Every country has its well-known stereotypes and Turkey definitely has its fair share of faulty assumptions when it comes to its culture and traditions. From men with moustaches that only wear Fez hats to the exaggerated notion of its conservative values, here are some common stereotypes that all Turks are not so fond of.

Turkey is a Very Conservative Country

It’s true that Turkey is a mostly Muslim country with a lot of very conservative people, however, like the dual nature of all things, Turkey also has a lot of very liberal people. For example, in Istanbul, some neighbourhoods like Fatih are very conservative, while others like Galata or Arnavutköy are full of trendy bars, restaurants, and art galleries. Similarly, cities in the inland regions are relatively conservative, while the coastal regions are mostly liberal (especially Izmir). What’s true about Turkey is that it’s a mixture of everything, western and eastern, modern and traditional, liberal and conservative, so focusing solely on one section of the population is not fair.

Woman in a burqa | © Moyan Brenn/Flickr
Woman in a burqa | © Moyan Brenn/Flickr

Turkish Cuisine Consists Mainly of Kebab

This is one of the most offensive stereotypes for many Turks because of their love for Turkish cuisine and its multitudinous dishes. Turkey has many different regions all of which have their own variety of ingredients (due to geography) and cuisines as a consequence. As such, the richness of the Turkish kitchen is undeniable and it’s narrow-minded to ignore all that and focus on the kebab. Yes, the kebab in Turkey is excellent, but there’s also a whole world of meze varieties, fresh fish, vegetable dishes, desserts, sweet and savoury pastries, soups, and roasts plus we haven’t even mentioned the myriad of recipes that were developed in the imperial Ottoman kitchens…

Turkish Food | © Matt@PEK/Flickr
Turkish Food | © [email protected]/Flickr

Turks Ride Camels

We’re not sure where this stereotype came from but nearly as ridiculous as saying that Australians ride kangaroos. It’s actually tourists that ride camels in Turkey as a fun attraction is some regions, but we can definitely say that camels are not a popular form of transportation. Turkey doesn’t have deserts and so the few camels that are around are not native to the country. However, there is one interesting camel-centric event that takes place every year and that’s the camel wrestling league. Yes, the camel wrestling spectacle does travel through many villages every year from November until March.

Camels | © Neptunecloud/Flickr
Camels | © Neptunecloud/Flickr

Turkish Films are Just Cheap Remakes of Hollywood Movies

Ok, so this stereotype is partially true because there was a time when Turkey was making very cheap remakes of Hollywood films. This particular era of Turkish cinema was called Yeşilçam, and directors, who didn’t have the resources (financially or materially) had no choice but to make low-budget remakes of Hollywood films in order to make a living. The results are truly legendary Turkish versions of many films from Star Wars to E.T., and much more, which have become cult classics. However, to say that Turkish directors haven’t accomplished anything since, is quite insulting, because the Turkish film industry has grown considerably since the Yeşilçam days. We’re talking about directors such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Fatih Akın, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, and Ferzan Özpetek whose films have won international awards and placed Turkish cinema on the world map.
‘Winter Sleep’ Nuri Bilge Ceylan/ Zeynofilm, Bredok Filmproduction, Memento Films Production

‘Winter Sleep’ Nuri Bilge Ceylan | © Zeynofilm, Bredok Film production, Memento Films Production
‘Winter Sleep’ Nuri Bilge Ceylan | © Zeynofilm, Bredok Film production, Memento Films Production
Text by : Feride Yalav-Heckeroth / Tribe Culture
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  1. Turkey is more liberal than most of other European countries. People should search about something to have an idea on it.. Turkey is the first country in Europe to apply women rights (Yes, Turkish women were already voting before countries like Switzerland) Secularism is fundamental principle of Turkish constitution.. Go and enjoy Turkey!

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