As recently reported on Eurasianet's Kebabistan blog, Istanbul municipal authorities have recently instituted a crackdown on outdoor seating in the city's Beyoglu district, known for its bustling bars and cafes. The street fight now seems to be escalating, with city inspectors confiscating the instruments of musicians playing in Beyoglu's streets and some 20 people being detained in a recent police raid after they refused to stop drinking in a makeshift outdoor space.
The Hurriyet Daily News has an interesting article up looking at the some of the underlying problems of the battle to control Beyoglu's outdoor life. From the article:
If Istanbul were a sky, there is little doubt that its famous Beyoğlu district would be a rainbow thanks to the diversity of colors existing side by side. Walking along the district’s iconic İstiklal Avenue, one can see a number of surreal juxtapositions that would rarely be seen elsewhere, such as a Santa Clause trying to coax people into a kebab restaurant or people angrily protesting cheek and jowl with a group of musicians.
But Beyoğlu’s technicolor landscape is slowly losing its vividness due to recent conflicts between Beyoğlu Municipality, area residents and business owners over the use of public space and noise coming from street musicians....
....Korhan Gümüş, from The Human Settlements Association, or HSA, a nongovernmental organization in Beyoğlu that focuses on issues related to local governance, said state officials in Turkey were not aware of how to use the public spaces.
“The use of public space also requires a cultural plan,” Gümüş told the Daily News. “İstiklal Avenue is an area that is especially like Turkey’s window abroad. There are opera singers there and there are traditional musicians; the municipality can control this by limiting the decibels. Taking away instruments is just despotism,” he said.