As it was recently outspoken said by a person living in Istanbul, people in Turkey are used to face crisis and react differently when it comes to taking concrete measures.
Considering my last observations while walking around this impressive city, I would counterbalance this statement saying that there is no general definition, understanding or “formula” of how people take into account the last evolutions of Coronavirus in their personal lives. There is sadness, pity and frustration, but there is also hope, joy and detachment.
Nevertheless, it has not come yet to what we could call a “human and cultural movement” like in China, Italy, Spain and even Lebanon, where people have turned against the restrictions imposed by their governments through art, and more precisely through music. Those joyful moments emerged thanks to popular songs, towards which people got attached with from their balconies. In France, even a student initiative called “Les 10 minutes du people” was set up, inviting everyone to daily turn on some music at 19:30 within a facebook group with the same name.
Symbolic moments of mental fight against the virus, but also against isolation and loneliness.
People in #Wuhan shouting together from their apartments last night. Some say they shouted to pay tribute to Li Wenliang, who first exposed #CoronaVirus Outbreak, and who died yesterday. What they shouted though, is "Wuhan, Add oil", meaning keep fighting, pump up, or cheer up pic.twitter.com/3eYG9lKuIV
— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) February 7, 2020
In China, this movement even took another turn: while people started to quote the song “Do you hear the people sing” used by pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, in order to grieve the death of Li Wenliang – 1st doctor to warn about the coronavirus outbreak –, but most of all to call for a general fight and solidarity, the Chinese government continues to censor phrases such as #I want freedom of speech# on platforms like Weibo or WeChat.
Let’s see what impacts this virus will have on societies and their citizens…
Restrictive steps are not explicitly in Turkey’s agenda yet, which is noticeable amongst the population. Some still go to work, minibuses are still stopping at every corner, çay is still being sold on the boats. Elder people are still in the streets, using masks to protect themselves. As stated by The New York Times with regard to Italy, “to the extent that this is a virus that tries people’s souls, it has also demonstrated the strengths of those national characters”.
But how will this national character express itself in Turkey? Will arts and culture be the way of a mental escape out of this situation? Confinement can lead to the emergence of ideas and creativity, maybe it’ll also make us aware of our involvement, our role and our power in society’s life and changes.
Every day at 9pm in Istanbul, people gather at their windows to applaud health workers fighting for COVİD-19.