Returning to Istanbul, Turkey
After a year of CNN news alerts on my iPhone and my office forbidding me to do my regular business travel in Turkey, I somehow managed to convince everyone in my personal and professional life that things would be okay. Or at least, I tried to fly under the radar as much as possible, and changed the subject every time someone brought up Turkey.
If you follow the world news at all, you know the Cliff Notes version is that Turkey has been a whirlwind of suicide bombings, shootings, an airport siege and a failed coup in recent months. The country seems alight with political instability and various violent groups. Liberal activists, journalists and educators have been jailed in record numbers. And pretty soon a referendum vote is bound to cause unease and instability, no matter what the outcome.
If you're following the news, Turkey seems like a no-go battle ground.
Is Turkey Alone?
Are there security concerns in Turkey? Of course. Is it the right time to go there on vacation? Maybe not. And I wouldn't want to downplay it all. Over the past several years, there has been an unfortunate series of events and political leaders that have led Turkey into a bit of an unfortunate tailspin. But, here's the source of my frustration - media coverage.
You see Western Europe has had multiple terrorist attacks in Belgium, France, the UK, Germany, etc. But no one had a melt down when I went to Belgium on vacation last year, did they?
Did anyone even know that there was a suicide bombing in Phuket, Thailand before I travelled there for Christmas holiday?
I spend 4-6 weeks a year travelling in about a dozen countries in Africa, some of which there are genuine security concerns. But, they're not NATO countries. When people get kidnapped or terrorists strike, it usually doesn't make it into the 24 hour repeat news cycle.
Am I telling you that Turkey is 100% safe? No. I'm just asking you to challenge yourself to put the 24 hour news cycle into context and consider who chooses what gets covered and what doesn't. Not every country has the "pleasure" of being a NATO member, that serves as the literal landmass between Europe and the Middle East. All eyes on Turkey.