Or, to put it in English, may there be peace on Earth, and rest in peace (to the lives lost today).
Izmir'den herkese merhaba. / Hello to all from Izmir.
I hate for my first post of this year to have to be about something like this, and I hate that something like this has even happened for me to need to write about.
But, essentially, to inform anyone who is still not in the know, a bomb was detonated in Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul this morning near the Blue Mosque, a spot popular with tourists, which killed 15 people (most of them German citizens) and injured another 10.
Hearing this news broke my heart and was deeply surreal for me, not only in that I was in that place less than two weeks ago, but also in that I previously had no idea - I only heard about this from friends and family checking in on me from other parts of the world around midday today.
I will be getting back to you all, likely after I have left this beautiful and wonderful country on the 17th, to give overviews of my various adventures in each of the cities I have visited.
But for now, I wanted to share some thoughts I've had in the immediate wake of this dreadful tragedy, and get them out into the blogosphere quickly.
First and foremost, let me express my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victims of today's despicable attacks, as well as those in Ankara back in October. The world mourns with you, and I hope you all know you are not alone.
Secondly, I wanted to take this chance to highlight that Turkey is not a dangerous place. I have been in this country for nearly two weeks by now, and though I've understandably been nervous at points about navigating cities I don't know well in a country whose language I only haphazardly speak, at no point since I landed in Istanbul have I ever for a second feared for my safety. This is a safe and beautiful country populated by a people with warmth, friendliness, and hospitality that is unmatched, and that is the Turkey that I want to make sure the rest of the world knows.
Third and finally, I wanted to express thoughts on an issue that's been on my mind a lot over the past few months, but I have neglected to share on this blog, concerning the refugee situation.
Talking with friends I hung out with today, the thought came up that the suspect of today's attacks' Syrian origin could potentially fuel Islamophobia and anti-refugee backlash around the world.
And, to that effect, I want to encourage any and everyone who reads this to please protect and stick up for Muslim friends of yours and Muslims the world over for any misguided blind hatred they may receive in the wake of this news.
This, like the October attack in Ankara, like the November attack in Paris, are what most refugees experience on a daily basis and to much higher degrees in their war-torn homelands. They are not the ones causing these attacks, and this violence is exactly what they are fleeing. To anyone who believes that hard-working, good-hearted individuals fleeing the type of living hell that they are does not deserve the chance for a better life in a new country, you need to check yourselves. Your blind bigotry and hatred is sickening.
In short, please protect Muslims and refugees in any and every way possible, and please keep the victims of today's attacks, all past attacks, and all future attacks in your thoughts and/or prayers, in whatever way you best see fit.
May love, peace, and justice prevail on Earth.