High hopes for Turkey?
Asalamu alaykum wr wb
I am left feeling a bit tired after spending last night playing basketball in the sports hall with a few brothers, but inshaAllah should be okay shortly. Yes its the story of my life again. Before playing basketball I took off my jumper and placed it by the side, only to come back and not find it. I looked everywhere and at this point my blood was boiling. I felt like an idiot shouting out as I walked around the hall, “Has anybody seen a green Jumper”? As I gave up I thought I would try one last person who is a member that joined us from Belgium. Finally I found the culprit. He also had exactly the same jumper and had mistaken it for his, at least it wasn’t my fault. Phew! So here is where we slept, in the sports hall.
This morning we left Thissaloniki after fajr (dawn prayer) and headed towards the last city before the Greek-Turkish border, called Alexandroupolis, (I hope I have spelt that correctly). The plan according to the organisers is not to enter Turkey today, but rather to stay another day in Greece, for what reason, I do not know.
Me and my co-drivers were mentioning a few minutes ago that so far Greece has been the nicest, in terms of the people, history and scenery.
Many people are expecting Turkey to be very welcoming, I am sure the people will be, but I am not too sure about the authorities. It’s very easy for these countries to make it look as if they are being hospitable, as they publish photos in the press and have footage of them greeting us and providing food and accommodation. This is how it was on the last convoy when passing through North Africa. What was apparent on the media, was that they were supporting and being hospitable by escorting us everywhere, where in reality it was a means of keeping tabs on us. Being free to travel where we wanted, so we could eat and stop off where and how we wanted is all we wanted, not their food or hotels.
One specific incident in Tunisia that shows their true colours, was when we entered the country at the border, there was a governor or mayor handing us nice looking parcels while a professional photographer was taking pictures so that it may be published in the media. Although the box only contained a drink, an apple and a pack of cous cous, to most people it looked like the government was supporting the cause and that they were playing their part in helping the Muslims in Palestine. Some may argue that you should be thankful, which may be the case, but I would rather that they take back their ‘hospitality’ and allow us to be free to travel where we want and not chaperone us everywhere.
By permitting us to travel freely, we would not need their hand outs. They would often take us on long diversions, not permitting us to enter major cities as a convoy, as if they feared some type of reaction from the people. One thing that should be mentioned is that despite the suppression of these governments towards the people in these countries, the public always supported us and managed to meet us on the streets. The Tunisian government were so adamant on the people not receiving us that they banned them from coming out of their house for three days. They even banned us praying Jumua (Friday prayer) in the mosque so we ended up praying in the street. InshaAllah I am sure the people of Turkey are with us, as for the government, then we will see and I will get back to you on that.
On route to the final destination our group decided to stop off in a small Greek town called Iamos, which had a large Turkish population. Here we stopped off, prayed in a local Mosque and had some Halal food. What a relief. After prayer we noticed one of our group members by the name of Peter, who is not a Muslim, had prayed with us, so we took the opportunity to invite him to Islam, and spent about 30 mins giving him da’wah. May Allah guide him to Islam.
Shortly after we ate in a local Turkish shop, we squeezed in a quick cup of coffee on the camping cooker and then resumed our Journey towards our destination. At about 6 o’clock we arrived at our destination, a camp site in Alexandroupolis, the last city before Turkey, which is about 45 kM from the border. After we prayed Maghrib (Dusk prayer) and settled down in the camp site some of us made a trip to the town center to grab a bite to eat, as for me, to see if I can find an Internet cafe. Tomorrow, I have to go and find some lip balm, as my toiletries went missing and my lips are cracking due to the cold. However I did buy one yesterday, only to realise it’s for protection from the sun. That’s what happens when you don’t read the label.
Apparently, it is meant to snow tonight so its going to be a cold night, especially since we are camping by the beach!
Salam alaykum wr wb