British Consulate, Istanbul

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Nervous Diplomacy

“Dur!” (Stop!) the cop said as I snapped this photo.

You see him (the one on the right) looking at me, walking toward me. This was during my trip in March, 2003, and security was tight at diplomatic posts—particularly US and British—because of the pending invasion of Iraq by US and British troops.

The police officer’s concern was well-founded.

On November 20, 2003, an Al-Qaeda car bomb exploded very near where we had been standing, killing a score of people and injuring hundreds in this closely packed neighborhood.

The consulate building, designed (1845) in Italian Renaissance style by Sir Charles Barry, architect of London’s Houses of Parliament, was badly damaged along with dozens of nearby buildings. What you see above is the original design as it was before the bombing.

All has been repaired now: the consulate’s structure and systems received much-needed updates, and a new, high, forbidding wall has been built to deter future disasters.

But people’s lives and limbs have been lost from the senseless terrorist attack.

Something to consider: this attack did nothing to change the course of history, whereas Gandhi got the British Empire out of India by non-violentprotest.

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