Antalya’s first-ever Christmas market was organized by the Alanya Municipality Foreigners Assembly on Sunday.
The market was set up on İskele Street in the southern town of Alanya, a famous tourist destination, on Sunday. Turkish and foreign residents of the district celebrated the Christmas holidays together as Christmas shows accompanied by Christmas music were held during the market. Santa Claus even flew down from Finland to give children presents.
Food, beverages, clothing and souvenirs from 10 countries were on display in the market’s booths. Foreign representatives of civil society organizations from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Russia and Poland attended the market.
Alanya Municipality Foreigners Assembly head Abdullah Karaoğlu said the town is a model for the world with the cultural and religious tolerance it is home to. Karaoğlu said they planned the event to help Alanya’s foreign residents celebrate Christmas.
“Here we celebrate their holiday by gathering all foreign civil society organizations [in the town]. They also visited us and celebrated our Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha festivals. They even sacrificed animals [for Eid al-Adha]. They even fasted [during Ramadan]. This is an exemplary situation for the world. This is exactly what we call integration. This is tolerance,” he said. The music was temporarily turned off when the ezan (Muslim call to prayer) started. “As you see, they respect our religious beliefs, too,” Karaoğlu said.
Karaoğlu also noted that there are more than 10,000 foreign residents from 75 countries living in Alanya, while more than 30,000 foreigners stay in the town periodically.