Victims in Istanbul Airport Attack Reflect City’s International Character

Reflections on “Victims in Istanbul Airport Attack Reflect City’s International Character” (article originally from the New York Times)

“You see it on TV and you know it happens, but we are naïve to the fact that it could happen to us.” —Tanika Golota, a victim of the Istanbul airport attacks

The night is dark, quiet, and cold—what I would expect from a midnight walk through the streets of Seoul—but not dangerous. Despite holding 10 million people in its skinny apartments and sparkling towers, a quick search through crime statistics yields a long list of “very low” and “low” ratings for the bustling metropolitan center. I am fortunate; I don’t fall asleep to the pops of gunfire or the wailings of police sirens that are ingrained in the lives of others around the world.

But Seoul is not invulnerable, and neither are Istanbul, Orlando, Paris, and the many other cities which have bled these past months and in 2015. This is a thought I have only recently come across after fifteen years of absolute security and safety, one I have entertained only after taking in the horrors that have unfolded around the globe.

It is unbelievable how easily I could hurt someone in my neighborhood should I so choose. The police are rarely armed, and seeing a police car is in itself an unusual sight. This is not because Seoul is lacking in law enforcement, but simply because common problems plaguing other large cities have not manifested themselves so clearly here. What happens, though, when a group of people exist solely to shatter this balance? We are only beginning to see the effects of mass terrorism worldwide, and despite the relatively small portion of the population that is affected by it, its effects have still unnerved many.

Istanbul, to its credit, has stayed on its feet. Even with the recent airport attacks having shattered normalcy, Turkish citizens have shown remarkable resolve and solidarity. But I often wonder how we would deal with such a tragedy should one occur in a city so alien to notions of violence and terrorism.

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