Stratford man feels safe in Turkish city where bombing took place

Jim Day
Published on February 23, 2016

Ryan MacRae, a native of Stratford, is pictured inside a cathedral in Istanbul. He was in Ankara last week when a bombing killed 28 people in the Turkish capital, but fortunately he was not near the scene of the explosion.



An Islander living in Ankara where a bombing killed 28 people last week feels both calm and safe about continuing to live in this Turkish capital.

The deadly explosion occurred while Stratford native Ryan MacRae, 20, was on campus at Bilking University in Ankara where the economics student is spending a semester studying.

Some of his peers reported being able to hear the blast on campus.

"My immediate reaction was shock, but I never once felt concerned for my own well-being and haven't felt such a way since I've arrived in Turkey,'' he told The Guardian in an email.

MacRae says he typically spends his free time exploring the city of Ankara; fortunately, at the time of the explosion he was still on campus.

"The explosion took place in the political region of Kizilay, a common area filled with restaurants, bars and shops, where students and locals spend a lot of time,'' he says.

The immediate reaction of the international centre at Bilket was to inform all students of the event and to confirm everyone's safety, notes MacRae.

"The school cut bus service to the Kizilay area until further notice.

"My Turkish friend seemed eerily calm when he first informed me of the explosion, however I don't think this was due to any numb feeling of terror in his city (this had only been the second attack in a number of years), but likely due to the fact he realized it wasn't meant to be a scare to civilians,'' he says.

The little-known Kurdistan Freedom Falcons claimed responsibility Friday for the bombing. Turkey's prime minister had previously laid the blame for the bombing at the door of a Syrian-Kurdish militia.

MacRae believes the attack was not meant to be a scare to civilians but a warning to the government.

"I still feel remarkably safe in the city and plan to stay travelling in Turkey after my semester ends in May,'' he says.

"I think it is very important to note that Ankara is a beautiful city in a wonderful country, and the Turkish culture is a welcoming one. By times I feel as if the image of Turkey is tainted by such events, but there is so much more to the country than just what you read in a headline. As we have seen in Paris in November, terror knows no geographical boundaries, and Ankara is as beautiful a city as it always has been.''