Sultanbeyli, located on the outskirts of the city, is surrendered by Kartal, Sancaktepe and Pendik districts. Sultanbeyli was only a village before 1980s and definitely majority of the residents of Istanbul had no idea about it. Necmettin Erbakan – Islamism leader – had summer resort in Sultanbeyli. After 1980s, pious families immigrated to Sultanbeyli after hearing that Islamic famous souls had already moved to the area. On the other hand, many peasants came to the district with the hope of finding cheap houses which afterwards they were successful. The population which was not more than 400 before 1985 increased to 80,000 in 1989 and now it’s around 300,000.
After interactions between piouses and rural immigrants, under the effect and control of famous Islamists souls, peasants also became a voters of the Islamist party. In time, they became pious too. Finally, a small village of Istanbul, known by nobody, transformed into an urban district with Islamic color although there wasn’t any dominant political or religion’s color before 1980s. If you walk around the district, you’ll see superabundant mosques. Name of streets and neighborhoods have Islamic colors too. Necip Fazıl Mahallesi (name of Islamic poet, writer), Ahmet Yesevi Mahallesi (Sufi and poet), Yavuz Selim Mahallesi (Sultan massacred Alevis) are some neighborhoods of the district.
Residents of Sultanbeyli, under hegemony of Islamism, suffered from basic urban amenities such as running water, sewage system and paved roads. Furthermore, lack of connection with the highway restrict discourages incoming business. Besides, local enterprises were not enough. Consequently, many adult men worked in constructions outside of the district. When adult men couldn’t earn enough, youngsters started to work although it was school age for them. Position of women in the social life was enough to drive feminists crazy. It’s not really different from Afghanistan or Iran. Violence against women, forbidding girls to go to school, early marriage were the main problems.
What about now? It isn’t different than before at all. Ignorance is still on the air of Sultanbeyli and it seems like invisible power would love to leave them to be illiterate. As long as residents are illiterate, Islamic parties can put Muslim arguments and get the votes easily. That sounds crazy but is there any other explanation? Does it look like invisible power is trying to illuminate? If yes, let us know because none of us has been in Sultanbeyli for 2 weeks.
Photo Credits: Sultanbeyli Municipality