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Turkey and the Arab Spring

Marcus' Coffee House of Choice for a Reason




Like all junkies, Marcus has his preferred drug dealer in town to get his daily fix. That coffee shop that knows you by name and greets you with a friendly smile and warm coffee. In Doctrow’s “Little Brother,” the coffee house of choice carries with it a history and tradition larger than the cup of brew they serve. Marcus refers to the place as The Turk, as it is owned by a Turkish man who sells his native varietal of coffee. Soon after the terrorist attacks on San Francisco and the subsequent surveillance by the DHS does Marcus learn an important lesson about the current events. They are tracking credit card purchases.

"The security," he said, looking around his little shop with its tubs of dried beans and seeds, its shelves of Turkish groceries. "The government. They monitor it all now, it was in the papers. PATRIOT Act II, the Congress passed it yesterday. Now they can monitor every time you use your card. I say no. I say my shop will not help them spy on my customers. You think it's no big deal maybe? What is the problem with government knowing when you buy coffee? Because its one way they know where you are, where you been. Why you think I left Turkey? Where you have government always spying on the people, is no good. I move here twenty years ago for freedom ญญ I no help them take freedom away.”

Rather prophetically, the Arab Spring occurred two years after “Little Brother” was written. Amongst other grievances against the government, many Turks took to the streets in protest of censorship and monitoring of individuals through the internet. The revolution was won, however, through the ingenious use of Twitter and other social media sites to help organize and mobilize the protesters. The history of government surveillance on its citizens in Turkey is a warning for Marcus, and becomes his call to action.

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The Arab Spring in Turkey: A series of protests against authoritarian governments and human freedoms

Every time Marcus drinks a cup of Turkish coffee throughout the novel, it serves as a reminder both for him as well as for the reader of past events that took away individuals rights to freedom and what can happen when citizens become complacent. Rather fittingly is the fact that Turkish coffee has been used as a method of forecasting the future throughout the Arab world for centuries. A dim fortune for Marcus, but one that brings about change.