Istanbul United: Rival fans of Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, and Besiktas protest against the Turkish government together
The demonstration against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government that has erupted in Turkey has already seen an initially peaceful protest over the proposed redevelopment of Istanbul’s Taksim Square evolve into a fully fledged movement in multiple cities involving hundreds of thousands of people.
Perhaps serving as a barometer for how the Turkish people have united is the fact that fans of Istanbul’s football clubs Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, and Besiktas have put their differences aside to challenge the authoritarian regime. The image above of three rival supporters with their arms around each other has been circulating on Twitter, and the message is perfectly clear.
“Go on spray, go on spray, spray your pepper gas. Take off your helmets, put down your truncheons and let’s see who’s the tough guy,” sang the fans, taunting police with a Besiktas chant which has become popular with the demonstrators.
There are tales of Galatasaray fans coming to the aid of Fenerbahce supporters trapped by the police, or of fans rushing down the hill from Taksim to the aid of rival supporters in the nearby Besiktas district on the shores of the Bosphorus.
“We are normally enemies, but this has really brought us together. It’s never happened before,” said university student Mert Gurses, 18, wearing a black-and-white Besiktas scarf and chatting with friends near the fish market in Besiktas.
There’s little evidence to suggest how the situation in Turkey will shift, but the spirit of the nation is alive and well with its citizens in this time of chaos, even transcending supposed eternal rivals in sport.