Thursday, August 18, 2011

Consummate Citizens: Turks Defend Turf in London Riots

Thought I'd break the silence with my first post in way-too-long with this unusual piece on Turkish shopowners taking matters into their own hands during the London riots. 

Al-Jazeera reports a groundswell of local action against the looting and lawlessness currently plaguing London. With PM David Cameron pondering curfews and many in Europe wondering whether the unrest will spread to the Continent -- endemic of the same recession-related problems of unemployment and ever-tighter strains from austerity -- in the coming days. 

Interviewees expressed a surprising common theme of pro-Turkish sentiment, specifically concerning the question of the integration of Turkish-descended European citizens and, by extension, Turkey's accession into the European Union. The best bits of the Al-Jazeera piece are below.

"Our local shopkeeper refused to close. He said 'we are Turkish' as explanation," said one post. Another added: "Reports of heroic scenes on Dalston High Street. Turkish families lining the streets to oppose riots. What great Londoners."
Another, along similar lines, read: "Upper Dalston looks busier than a Saturday night with all the Turks on patrol! Thanks for Keeping Dalston safe!" followed by: "Who needs riot police when you’ve got Turkish shop owners."
One posting characterised the showdown between the Turkish restaurateurs and their masked adversaries as "baklavas versus balaclavas," while another summed up prevailing sentiments with "Say what you will about letting Turkey getting in the EU, they’re there when we need them."
Perhaps extrapolating the policing skills of London's Turks somewhat implausibly to the level of international diplomacy, one post mused: "If only Turkey can bring to Syria in the next few days what they've brought to Dalston and London in the last few."