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Turkey’s public stairways become colourful protests

23rd September 2013

Red and yellow and pink and green…

Stairways across Turkey are now a wash with colours, during recent solidarity protests which have spread across Turkey.

The brightly rainbow painted stairways which can be seen across Turkey started in Istanbul when a local man decided to paint the steps linking the neighborhoods of Cihangir and Findikli in an array of colours.

The local man named Huseyin Cetinel, a retired forestry engineer told local news that his motivation was “to make people smile”* and to “beautify his surroundings” and he succeeded in doing more than that.

Taking him a week to do and costing over 1, 500 TL, Mr. Centinel, who only painted three of the steps at first, was prompted to paint all 200 steps by encouraging comments from passersby.

It was first thought that the steps were painted by gay right groups, in protest for equal rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Istanbul.

The ‘rainbow stairs’ stirred a lot of interest by locals and tourists who took photos which spread across social media sites.

Mr. Cetinels creativity was not taken kindly by the local Beyoglu municipality which hastily repainted the public stairway back to their original colour, dark grey.
This act by the local municipality caused locals to strongly react against this, with residents up in arms about the ‘greying of the steps’

As calls to re-paint the Findikli stairs back to bright colours spread on Twitter and Facebook, people across Turkey had taken up their brushes in solidarity and painted public stairs in the cities in similar colours.

To many the re-painting of the rainbow stairs seemed to be another sign of a controlling government and a lack of respect for their right to claim public space, re-fueling the protesters to come together in another demonstration.

“The most colourful protest” said one local newspaper, as images of colourful stairways were displayed from Ankara to Izmir.

All over Turkey family and friends were working together in painting the local stairways in bright colours, it had become a show of unison for Turks everywhere, bringing people out onto the streets with their paints and brushes.

Despite the ‘rainbow steps’ uprising, Mr. Cetinel told news reporters that he did not intend to paint the stairway for political activism.

There is a new movement in Turkish society, a social uprising together with the Gezi Park protesters and the paining of the public stairways is another extension of that spirit.
Any sense of oppression or government control is bringing people together in complete solidarity against them.

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