an Age of Reason.” And written in eight languages – English, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Classical Hebrew, Swahili, Hindi and Spanish – were cryptic instructions for rebuilding society post Doomsday.”

A PDF of a book written by the Elberton Granite Finishing Corporation offers the creators’ point of view, while Wired’s piece offers very useful insight into the days while the monument was being created, calling it an “American Stonehenge”. Having been to the “real” Stonehenge I can’t see much of a similarity—the video surveillance itself is off-putting—and the message written on the stones is, indeed, eerie.

On each of the four slabs—reaching almost twenty feet in height—is a message consisting of ten short statements written in the aforementioned eight world languages (Wired’s diagram is below, courtesy of http://www.wired.com/2009/04/ff-guidestones/) :

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  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
  2. Guide reproduction wisely – improving fitness and diversity.
  3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
  4. Rule passion – faith – tradition – and all things with tempered reason.
  5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
  7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
  9. Prize truth – beauty – love – seeking harmony with the infinite.
  10. Be not a cancer on the Earth – Leave room for nature – Leave room for nature.

 

Some view this as a message for rebuilding human society in a post-apocalyptic world; others view this as something much more sinister—the ten commandments of the antichrist. There is undeniably something sinister to the site due to its perfectly researched placement; it is a clock, calendar, and compass as well as a “guide” (see above). Others, such as this piece, see the guide stones as a message calling for a New World Order engineered by a secret society.

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Honestly, I have no opinion as to what these stones mean. The idea of a technocratic world order—uniting the world with “one world language” and “ruling passion and faith…with tempered reason”—sound eerily similar to the global capitalism we all witness where individualism is suppressed. After all, expressing opinions can be harmful to the “brand” in business—blandness is rewarded. Yet the idea of prizing “truth”, “beauty”, and “love” while “leaving room for nature” sound like classic humanist ideas that have been espoused in many cultures for years. The message is a strange amalgamation of fascism with liberalism; some of it useful and some of it dangerous; the Malthusian undertones in the first “commandment” are typically picked up on as the most frightening since the rising world population means diminishing wealth—and health—for everyone. Regardless of one’s views on the stones, they are certainly worth a visit. After seeing how the multi-national corporation Coca-Cola appropriates human emotion to sell an unhealthy drink—and after seeing how fish, both large and small, can live in perfect harmony while human beings clearly cannot—a visit to the Georgia Guidestones can certainly lead to a philosophical afternoon.

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Farewell to Boleyn Ground/Upton Park: Community and Modern Football

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I will preface this with an admission: I am not a “fan” of any team in the English Premier League, although I do have sympathies for certain teams. Among those teams is West Ham United, a team I saw play two falls ago on Green Street. As someone who appreciates fan culture, I enjoy the ritual of “bubbles” at Boleyn Ground/Upton Park. After the final match at the ground, with West Ham pulling out a 3-2 victory over Manchester United, I am left thinking “what next?”.

The pageantry of the celebration was amazing and did justice to the end of an era. But I cant help but realize that this end of an era is yet another manifestation of the modern football that many fans are speaking out against.

Slaven Bilic, the Croatian coach of West Ham United for whom I have great respect after his year in Istanbul with Turkish side Besiktas, made his own views clear on the move to the Olympic Stadium. He noted that “The Upton Park stadium was a first home. No matter where you move after that – if you move to a fancy apartment, a big house or to a mansion – your favourite one is always the first. You are losing something because it is impossible to make the Olympic Stadium a fortress”. His analogy is apt—even if the new surroundings will be posher, they cannot replace the memories (and atmosphere) of “home”. His assertion (referring to Arsenal’s ground change) that Highbury felt dangerous, while Emirates is for selfies, is also spot-on—new grounds have become tourist destinations.

Of course, not everyone agrees with me. Dave Kidd of the Daily Mirror seems glad to be rid of Boleyn Ground/Upton Park, where the author first “witnessed serious violence, hardcore racism, drug-taking, frightening levels of crushing and the warm feeling of having your leg urinated upon by a man who was never going to travel across a sea of humanity to the toilets at the sides of the North Bank.” While it is hyperbolic, I’m sure that all of the incidents mentioned have, indeed, happened inside the ground. But…then again…in what old ground have such things not happened? I still remember my first baseball game at the Boston Red Sox’s iconic Fenway Park; a drunk man vomited at my mother’s feet and the language was not something I should have heard at that age. That was, needless to say, the last Red Sox game for my mother. But that was the 1990s; since then rising ticket prices have been the preferred way to keep undesirable elements out of the stadium—without destroying it and building a new ground. While the pre-match violence was unfortunate, it is hard to believe that the move to a new stadium will stamp out this kind of behavior either. To blame the ground on the activities of patrons seems wrong to me, and I cannot agree fully with Mr. Kidd’s claims that the Boleyn Ground/Upton Park “should not be mourned” and that it is “not worth idealizing”. It is fan mentality—not a stadium—that incites violence.

It is not just for the fans that I lament. The effect of the ground’s closure is felt even harder by the small businesses that make a living on the game-day experience of football fans, the establishments that make game-days around the world. The BBC did a great piece on the future of Upton Park (the neighborhood), detailing the local issues. The owner of one pub estimated that he would lose two thirds of his income—almost 500,000 Pounds—while a restaurant owner claimed that a quarter of his earnings come from West Ham fans. The Mayor of Newham is more optimistic, noting that the families moving into the 800 new flats being built in place of the stadium will contribute to the local economy and that “only a few businesses” set up to cater to fans will suffer. While this may be true, it is certainly the end of an era. As the BBC notes, fans will no longer crowd the Upton Park tube station (as even I have).

