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Saturday 18 November 2017

'It's starting to feel like Iraq now', says Irishman in city

Steve O'Farrell
Steve O'Farrell

IRISH expats in Istanbul have spoken of their horror at the Reina nightclub attack, with some expressing fears at growing anti-western sentiment.

Dubliner Steve O'Farrell, who runs a translation and consultancy business in the city, said people across Istanbul were left horrified by the mass murder.

"The attack was absolutely terrible," he said.

"It's starting to feel like it happens as frequently here now as in places like Iraq. It's been an oppressive atmosphere here for a long time now.

killed

"Due to the political situation, people are not comfortable about talking too much."

He said expats have become used now to checking if Irish citizens have been killed or injured in Turkish terrorist attacks.

"We've been keeping an eye out on this as well as previous attacks, so we're almost certain no Irish were hurt last night," said the father-of-two (45).

"It's unfortunate that we're actually getting used to it."

He said an anti-Christian sentiment was also evident.

"This attack is not very surprising," said Steve, who runs a social media site for Irish people living in Turkey. There have always been Islamist types putting out anti-Christmas and anti-new year's propaganda.

"They have posters of Santa getting punched, Santa with a gun to his head, things like that.

"People used to ignore them, but they've been getting braver in recent years. Last week, all teachers at government schools got a text from the governorship telling them not to celebrate new year as it's against the culture.

"Most urban Turks are just like us, and there are videos [on social media] of Turkish people standing up to the Islamist guys spreading this stuff.

"But the ground has been laid, and they have implicit permission to do more - a bit like the racist element in the US being more open since Trump."

heinous

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan condemned what he called the "heinous attack" at the Reina nightclub and warned Irish citizens to exercise caution in Turkey.

Irish holiday companies say they expect regular visitors to Turkish resorts like Kusadasi to return again this year.

"Istanbul is four-and-a-half hours from resorts like Kusadasi. We have repeat customers who go year after year and we expect them to do so again in 2017," said a spokeswoman for Sunway Holidays.

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