Turkish Culture and Religion

People and Religion

Blaring from hundreds of radios; the object of the ages-old rit­ual of bargaining is as likely to be a mobile phone or cheap watch as it is a bag of saffron or a kilim. Even those young Is­tanbul women who have adopted the veil may well wear a fig­ure-hugging version that highlights rather than disguises what lies beneath. There are, however, some clear indications of a re­newed religious fervor in all levels of society.

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Turkey nurtures many cultures within its borders. Istanbul and Ankara have a sophisticated international lifestyle; a cas­ual, beachfront charm typifies the coastal resorts. Yet go only a few kilometres inland and you see an entirely different coun­try, peopled by chickens and goats, squat women in head-
scarves, cardigans and baggy trousers, and men with volup­tuous mustaches and flat caps. This is a country where women work the fields, a flock of small children tug­ging at their clothes, while the men hang out in tea shops playing backgammon and righting the ills of the world. The Turks love to talk.
A crossroads for armies and empires throughout its history, Turkey still walks the delicate tightrope be­tween East and West, look­ing for friends and influence in both directions, and act­ing as a moderate buffer zone in the current tense po­litical atmosphere. So far, it has succeeded admirably.

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