Arango finds that both devout Muslims and secularists are unhappy with the direction of events.
“Everything is being Arabized,” said Karaca Borar, who owns an antiques shop on one of the crooked, cobbled streets in European Istanbul. . . .But another long-time resident of the city frets about secularism:
He said he was tired of hearing the Arabic greeting of “salaam aleikum” on the streets, and tired of so many Syrians in general. (It is a widely shared sentiment: When Mr. Erdogan recently said Turkey should offer citizenship to Syrians, a right-wing secular newspaper called Syrians “vermin” in a front-page headline.)
Asked about the mood of the city, which before the coup attempt had faced several devastating terrorist attacks for which the Islamic State was blamed, Mr. Borar said, “Terrible, terrible, terrible.” . . .
He continued: “We were the only secular, decent country in a bad region. Now, we are like one of those Arab states.”
Mr. Bardok said he quit drinking in 1994 when he turned to religion, and blamed secular Turks for the country’s polarization because they are “arrogant and disrespectful.”Recent times in the U.S. have sensitized me to stories about places where both traditionalists and modernizers think the tide is going against them. I suppose what happens is that strongly ideological people of any sort associate bad things with their enemies, so when things go badly (and a lot is going badly in Turkey) they naturally blame those enemies whether they are responsible or not.
Now that they are moving in to his neighborhood, he is worried that “in five to 10 years this place is going to turn into Amsterdam.”