Social tension in the neighborhood has been high since a riot in late September, when attendees at six simultaneous gallery openings were attacked by local residents wielding pepper spray bottles and assorted brickbats. The brawling left five individuals hospitalized and ignited a round of soul-searching that reached into the top levels of government.

Locals justified their aggressive actions by saying that the gallery crowds were disrespectful of neighborhood sensitivities, in particular drinking alcohol in the open. The secularist press, meanwhile, derided the locals’ behavior, with one newspaper running a headline: “Forest Law in the City of Culture.” Gallery owners also recounted tales of intimidation and receiving threats to leave the neighborhood, or face consequences.

Turkey: Istanbul Gentrification Opens Second Front in Culture War

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