Stories about Istanbul

What comes after the Istanbul Airport attack?

On Tuesday night, just as millions of Muslims here were breaking their Ramazan fasts, three terrorists attacked the city’s busy airport. They fired randomly at passengers with automatic weapons before blowing themselves up. They killed 41 innocent people, most of them Muslims, supposedly in the name of Islam. The assault on the airport is the latest in a series of horrible traumas in Turkey. In the past year, the country has endured almost a dozen major terrorist attacks. Some were the work of the Islamic State, which kills in the name of God; others were the work of the Kurdistan ...

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Hijrat: A step back for Pakistani cinema

Since Pakistan’s cinema industry began its journey towards improvement and development, directors began sharing unique stories through their movies. Where Na Maloom Afraad, Waar, Karachi Se Lahore, and Manto amongst others boosted the revival of Pakistani cinema, it also provided a platform for directors to display their immense talent. However, the recently released Hijrat, directed by Farooq Mengal, failed to make the same impact as it fell short in a number of areas. Simply put, the acting in Hijrat is plain, flat and mediocre. It felt as if the actors were reading the script without emotions, completely detached from their assigned characters. Moreover, the romantic scenes failed ...

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How shrinking freedom of press in Turkey brought me closer to Pakistan

In Pakistan, during my second year as a news correspondent for Turkey, four of my Turkish friends and I decided to take a vacation to Istanbul, via Islamabad. The scorching Karachi sun could do nothing to subdue the excitement I was feeling since I was going back to my country after quite some time. Planning was underway and we converted all the money we owned to dollars, except for Rs1000 each, in case of an emergency. Since we had decided to travel by train, we booked a six person compartment on the Tezgam Express. The sixth person in our compartment was a ...

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s despotic zeal: Shameful day for free press in Turkey

The virtual control he already has of a majority of Turkey’s newspapers and TV stations apparently isn’t enough for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. On Friday, with the zeal of its despotic leader, his government seized my paper, Today’s Zaman, and its parent, the Turkish-language Zaman, which is the highest-circulating daily in the country. Together, these titles were two of the few remaining independent voices inside Turkey — and Today’s Zaman, in particular, was a reliable English-language news source for diplomats, academics and expatriates. On Friday, a government-controlled court appointed trustees to take over the newspapers in what amounts to a politically motivated assault. At midnight, protesters faced tear ...

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Will Turkey and Syria be another Pakistan-Afghanistan?

When we were younger and played with matchsticks, our parents used to say ‘don’t play with fire, or your hands will get burned’. The January 12, 2016, suicide bombing in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district has certainly highlighted this predicament. The attack took the lives of 10 people, all of them German citizens and was swiftly, or rather conveniently, blamed on the Islamic State. As if Tuesday’s incident wasn’t enough, a car bomb went off outside a police headquarters in the predominantly Kurdish Cinar district, Diyarbakir province, killing six people and wounding at least 39. This attack has been blamed on the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) militants, who ...

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Is the majestic and secular Turkey ready for its horde of tourists?

Nearly 42 million tourists flocked to Turkey last year, generating over $36 billion in revenue for its tourism industry and this year, Turkey is expecting more tourists than ever before. Amidst more than a million other tourists, I too was one of them and visited Istanbul last week. The massive influx of people was evident from an aerial view of the airport, even before we touched down at the airport. Planes landed in quick succession, at intervals of barely a couple of minutes, and the immigration desk lines for foreign passport holders far exceeded those reserved for the locals. The fruit of Turkey’s past efforts in aggressively promoting its many historical, cultural and natural wonders was evident. ...

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Planning to visit Istanbul? Here are 13 food items to entice your taste buds

On my visit to Istanbul, one of the main attractions of the city for me was the exquisite food. Their cuisines looked simple yet tasted amazing. It was mostly mild yet full of flavours. One could eat here for days and not miss the oily biryani and karhai back home. Therefore, here is a list of 13 food items which you must try if you ever visit Istanbul: 1. Doner Kebab Photo: Urooj Hussain This one is a no-brainer; there is not a thing which says Istanbul like freshly grilled Doner Kebabs. It’s by far the first thing that anyone tries as soon as they ...

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Steven Gerrard, you will never walk alone

All the suspense regarding Steven Gerrard’s future at Liverpool came to an end when, on January 2nd, he finally announced his departure from his beloved hometown club. He described this as “the toughest decision” of his life. The Reds captain will bring the curtain down on a glittering Anfield career that has spanned almost 17 years. This decision comes at a time when the club is struggling at the eighth Premier League spot and has been knocked out of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, to which they returned after three season’s absence. Gerrard mentioned that he will not be playing ...

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I found God in Turkey

“Whatever is meant for you, […], is bound to come to you. It may have to come all the way from Istanbul to San Francisco, or even by a more roundabout route, but it will come to you.” – Sheikh Mozaffar Ozak And that is how I found myself at the Dubai airport, waiting to board my next flight to Istanbul, wondering how on earth I ended up there. Wasn’t travel one of those things that other people did, but never me? Wasn’t it for carefree people? Surely not for me, for I have too many responsibilities. I am not a mom who leaves ...

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Our weapons must not be the reason children in Syria are dying!

I stood underneath the shadow of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. This grand symbol of the Ottoman legacy rested benevolently amid a vast courtyard filled with lush gardens, sparkling fountains and the excited murmurs of tourists. As I fully absorbed my surroundings, I felt a sudden tug on the hem of my shirt. I looked down to see a child standing in front of me, repeatedly pointing to something he held in his left hand. He was young of age, hardly thirteen-years-old. His worn out clothes and look of utter desperation were enough to betray the fact that he was not ...

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