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Poopgate: Is Beloved Istanbul Street Dog Caught In Turkey’s Political Dirty Tricks?

Boji the dog was giving a good image to Istanbul's public transportation system. Some wonder if opponents of the mayor exercised the canine nuclear option...

Poopgate: Is Beloved Istanbul Street Dog Caught In Turkey’s Political Dirty Tricks?

The innocent Boji rides public transportation in Istanbul

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Boji, a street dog in Istanbul, has garnered national and international acclaim in recent weeks for his ability to navigate the Turkish megapolis all on his own — commuting on the metro, riding ferries and even taking elevators.

According to Getty Images photographer Chris McGrath, who followed him around the city, Boji loves riding the city's trams and trains. The dog's name comes from the word "bogie" ("boji" in Turkish), the framework of a vehicle that houses the wheel and axle, since his favorite spot is sitting on top of the bogie and feeling the vibrations of the engine.


City workers began to take care of Boji and track his movements with a mobile app; and a local dog instructor, Ali Yeşilırmak, set up social media accounts that quickly built major followings, with some reporting that even Istanbul's mayor is a fan.

Awwws to ewwws

But this past Friday evening, the mixed-breed canine was suddenly turned into public (transportation) enemy No. 1 after he was blamed for defecating inside one of the city's trams. On social media, a photo of a turd on a seat went viral, with Boji accused of the crime, reports local daily Hürriyet.

But just hours later, another plot twist was in store: The spokesperson of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality shared a security camera video from the tram in question, showing a bald man in a sweatshirt taking the piece of poop out of his pocket (yes, gross…) and planting it on the seat. Yeşilırmak also tweeted an alibi to the pooch's 100K+ followers: Boji had been hanging out at the shelter that day.

Here's a good Boji


Why would someone choose to slander man's best friend? The answer might just be politics.

Bilge Ebiri, a journalist and filmmaker, tweeted that Boji has become an unofficial mascot for Istanbul and its mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, a center-left politician, who is seen by many as the strongest rival to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his conservative Justice and Development Party.

Was poopgate the ultimate political stinkbomb to make both Boji and Istanbul look bad?

While Boji's Instagram says that he is still waiting for an apology, he seems to have taken the incident in stride, with little damage to his reputation. Anyway, he has a train to catch.


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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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