ISTANBUL — After a ban of alcohol sales past 10 p.m. triggered anti-government rallies in Turkey, demonstrators in Taksim Square have picked up an unusual ally, as American frat boys have descended upon the Turkish capital to join their efforts.
“Look, we’re not going to turn away anyone who wants to help us,” said Bora Ekrem, an organizer of the demonstrations against what many see as an increasingly authoritarian and Islamist government. “But these guys just showed up in something called a ‘party bus,’ wearing backward baseball caps and T-shirts that say ‘MENACE II SOBRIETY.’ I don’t think they know what they are getting themselves into.”
While many see the protests as part of a larger struggle for Turkish identity as it tries to maintain a delicate balance as a conduit between Middle Eastern and Western cultures in the modern world, the American frat boys – many of whom had been traveling through Europe on a EuroRail pass when the demonstrations broke out two weeks ago – seem to be exclusively focused on the alcohol restriction.
“Listen Bro-hommaed,” said Chip Randall, president of the Duke University chapter of the Chi Omega fraternity, in a message directed toward Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “If we sit silently by while some tyrant outlaws late-night beer runs, where will it stop? Tailgating at football games? Kegs and eggs? Penny Pitchers Till You Puke night? The brothers of Chi O, Kappa Sig, and Fiji [Phi Gamma] will not rest until our fellow brahs can party without their buzz being harshed.”
When asked why the Turkish government should take seriously the demands of frat boys, Randall fired back. “It’s not a frat – it’s a fraternity,” he said angrily. “You wouldn’t call your mother a ‘muth.’ You wouldn’t call your country a cu – .” He was interrupted by a spontaneous anti-government chant.
Some of the protesters don’t see any issue with the brothers encroaching on their international-headline grabbing rallies. “Eh, they’re really not hurting anyone,” said Atom Dragarna, another demonstrator. “They’re just doing keg stands, listening to Dave Mathews, and playing something called ‘cornhole.’
“But I wish they’d stop telling us to get up, stand up for our rights,” added Dragarna. “We’ve got Bob Marley over here too.”
Erdogan has called for an end to the protests within 24 hours and cautioned the demonstrators of the fraternity brothers’ real intentions. “The last time there were this many members of ‘Greek life’ here in Turkey,” he warned, “they were in a large wooden horse.”