"Being an atheist isn't something you can easily express in Turkey,” says Sinem Köroğlu, a member of the Atheism Association, the first official organisation for atheists in the country. “It's becoming more difficult with the current government as well,” she adds.
The announcement this week of the personality chosen by Turkey’s opposition parties to run for the office of the President of the Republic has taken the majority of the Turks by surprise.
The escalating turmoil over corruption allegations against Turkey’s political elite is now threatening the ruling Justice and Development Party’s greatest achievement – Turkey’s economic growth. With national elections looming in the future, that threat could affect the party’s 11-plus-year hold on power, some local observers believe.
Now approaching its third week, the "Occupy Taksim" movement, a peaceful sit-in to save Istanbul's Gezi Park from redevelopment, has taken on a festival-like atmosphere, with protesters organising to stand guard around the clock, provide uninterrupted food and water supplies, and carry out a self-initiated cleaning of the grounds.
As protests in Turkey stretch into their second week, the precise terms and conditions that could bring the social unrest to an end are unclear, though many speculate about what would end the deadlock between the government and protesters.
Few imagined that the symbolic act of standing in front of bulldozers in Istanbul's Gezi Park in an effort to block a development project near the city's central square would have caused the reaction it did.
"Peace at home, peace in the world" is the official motto of the Turkish Republic. Coined in 1931 by the republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, it implies a causal relationship, but the events this week in Istanbul and dozens of other cities of Turkey suggest that causality can work in reverse order, too.