Magazine article New Internationalist

Battling for Green Space

Magazine article New Internationalist

Battling for Green Space

Article excerpt

One of Istanbul's few remaining green spaces is in danger of being gobbled up, according to environmental activists. In late October the Üsküdar Municipality began construction of a mosque complex in a parking lot just outside the protected Validebag Grove, home to over 7,000 trees, several historical buildings and about 120 species of migratory birds.

Activists are wary of the government's rapid and often environmentally destructive 'urban transformation' projects. About 100 people have been holding a non-stop vigil since policeescorted bulldozers started excavating without legal permission on 21 October. 'Keep it as it is,' pleads Onur Akgül, an activist with Northern Forests Defence. 'Let us walk there. Let the birds sing. Let us have a life integrated with nature.'

The campaigners say large, controversial development projects often start with seemingly benign mosques. 'A mosque is a key to get into difficult areas,' says Can Atalay, a lawyer with the Chamber of Architects. …

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