Culture Refugees Religion Turkey

Lost without translation

29. December 2015

This year I did some things for the very first time in my life. E.g. today I bought some headscarves intended for Muslim ladies. I did this in İskenderun in the south of Turkey in a shop that is heavily related to Muslim and Ottoman culture. And no, I do not want to become a Muslim and a woman at the same time. This is a present for some of my multicultural friends. Subsequent to Christmas I guess I am allowed to give something non-Christian.

Looking back I could also say this was a day totally characterized by Islam. After buying those headscarves I took lots of pictures of a mosque in the city center of İskenderun, the Kaptan Paşa mosque. I don’t want to look for all those pictures, so just take this one from my Instagram account:

Regards from İskenderun.

Ein von @cpachter gepostetes Foto am

Why was I so fascinated by this mosque? It is located directly in the city center and everything is very lively around it. I admit there are other mosques I visited that are not built in the greenfield. But normally, they have a large vestibule around them so that the city life is a bit separated from them (although I have seen mosques in Ankara and Mersin that had supermarkets or malls in their ground floors – that is to fund the costs of those houses of prayer).

In İskenderun however the shopping streets are only 10 or 20 meters far from the mosque’s buildings (that is the “normal” mosque, the women’s mosque, the washing area and the WC). Close to the mosque’s main entrance I talked to some Syrian refugees who sat there and asked for handouts. Okay, “talking” is said too much. I do not speak Arabic and they speak as little Turkish as me. I would have wanted to get to know more about their history, their life in Syria and in Turkey. But this means I will have to improve my Turkish language skills and come back some other time. I am thinking about this as the mountains around Iskenderun look like they would be nice for some mountainbike tours:

Wenn du genau hinsiehst, erkennst du rechts im Bild, noch im Park, ein Kopftuchmädchen, das seine

When you look close enough you will recognize the headscarved girl on the right side of the picture. She took pictures of her friend without headscarf posing. So tolerance is possible.

Okay, as I gave you a picture of the mountains you will also get this one of the mosque:

You see there is a lot going on: people are passing by while on their way to shopping or whatever. Sitting at the wall you see one of the Syrian women I had talked to. On the right side (unfortunately the sign is not to be seen) you can find what I like most about mosques: the public toilet.

I also visited the bazar:

On the left of the picture there were kitchen knifes being sold. The ones from Lacoste. We do not have something exclusive like that even in Western Europe!!

After that I went to the well-known Petek Café gegangen to buy some chocolate for my friends in Switzerland and İzmir zu besorgen. This is the sort of chocolate that saved me from being suspected for a longer time by the police in South Turkey to be a potential djihadist intending to fight for the “Islamic state”:

I know we should say Daesh instead of “Islamic State” or IS/ISIL/ISID. But I have to think about my Google indexing, too, hun.

By the way, this is the shop where I bought the headscarves:

Ich vermute, selbst Ungeübte erkennen recht schnell den Bezug zum Islam.

I guess even untrained person will recognize the obvious reference to Islam.

For some relief here is a picture of a Christian church – too much Islam makes you go crazy:

Eine Synagoge

Unfortunately, I could not find a synagogue. As far as I know, there are none in İskenderun. The more you can find in Izmir.

Now for something totally un-Islamic – when you know about some symbolism in Islam: one of the cafés in İskenderun offers its vases containing plastic flowers being the official ashtrays at the same time. Juicy detail about this: in Turkish Islam the rose stands for Mohammed the prophet. This means you are just using the founder of Islam as an ashtray. I guess this is not nice.

Noch ein kleines kulturelles Detail:

One more detail: while the rose stands for Mohammed the tulip is the symbol for Allah. This is because the Turkish word for tulip, lale, written in Arabic signs looks very similiar to those for the word “Allah”. But I have seen these symbols, tulip and rose, only in Turkish respectively Ottoman Islam. The Arab countries do not accept these symbols. I guess Daesh would not like it at all.

I also bought something for myself (this will be the last picture). It is not because I think it is especially beautiful but cranky. It is the Arabic sign/s for the word “Allah”. I chose the golden version instead of a silver one thinking of my Turkish friends and Turks loving just everything that is golden. There was also something with fake brilliants one it but I found that too much:

Wenn du auch erkennst, was ich sehe, dann behalte es lieber für dich. Es könnte dir negativ ausgelegt werden.

If you see what I mean keep it to you. The information could be very offending to others.

tl;dr
I am very happy I made this short trip from Izmir to Iskenderun so I earned all these impressions. Also I loved to see my friends here again. And last but not least it is much warmer than in Izmir or at home in Sitzerland 😉

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