Stereotypes are based on things people have heard, seen or read, and countries are no exception to this. One country, in particular, is Turkey, with the Turks having many stereotypes and assumptions made about their people.
While straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia, Turkey hasn’t avoided this. With people assuming things such as all men have moustaches and that there are camels on every corner. Here are just some of Turkey’s most common incorrect stereotypes that the Turks are not fans of.
Although Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, there are still large parts of the country that are not. Turkey is a democratic republic, and there are equal parts of the country, which is liberal and conservative. Like many places, Turkey has a balanced mixture of Western and eastern, liberal and conservative, and even an equivalent amount of modern and traditional elements.
For example, in Istanbul, Balat is known for its many churches and synagogues, while Taksim and Cihangir are known for being livelier and more modern.
Crime happens all over the world, and it is always essential to have your common sense and be aware when at home and when visiting another country. The people who live in Turkey are welcoming and friendly, with many of them hospitable.
Although a small proportion of men working in Turkish resorts may prey on tourists, seeing them as an easy target isn’t something exclusive to Turkey. Many resort workers in high tourist areas purposefully seek a visa or money out of the tourists. These men, however, do not represent the country as a whole, and many Turkish men are reluctant to ask for money, and if they do, you should be wary.
While kebabs are food that Turks enjoy, it isn’t all they enjoy, and they aren’t the only meal they have. Turkey has an extensive range of recipes they serve, some even being inspired by the Ottoman era. Some of these include fresh fish, vegetarian dishes, sweet and savoury pastries.
Turkey is a bridge between Europe in Asia, having delicacies combined from European, Arabic and Ottoman inspiration.
An assumption made worse by television as Turkey doesn’t have any deserts, and the few camels around the country aren’t native to it. However, the only people who tend to ride camels in Turkey are tourists.
The Turkish language is part of the Turkic language family, rather than Arabic likely many think. Turkish is the descendant of Ottoman Turkish and is most alike other Turkic languages, including Azerbaijani, Uzbek and Kazakh.
Another harmful stereotype is that Turkish men can (and do) marry more than one woman, but actually this is illegal and can be punished with a prison sentence.
Like many countries that aren’t your own, the water may upset your stomach and taste different. However, Turkey’s water is perfectly safe to drink. It just happens to have higher mineral content.
Another untrue stereotype is how people perceive Turkey to be so conservative that Turkish women don’t have rights. Turkish women received civil rights in 1926, allowing them to elect and be elected. There is also a good proportion of women who work in bars and restaurants and get higher education, being equal with their male counterparts. Turkey, like many countries, still has elements of traditional behaviour, but this isn’t a reflection of the entire country.
Related to women again, but the perception that all women wear headscarves or burka’s is another assumption made by many when it comes to Turkey. Wearing a headscarf is not mandatory for women, with even some public buildings such as government buildings having forbidden headscarves.
You may find women in headscarves in more rural towns, but this is their choice and not something forced upon them.
With very little government help in Turkey, no one who lives there gets anything for free. The men, especially, are often thought of as lazy. However, they all have strong work ethics and work long hours in whatever field they choose. Turkey doesn’t have a real benefit system, and while higher-paid jobs may work fewer hours, Turkish people’s overall work ethic is the opposite of laziness.
This assumption likely comes from those who vacation in Turkey and communicate with resort staff from small villages. However, it is compulsory for 6 to 18-year-olds to attend education, and Turkey also has over 150 universities in Turkey, with both men and women graduating each year.
While Turkey doesn’t have a Hollywood budget, not all movies made in Turkey are just cheap remakes of original movies. With the era called Yeşilçam, where directions didn’t have the resources but to make low-budget, firmly in the past with the industry growing and several Turkish films winning international awards.
Another stereotype aimed at Turkey’s men, with many from around the world, assumes Turkish men are possessive. Men, and women, can be possessive or protective of their partner no matter where they are from. Similarly to the UK, there will be men more protective than others, but this isn’t an assumption or a characteristic of all Turkish men and one that many, within reason, find upsetting.
Similar to the assumption that all men have moustaches, this is another untrue stereotype. These once banned hats in 1925 by the country’s first President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk have long since become a visual stereotype of the country. However, it isn’t a standard piece of attire that many Turks wear.
Turkey is a friendly and beautiful country to visit, with a lot of culture. There will always be a lot more to a country than the assumptions, stereotypes, and what we hear, but it’s important to remember they are just that: assumptions. There are good and bad to every place you visit. One thing is for sure, Turkey is a welcoming country with plenty of excellent, generous people, a solid mix of traditional and modern, which is why this diverse country has so much to offer for all visitors and why it’s one of the most travelled to in Europe.