Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/6/2013 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ceyda Sungur is a better symbol for women.

An unwitting woman has become the symbol of resistance in Turkey and an icon for women across the Middle East. Dubbed the "Woman in Red," a photographer captured her standing, apparently calmly, as she is violently pepper sprayed.

Ceyda Sungur calmly withstanding attack by an officer with pepper spray.

Ceyda Sungur calmly withstanding attack by an officer with pepper spray.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/6/2013 (10 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Ceyda Sungur, Turkey, pepper spray, feminism, resistance, symbol, picture, red dress


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The world knows her as "The Woman in Red" but her real name is Ceyda Sungur. Walking amongst protesters in Istanbul's Taksim Square, the last green space in the city, she found herself near the police line.

Wearing a red dress and necklace, Sungur was suddenly and violently pepper sprayed by a police officer. The jet of spray was so intense it blew her hair upwards. Unable to do anything but turn away, she took the blast to her head and neck.

Several photos captured the moment of her spraying, but one in particular has gone viral, depicting her standing, calmly and peacefully just taking the force of the blast. She is unarmed and doing nothing to protect herself as the blast to her face blows her hair upwards.

The image is so compelling it has been adopted as an icon of the movement. Sungur objects to being used as such, and has told reporters the movement isn't about her. However, the image is so powerful that it is resonating with women around the world.

A student named Esra told Reuters, "That photo encapsulates the essence of this protest. The violence of the police against peaceful protesters, people just trying to protect themselves and what they value."

Egyptian blogger, "Zeinobia" tweeted ""The woman in red in Turkey, I wish to wear such dress in downtown Cairo without fear, without protests, without sexual harassment."

Although Sungur is uncomfortable with her surprising fame, her image of standing calmly while being attacked by police, is powerful on many levels. It serves naturally, as an icon of the protests. Turkish youth are protesting plans to develop the last green space in Istanbul.

Police have been sent to clear the park, but students have refused to leave and clashes have erupted between them and police. Students are also calling on Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to resign.

Erdogan has apologized for what he calls "excessive force" used by the police.

However, the image has more resonance across the Middle East where woman are treated as second class citizens. Sungur isn't provocatively dressed or posed, as some radical women have been across the Middle East in recent months. Bare-chested women have been appearing on social media in the Middle East with feminist messages written across their chests, protesting the dominant culture of Islamic misogyny.

However, Sungur isn't posing as a radical feminist. Instead, her modesty and calmness stands in profound contrast to that of radical women across the Middle East. As such, her image is likely more powerful. Modest and calm, the image is a far better icon of the struggle women face across the Middle East.

Islamic women in the Middle East daily contend with living in a male-dominated society, where they can be treated as property, are denied advanced education, and can face violence including assaults, rapes, and murder for minor infractions.

These problems are not uniform across the Islamic world, and Turkey is remarkably progressive. However, in more conservative Islamic states, her image is one of courage, moderation, and inspires hope.

Sungur told Turkey's TV 24, "There are a lot of people who were at the park and they were also tear-gassed," she said. "There is not (a) difference between them and I," buts he is wrong. There is a difference, her struggle was captured at the right instant.

She may reject becoming an icon of the movement, but movements are propelled by unscripted moments of profundity captured in images and lore. Those involved often have as much chance to dodge the bullet of fame as they are the pepper spray.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2014
Ecology and Justice:
That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick: That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.



