Islamists vs. Hipsters in Istanbul
It appears that things have finally come to a boil in Istanbul rapidly gentrifying and trendy Beyoglu district. Last night, a group of some 30 men wielding sticks and stones attacked the openings of two neighboring galleries in the area, smashing windows, spraying pepper spray, and injuring at least five people.
The attack took place in a part of the neighborhood that has become something of an arts hub, with several new independent galleries opening up there in recent years. The Istanbul Modern, the city's first modern arts museum, is just down the hill from the galleries.
At the same time, the neighborhood's residents are mostly rural migrants from Turkey's east and center, many of them religiously and politically conservative. While news reports say the attackers were angered by the fact that the gallery goes were drinking alcohol in the street, its also possible that some of the art on display (including a sculpture that appears to be mocking Ataturk, modern Turkey's founder), was not appreciated by the local thugs.
A report on the attack is here, while Jennifer Hattam, an American journalist living in Istanbul, gives an eyewitness account on her blog.
UPDATE -- More details, including a look at what role tensions over gentrification played in the incident, here and here.