Turkey: Gallery Attack Ignites Debate, Questions Remain

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ISTANBUL (AP).- The gang of several dozen men with sticks and pepper spray moved methodically from one art gallery to the next, assaulting overflow crowds that had spilled into the streets during the joint opening of several exhibitions in the center of Istanbul. “You don’t want us, so we don’t want you,” Nazim Hikmet Richard Dikbas, an artist, recalled one of the assailants saying. Hikmet was struck on the head with a club, and received several stitches at a hospital for a hairline injury. Half a dozen suspects were detained in last week’s brazen attack, which has yet to be fully explained. Such outbursts of mob rage are rare and Istanbul has a relatively low rate of violent crime, but the gallery beatings highlighted Turkey’s struggle to reconcile sharp differences in a society marked by extremes of rich and poor, modern and traditional, secular and Islamic, democratic and authoritarian. Once shackled by crisis and conflict, Turkey has emerged as