Join now
Log in Join

(non-?) bigoted shopkeepers, taxi drivers, markets (Istanbul)

This post may be a bit controversial, but I wanted to share something that happened to me tonight. I have lived in Turkey for 4 years and I am fluent in Turkish.

A taxi driver just told me (in Turkish), "Those French really got what they deserved, didn't they? There's nothing to be sad about." After which I immediately told him "I'm French and my family lives in Paris, so let me out right away. Do you want my infidel money?" to which he sarcastically said "no, have a great night!". After I ran to a side street, he started honking his horn at me.

The thing is, I have lived long enough in Turkey to know that a large proportion of the working class/uneducated people in Istanbul are very right-wing and conservative. It's not fair to generalize, but you can probably be sure that there is a 50% chance that the people (let's be honest, it's usually men) who drive your taxis or dolmuses, sell you tost or water from a bufe, or deliver your food think that Western culture is "wicked", that Europeans are "without honor", that Armenians are "liars and enemies", etc. I've heard all these things said to my face before, almost all of them unprompted. Because of economic realities, at least Protected content a month a person who thinks these things is probably providing a service to you, while thinking nasty things about you to themselves.

The other 50% of working class people may be very kind-hearted, kind, etc. I've met many kind barbers, taxi drivers, janitors, etc. In fact I'm a leftist so I feel very ashamed about myself for having such thoughts about the working class, but I'm also not native. In any case, I can't distinguish between the two halves- how can you from a 2 minute conversation?

I don't know how to avoid these types of people in everyday life. It just feels a bit ridiculous to be giving my money to a cab driver who told me, "Europeans are good people, if they would just become Muslim they could be saved", or more dangerously someone who would be willing to attack foreigners if the government gave them permission (google the Protected content Istanbul riots against Greek people).

So what can I do? I can not take taxis anymore, unless they are from Bitaxi or Uber. I guess dolmuses and minibuses are out of the question. I can only buy food from markets that sell alcohol. I can only eat at restaurants where I know the owner. What else can I do to make my own conscience and mental health relaxed? Does anyone else feel the same way or am I just crazy?

Would appreciate other people's views on this.

Istanbul Forum