A proposal to erect a “monument to tolerance” as a reaction against the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla attack carried out by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010 has sparked a discussion over the issue of place.
Erhan Boza, an İstanbul provincial council member from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), submitted the proposal to the council’s Culture and Arts Commission. According to Boza’s proposal, the monument will represent the tolerance shown by the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic towards different faiths. After the proposal had been approved by the commission, Boza suggested the monument be erected in the place of the soon-to-be demolished building of the provincial council, which is located on the same street in İstanbul as the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı). The location was unanimously approved by the council. The İstanbul Provincial Directorate of Culture, a consulting institution in the issue, presented its opinion over the matter, and officials said that erecting a monument is fine but that the location must be changed. İstanbul Provincial Director Ahmet Emre Bilgili said the council building is being demolished because it is placing stress the cistern and higher authorities will not permit the construction of the monument on that particular site. The street on which Yerebatan Sarnıcı is located has recently been closed to traffic in order to protect the cistern.