Turkey’s Most Radical Book Club

June 26, 2013 | Marie Calloway

Al Jazeera recently released a striking photo essay documenting the “Standing Man” protest currently taking place in Turkey. It started when performance artist Erdem Gunduz silently stood facing the Ataturk Cultural Centre in Taksim Square, Istanbul, for eight hours.

In an interview Gunduz said, “Maybe the media and people will learn something from this silent standing, this resistance… Maybe they will feel some empathy. I am just an ordinary citizen of this country. We want our voices to be heard.”

This kind of quiet, contemplative form of protest seems to have inspired the empathy Gunduz hoped for.  Across Turkey, thousands of people have taken to protesting the “Standing Man” way. One poignant spin on this form of peaceful resistance is “The Taksim Square Book Club.”  Members of the book club stand silently in Taksim Square reading often symbolically chosen books. Orwell’s 1984, Kafka, Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus and The Criss of the Modern World by Rene Guenon were some of the popular selections, many reflecting on the themes of justice, oppression and despair.