Wednesday, 6 October 2010

I nearly got arrested

My friend Rukiye loves pickles. We stopped in a village on our way to the Black Sea, and Rukiye loaded up with pickles - there are whole shops that sell just pickles. They pickle all sort of fruits and vegetables.

If you look closely, you can see that the two big jars on the far right in the photo below are full of pickled melon.
A neat old house next to a very typical Ottoman masjid.

A run down old wooden house which I found interesting.

I went back to the pickle shop to find out if Rukiye was finished (she wasn't). Moments later, the little shop filled up with police officers wearing green uniforms and carrying very large guns. Rukiye and I were escorted to the police station and went before the commandant to explain why I had been taking pictures. The commandant's smoky office filled up with police officers arguing loudly in Turkish. I don't speak that much Turkish and none of the police officers could speak English or Arabic, and I was having a hard time communicating why I was photographing pickles. I found out later that photography was prohibited in that neighbourhood, because there was a police station nearby, although there were no signs or notices about it.  Everyone there already knew.

I suppose that the commandant eventually decided I was just a clueless tourist, because they released us. They didn't even delete the pictures. The commandant found out that he and Rukiye were from the same village, and they had a long chat, none of which I understood. She told me later that he invited her to his house for tea, rather more forcefully than she found comfortable, and she had a difficult time avoiding it.

I was afraid I had gotten Rukiye into trouble, and felt terrible for inconveniencing her. She thought it was all a great joke, and told everyone we know how I'd nearly gotten arrested. I'm told that's not at all unusual in Turkey, or in Jordan. Rukiye was taking pictures of ordinary touristy stuff in Zarqa, and was taken to the police station to explain what she had been doing.

I have to wonder, don't the police have anything better to do that take tourists in for questioning about why they were taking photos? That's what tourists do, they photograph everything in sight. There are a lot of police officers, and they monitor everything, perhaps they don't have anything better to do, but it seems like a waste of time to me.

Oh well, I'm just glad I didn't get arrested, or get Rukiye into trouble.


  1. LoL, we had similar experience in Sri Lanka when my husband was taking pictures of things close to a parliament if I remember correctly.
    Inshallah we are planning to go to Turkey next month and all this is kinda scares me :S

  2. Moon: I don't think you need to be scared, although I see why you might be after reading what I wrote. I've spent nearly two months in Turkey, taken hundreds of pictures, and only had trouble once.

    I hope you have an excellent time in Turkey, it is a very beautiful country, and tell us all about your trip (if you want to). Insha'Allah you will not have any problems.

  3. Inshallah I will .. We'll be around istanbul and the close region, but we don't know we might change our plans.
    how's the weather, I cant tolerate too much cold, is it really cold there now..?

  4. It feels cold after the summer heat in Jordan, but it's not really that cold. The high today was 15 Celsius, but it rained most of the day, so bring a raincoat if you have one, and warm clothing. The weather in Istanbul changes a lot.

  5. LOL @ that. L was taking pictures near the embassy of the sign that says don't take pictures. Alhamdulilah no one arrested us for that. Yeah, though, if they do question one , the police always seem to invite one to their house for coffee or tea:p yuck.

  6. .... I dislike police stations in most countries. I think we have all had or far share of "interesting experiences". All I gota say is at least she got out with just a tea invite, odder invitations have been given to me lol. and yes I took pics on the no pic sings in muscat :P