Comments


More Middle East

Palestinian Christians prevented from Easter pilgrimage to Jerusalem since 1967 Watch

Image of Israel issues some permits to both Christians and Muslims during religious holidays, but this can be a lengthy and bureaucratic process. Permits are usually issued to older, married Palestinians.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Palestinian Christians feel the sting of segregation acutely during Holy Week. Strict, Israeli restrictions on movement prevents their access to holy sites in nearby Jerusalem. Many holy sites have remained out of reach in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since ... continue reading


BIGGEST IN THE WORLD: Saudi Arabia determined to build world's tallest building Watch

Image of High winds will also be a problem for this gargantuan building, so the tower will change shape regularly to counter it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Not be outdone, Saudi Arabia is vowing to build the world's tallest building. Said structure, called the Kingdom Tower, heads into construction next week. AT its height, 3,280 feet, it will eventually dwarf Dubai's Burj Khalifa, which stands at 2,716 feet, the ... continue reading


AL-QAEDA ALIVE: 'We must eliminate the cross ... The bearer of the cross is America!' Watch

Image of  In the video, the nefarious

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"This is quite an extraordinary video," terrorist experts Paul Cruickshank says. There's another word for it: absolutely horrifying. In the video, the nefarious "crown prince" of al-Qaeda, Nasir al-Wuhayshi is seen addressing a group of 100 like-minded ... continue reading


Suffering, dying in silence: Syrian Christians face arduous holy week Watch

Image of Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus says that Syrian Christians face a seemingly endless Way of the Cross, with many suffering and dying in silence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The assassination of Dutch Jesuit Fr. Frans van der Lugt, shot to death by an unknown assailant at his base in Homs, Syria on April 7 has cast a pall for the faithful here. Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus says that Syrian Christians face a ... continue reading


Asia Bibi remains in prison, reluctant officials hide behind bureaucracy Watch

Image of Asia Bibi remains in prison, judges unwilling to take up her case for fear of violence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman facing death for blasphemy in Pakistan still sits in a women's prison her case held up by deliberate delays and a reluctance of judges and others to hear her case. Officials are afraid that they will become targets of Islamic ... continue reading


Dutch priest beaten, killed at his Syrian monastery Watch

Image of Father Frans van der Lugt was described as a man of great courage who

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Dutch Jesuit priest, 75-year-old Frans van der Lugt was beaten and shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his monastery in Homs, Syria this week, the Vatican said. He had been living in Syria since the early Seventies. He's being described as man of great courage ... continue reading


Tunisian government strives to root out Islamist influence from Mosques Watch

Image of Tunisia's newly elected government, recognizing that one of the nation's chief sources of revenue is tourism, has wasted little time in quelling extremist factions there.

By Kaci Racelma (Algiers, Algeria)

Tunisian authorities, along with the Islamist party Ennahda had clashed on several levels for any months. The conflict was felt on all strata of Tunisian society. Violence roiled in the streets, to the universities, in places of worship and private homes. ... continue reading


Syrian refugees in Lebanon passes one million mark Watch

Image of U.N. staff in Lebanon register 2,500 new Syrian refugees every day, the UNHCR said.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Syria's devastating Civil War drags into its fourth year without an end in sight, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has officially passed the one million mark, the United Nations' refugee agency says. Syrian refugees now make up almost a quarter of ... continue reading


Meet Catholic Online's new Middle East correspondent Watch

Image of Kaci Racelma received his Bachelor of English literature in 1996. He has worked in the daily Algerian newspaper la Nouvelle République since 1998.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Journalist Kaci Racelma has joined the Catholic Online family as a much needed and vaunted Middle East correspondent to our international news desk. We welcome his wealth of experience in relaying breaking stories in this complex part of the world.  LOS ... continue reading


Authorities break up kiddie sex abuse ring, 17-year-old pimp and several men arrested Watch

Image of Several hundred women in Israel - many of them foreigners - are trafficked within the country annually for commercial sexual exploitation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Tel Aviv Police have arrested seven men in connection with a child molestation ring. An undercover investigation began after one of the purported victims came forward and told them about a number of girls who had sex with a group of adults in exchange for ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:11-26
11 Everyone came running towards them in great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 8:2, 5, 6-7, 8-9
2 even through the mouths of children, or of babes in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
35 Then they told their story of what had happened on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 24th, 2014 Image

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
April 24: Franciscan Capuchin martyr. He was born Mark Rey is Sigmaringen, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter