"Izmir. City of giaours" - Marcelina Szumer-Brysz

Izmir, formerly known as Smyrna, is considered one of the most egalitarian and free cities in Turkey, although some of the residents still find it difficult to abandon traditional values. In this “city of heathens” well-stocked sex shops are as prosperous as religious bookshops. However, zealous Muslims should only frequent the sex shops marked as halal because they don’t give access to “unclean” things like alcohol-based perfumes. Despite actively fighting for their rights, women still face ostracism after divorce, while mystic shows of whirling dervishes are organised in shopping centres.
Having lived in the city, Marcelina Szumer-Brysz is a wonderful guide through this lively place. Roaming Izmir streets, she talks to a professor teaching young people maths in an exceptional village near the city, a Turkish girl playing in a local football club, and fortune-tellers reading coffee grounds and not minding that this is considered a sin. The author tells us also about Izmir’s rich history which is proudly presented in popular TV shows and which is crucial to understanding the present day in Izmir – the city that still attracts and hypnotises with its multitude of colours.


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