Murder in Turkey Strikes Close to Home
It was a note on my daughter's Facebook page asking for prayers for Sarai Sierra, the young mother of two, then missing for a week traveling alone in Turkey, that made me wonder if my daughter knew her. Sarai Sierra's battered body was discovered near a highway in Istanbul, last weekend.
When the story first broke in the news, I was under the impression that she was a Muslim-American so I was surprised when I learned she was Hispanic. I was even more shocked when I saw her picture after she was found murdered in Istanbul for I recognized her as a girl who grew up with my children. In fact I also knew quite well the woman who was supposed to have traveled with Sarai but had to back out due to finances.
When I first read my daughter's Facebook note, I texted her that I was glad I had gone to Tangiers when I was young and the world was different, because I would never recommend a woman traveling to a Muslim country alone in these times.
It was 1969 when I took a ferry from Malaga to Tangiers. I worked for an airline so travel was virtually free and I liked travelling alone rather than going tourist. I sought out Morocco because I thought it was an exotic locale and it certainly lived up to my expectations. This trip ranks as my most exciting and interesting and included trips to a Sultan's palace, a belly dance emporium, a visit from Berber Arabs in a café playing what looked like steel drums, dancing at a nightclub where I was the only female, a late visit to a bakery at 2 am and giant roaches in the hotel. I was only there overnight but I still have the silver, bronze and copper tray I bought in a tourist trap.
At the time I found the Moroccans to be sociable, sophisticated and very friendly, although there were areas like the Kasbah that resembled a scene straight out of the biblical era. As an American tourist I was treated with respect, but those days are long gone. I wish I had remained close to Sarai and her friend Magdalena so I could have warned them to leave Turkey out of their travel plans.
I realize that the Turkish government is considered moderate, but that does not mean it has control over the extremist Wahhabbi sect which has little regard for independent women. Although there had been attacks on Americans before 9/11, it was that event that emboldened the radical Islamists and the growing Sharia influence in Europe should have opened our eyes to this hatred against all of our women. It's a hatred that feminist groups continue to ignore while they instead target the GOP and the pro-life organizations.
We should boycott any Muslim controlled country that does not welcome tourists and keeps them safe -- which means all of them. Perhaps if enough Americans stay home, the so-called moderate nations will rein in the animals in their midst. Even if not, lives would be saved.
It is very painful to see the nasty comments posted on news articles about Sarai, a young mother of two, calling her selfish and stupid for abandoning her children to go on a photographic jaunt. Now stories are coming out trying to tarnish her motives for going to Turkey to begin with. These are the times when I loathe being part of the media that has become as bad as the tabloid paparazzi climbing over one another to be first with the dirt.
All I can think of is that this sweet young mother is dead, and I don't care whether her death came from an unwise decision or if some intrigue was involved. I know that I was very, very lucky in 1969 and at the time I took some dangerous chances as well. I will always remember the young Sarai and her sister walking with their Mom along Van Duzer, always beautifully dressed and coifed. My deepest sympathy for her family.