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/36170590#orb-footer

As stadiums move—often in the name of money—from their traditional locations within the community to outside of the community, a piece of the game is lost. As this happens, it is important to remember that it is not just the fans that are affected. There are many others—from small-business owners to part time programme sellers—that feel this change not just emotionally, but financially as well. The old style football supporter—who was tied to the team because, perhaps, they could take in a match from their flat—is on the way out as well. For me, the disassociation of sport from place is what really hurts; sport adds meaning to geography. Unfortunately, in the world of modern/industrial football, it seems like money is the only thing that matters.

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Images Courtesy Of: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3583769/UPTON-PARK-PICTURE-SPECIAL-West-Ham-bid-farewell-Boleyn-Ground-style-Winston-Reid-scores-winner-dent-Manchester-United-s-Champions-League-hopes-emotional-night.html

Sports and Society: Religious and Ethnic Identities Come to the Fore in Turkish Stadiums

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In the past couple of weeks Turkish stadiums have become the venue of choice for the airing of political views. The tensions of the final weeks of the football season have only served to heighten tensions already existing in both sport and society. What is most interesting, however, that in the past weeks two groups within Turkish society—seemingly at odds with one another—have both been targeted in stadiums: Kurds and secular Turks. In the context of the stadium it is possible to see that these groups may have more in common than outside observers may initially believe.

On 17 April 2016, Altay, from Western Turkey’s liberal port city of Izmir that sees itself as representing the progressive idealism of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, faced Erzurum Büyükşehir Belediyespor in eastern Turkey in a third tier soccer match. After the first half, which ended 1-1, the Altay team claims that their players were attacked on the way to the locker rooms; allegedly one man brandished a knife. Before the match, fans in Erzurum chanted “Gavur Izmir”, or “Infidel Izmir” the (not-so-flattering) nickname of Turkey’s most cosmopolitan city, the old Smyrna. One Altay administrator claimed they feared for their lives. A local newspaper from Erzurum responded to these claims, noting all of the heroic acts that Erzurumians have done over the course of Turkish history including taking Greek soldiers hostage after the Greek invasion of Izmir. The local paper, Yeni Akit, also claims that the Izmir team’s fans called those in Erzurum “terrorists” and demanded an apology from Turkish football pundits who disparaged the city for the “infidel” chants. We may never know what truly happened in the stadium but it points to an important ideological division within Turkey that is not insignificant, one that I will return to in a moment.

One week later, on 24 April, 2016, MKE Ankaragücü faced the Kurdish side Amedspor in the Turkish capital in another third tier soccer match. After Amedspor scored to go up 2-1 in the 85th minute, some of the Kurdish team’s executives celebrated, prompting a vicious attack by Ankaragücü’s executives that was caught on video. In the end injuries ranged from broken noses to concussions and several people–including the chairman of the Ankara team—were taken in for questioning by police. The Ankaragücü team, in their second response to the violence, note that when their team played in Diyarbakir their fans were stoned and had to witness the whistling down of the Turkish national anthem; they further note that the Amedspor executives broke an unspoken rule. Celebrating like a fan in the executive seats is unacceptable.

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Image Courtesy of: http://www.aljazeera.com.tr/haber/amedspor-yoneticilerine-saldiri-kamerada

While we will never know the full details of either of these incidents because we can only hear versions of the events from either side, it shows that the divisions within society are being replicated—and amplified—in the stadium.

On Tuesday, 26 April 2016, the issue of religion again came to the fore as Turkey’s Speaker of Parliament, Ismail Kahraman, said Turkey needed a religious constitution. This provoked small scale protests from many who fear the country’s long-standing secularism is under threat. The response, once again, came from the stands. On 30 April, 2016, Besiktas fans in the brand new Vodafone Arena chanted “Turkey is secular and will remain secular” during their match with Kayserispor, while fans of Fenerbahçe echoed the same sentiments during their match that weekend.

As one local commentator noted, this kind of tension—often culminating in violence—has been present in Turkish football for the past thirty-five years. Just in the last month there have been incidents at major matches in Karabük and Trabzon, where a fan assaulted the referee. Smaller matches have also been affected; Police had to fire warning shots to disperse fans at an amateur match.

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In Karabuk. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.ntv.com.tr/galeri/spor/karabukte-saha-karisti,_E7O2BsgHk-PTv6L-r6EQg/w9WVT_8XlUKmpWg6YKDHkA?_sgm_campaign=scn_b80478c001c4e000&_sgm_source=d8ce4efc-201b-4f1e-8f4e-fe8bfabe8442&_sgm_action=click

What is different in the present, however, is that there is also violence—as we saw in Erzurum and Ankara—that is not just wanton aggression precipitated by fan anger at referees or at one another. Instead, we see violence with political undertones, based instead on religious and ethnic identities. More importantly, we see that two of the groups that have become victims of this violence—those perceived to be secular and those who are Kurdish—have for many years been on opposite sides of the Turkish political world; the divide between western and eastern Turkey manifested itself with secular Turks from “modern” western Turkey disdaining Kurds from “backward” eastern Turkey. The current marginalization of both groups within Turkish society, however, also offers a unique opportunity for them to come together in ways that were not possible in the past.