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Tourists undaunted, feel safe after Istanbul terror attack 



İstiklal Street is one of the most popular locations in Istanbul and attracts tourists from around the world almost every day. Bustling daily life on the thriving shopping street was disrupted on Sunday when a bomb planted by the PKK/YPG terrorist group exploded and claimed at least six lives. Yet, the street quickly recovered and returned to life in just one day.

Tourists returned to the street as well, sharing that Türkiye remains a safe destination for them.

Apart from the rows of Turkish flags adorning the street and the flowers left by mourners at the exact spot of the bombing, İstiklal Street is back to its old self.

“We don’t think there will be another attack. Security measures are high,” Czech tourists Lucie Hnizdilova and Petra Jerabkoca shared. Both these women were present on the street at the time of the attack, although they were a little farther from the scene. “We were worried at first but never thought about returning home. We love Istanbul so much,” they said. “Türkiye has faced such attacks in the past and stood strong. We should stand strong too,” they added.

Mario Albert Graf, along with his wife and daughter Marianne and Jeanine, was at the exact location of the attack, about half an hour before the explosive went off. “We had walked about 300 meters away from the scene when the bomb exploded. We felt sorry but decided to stay. We admire Istanbul, we admire Turkish people. We have a message for them, ‘never give up, terror cannot achieve its purpose (of scaring people away),’” he said.

Similarly, Russian tourist Darya Mozhaeva shared that although she was scared, she knew that terror can strike anywhere. “It doesn’t matter wherever you live or visit. I had passed through Istiklal just five minutes before the explosion. I witnessed the fear and panic. But this attack will not change my perspective of Türkiye. I am not afraid of being here,” she proclaimed.


Another visitor from Israel, Avivit Monis, said she was shocked when she heard about the blast and called the Israeli Embassy. “They told me to go back to my hotel and stay indoors. But I told them this was what terrorists wanted, (to scare people). So, I am back in Istiklal. People need courage, not fear,” she said as she walked along the street on Wednesday.

Lyubomir Konakchiev, a Bulgarian tourist, is not a stranger to terrorist attacks in Istanbul and recounts how another attack hit the city just one day before he traveled to Istanbul in 2012. “I was a bit scared but once I visited Istanbul, I loved it so much. I am back here and there was another terror attack. It is worrying but I am not scared. I stand with Turkish people against terrorism and feel safe here,” he maintained.

On the other hand, Alissa and Angelica Marquez, two sisters from the Philippines, said that people should not shut themselves in after the attack. “Then, we let terrorists win. This is what they wanted. Streets belong to people. We feel safe in Istanbul,” the siblings shared.

Filipino tourists Alissa and Angelica Marquez speak in an interview, on Istiklal Street, in Istanbul, Türkiye, Nov. 16, 2022. (PHOTO BY BULUT YAMANDAĞ)

Meanwhile, Hammami Ammar, a Tunisian tourist, had something similar to say. Communicating the condolences of the Tunisian people for Türkiye, he said: “We are sad but not scared. I just arrived in Istanbul on Tuesday and came to Istiklal immediately. I will be here tomorrow and will walk freely, without fear. Türkiye is a country too beautiful to abandon in the hands of terrorism,” Ammar asserted.


Businesses also recovered from the impact of the attack and quickly reopened. Business owners echo tourists’ sentiments and say they will not be daunted. Speaking to Mustafa Kaya from Sabah newspaper, Ali Doğan says he is not scared though the blast injured two staff at his hairdresser, whose windows were smashed in the explosion. “We will continue living under this flag,” he says, pointing to the Turkish flags lining the street.

Yaşar Deniz, a street vendor, says he will continue doing his job. “We are strong against terrorism,” he says.

Ali İhsan Batur, who runs a chocolate shop on the street, says he opened back up to show that they are not afraid of terrorism. “Terrorists try to sow panic but businesses here are back at work. We are not intimidated,” restaurant owner Ali Tepe says.

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Source: Daily Sabah

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