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The Turkish protests are not the Arab Spring

If you drive north toward Istanbul’s Huqqa lounge you’ll pass Dolmabahce Palace on your right. Inferiority complexes coincide with interminable fiscal crises. Built to proclaim the Ottoman Empire’s European identity, the Palace instead accomplished the Empire’s bankruptcy—leading to its disappearance some decades later. It was buried by the most famous man to die in that palace, Kemal Ataturk.

Then there’s Huqqa, which, I’ll argue, imagines a Turkey in which he didn’t happen, or at least one in which the most caustic aspects of his legacy have been erased.

You’ve probably read a lot about the Turkish protests. But they’re not about trees, not about a park, not about a shopping mall, not even about the current Prime Minister and resident bull in the china shop, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but about stories. Who Turks think they are, how far back they trace their history, what they make of Ottomans and Ataturks, and what that means for their future.

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