I have been getting messages from people concerned about my safety, given the protests and violence in Egypt, Tunisia, etc. So this seems like a good time to explain why Turkey is different. Turkish democracy is not perfect but it is a real democracy - unlike those other places which have been living under dictatorships. Conservatives are in power, which does cause concern among liberals within Turkey and observers from outside the country. (Arguably, this is not so different from the Bush years in the U.S.) The concept of a secular democracy is well established in Turkey, not just in the cities, but in the countryside as well. Turkey does not have as much freedom of speech as we do in the West, and around election times the governing parties tend to do things like giving refrigerators to poor voters. However, citizens do have genuine choice in elections and their votes do count. Even more importantly, upward mobility is very possible for people who work hard here. In Turkey, plenty of successful people come from poor families, whereas this is MUCH more difficult in places like Egypt and Tunisia. Finally, although Turkey is a Muslim country, it is not an Arab country, and for that reason most people here don’t particularly identify with Arabs. I have seen no indication that the violence currently erupting in middle eastern countries will spread to Turkey.