Bombing of U.S. embassy draws mixed response
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
When Aytaç Karabay lived in Ankara, Turkey, he worked as a psychologist, helping children with special needs, family issues and drug problems. He described the capital city of Turkey as composed of “lots of buildings, families, poor people and rich people,” and one where “70 percent of people lead an ordinary life.”
Karabay, now a psychology graduate student in the English Language Institute at the university, lived near the U.S. embassy during his five years in Ankara.
When he heard about the suicide bombing that took place at the U.S. embassy on Feb. 1, he said he called his brother to see if everyone was safe. His brother told him that two people died, but his friends and family were okay.
“This kind of violence is usual, like so many things,” Karabay said. “It’s still ok to visit the country.”
Professor Brian Peasnall and Professor Robin Underhill, both professors at the Associate in Arts Program at Delaware’s Georgetown campus, planned to take students to study in Turkey during the 2013 Winter Session. The lack of student interest in the trip forced them to cancel it, Peasnall said.
The trip would have included studying “Western Civilization to 1648” and “Early Civilizations of the Old World,” an excursion to the site of Troy and appreciating the history of Istanbul, Peasnall said.
History professor Rudolph Matthee traveled to Turkey in the 1970s as a student. Matthee said he has been there many times over the past 40 years and believes Turkey is a very safe country.
Peasnall has a summer home in Turkey. He performs research there, and will be traveling there again with a group of students at the end of May to present at a symposium. He said that he has never felt threatened, even when working in the middle of a war zone in the 1990s.
In reaction to the bombing, Peasnall said he thinks it is unfortunate that the embassy bombing occurred, but it’s a very rare situation. He said the targeting of Americans has been extremely rare in Turkey and he believes this is an isolated situation.
“In all honesty, I think you have less of a chance of something bad happening to you while travelling in Turkey than you would if you spent a week in New York City,” Peasnall said.
Underhill said the bombing should not affect the university’s involvement with Turkey, but noted that the perceptions of violence have the power to influence others, he said.
Karabay said he was not nervous about the bombing and plans to go back to Ankara next year. He said that people will be affected when deciding to travel to Turkey, but for him, it always feels safe.
Matthee, who first went to Turkey in 1974, said some of the turmoil in Turkey comes from political strife under the surface. He said there are lots of political entities in the country, including a strong secular tradition and a strong military tradition.
“I don’t really have a sense of what these guys who perpetrated this attack a few days ago are all about and to what extent how widespread and how connected they are,” he said. “I don’t think any of us know.”
Matthee said he would not stop going to Turkey because it would be like not coming to the United States because of the recent mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The U.S. embassy is a very obvious target, Matthee said, compared to the random nature of the shootings in the U.S. He said the random nature of shootings in America are more worrying than politically motivated attacks in Turkey.
Matthee said there is a balance between overreacting and being cautious or judicious. He said there is a level of risk in all travels and he does not worry about random violence because life is unpredictable.
“You put it in a certain context and it becomes much more nuanced,” Matthee said. “If you transpose that to Turkey, I would say that Turkey is a very safe place.”