If you plan to be on the Asian side, be cautious.
The US Mission in Turkey has released a security message about a political rally planned for Istanbul’s Maltepe district on Sunday. It’s supposed to start at 5 p.m. and organizers expect more than a million people to show up.
Of course, who knows how many people will actually show up, but that’s a lot of people.
The rally will be the culmination of a march by the opposition Republican People’s Party that started on June 15. The party’s leader is in the home stretch of a long walk alongside supporters, sparked by the jailing of a member of parliament accused of sharing state secrets with the press. The location of the rally was chosen, since its the district where he’s been imprisoned.
In it’s note, the US government was vague about the threat, saying that “terrorists have targeted political rallies in the past, and that demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.”
But the march has attracted the ire of the Turkish President and Prime Minister, and comes on the heels of a highly polarizing referendum to change the constitution (the ruling party won). Since the march has started, it’s received international attention and The New York Times has even published an op-ed by its leader.
So don’t be surprised if — in addition to police and supporters — there are opponents ready to start trouble, as well as throngs of Turkish and foreign media.
If you’re a foreigner who wants to steer clear of that, then stay away from the Maltepe district. More specifically, avoid the area around Tuzla Stadium and Dragos Park. The path between the two locations is marked below:
As long a trek as this may seem be from the city center, it’s not too far from some areas frequented by foreigners: the Kadikoy neighborhood, Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Pendik Train Station and Bagdat Avenue.
And the crowds may not be confined to just that part of Istanbul. The US government writes that, “Other unsanctioned, unannounced rallies may occur in other locations of Istanbul as well,” although it doesn’t specify where.
So stay safe, and stay informed. But don’t freak out. Just be smart about where you go, especially if you don’t know Turkish.