Turkish shopkeepers protest “night watchmen”

Some Turkish corner shop owners, previously known for their long hours, have begun shutting up shop at 10 p.m. in protest against growing numbers of night watchmen stopping and searching their customers, the Communist SoL news website said.

The night watchmen, an innovation first introduced to Istanbul in August 2017, are an armed force in the service of the state who patrol the streets of Turkey’s cities at night.

They were introduced to Ankara in June, and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu hired 10,000 more in July, quoting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as saying that “I want to hear the whistles of night watchmen while I am sleeping.”

From August 1 onwards, many corner shops in Ankara have said they will close at 10 p.m., the time at which alcohol sales officially end for the night.

The owners complained that their customers were becoming uncomfortable by being searched and made to show ID by the night watchmen, SoL said, and they felt that they were being put under surveillance by the men, who harassed corner shop staff they believed were selling alcohol out of hours.