Despite months of violence and unrest, spirits were high in Diyarbakir, Turkey's largest Kurdish town in the country's southeast, prior to Sunday's elections. In the previous weeks, multiple curfews had been declared in the city and in several towns in the region.
"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.
Eighteen months after a ceasefire between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Turkey’s security forces took effect, clouds of trouble are gathering in the country’s south-east.
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.
Sitting with hundreds of other protesters in the centre of Istanbul's Gezi Park Thursday night, Arzu Marsh rummages through her backpack to show off what she calls her makeshift "emergency kit": medical masks, a red spray-bottle filled with a liquid
that lessens the effect of tear gas, a scarf and some food.
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.
The peaceful withdrawal from Turkey of combatants from the Kurdistan's Workers Party (PKK) began last Wednesday but is already at risk of being compromised following a twin car bomb explosion on Saturday afternoon. The terrorist attack in Rayhanli in the Syrian border province of Hatay caused 46 civilian deaths and at least 155 injuries.
As the uprising in Syria becomes violently entangled with its neighbours, the expatriate opposition leadership is already formulating plans for a political transition following the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.