Taksim: What’s in a name?

With all the talk about the Taksim protests and the way in which they lay bare the deepening divisions inside Turkey (and in the protest movement itself, as was argued earlier on this blog) it is remarkable that there has been little mention of Taksim’s etymological origin. For, ironically, the word “Taksim” is derived from the Arabic root “qasama” which means “to divide”. In Turkish, as well as in Arabic Taksim thus translates as “Division Square”, a designation wholly different from Egypt’s “Liberation Square” the world came to know two years back.  

By the way, an easy search on your favourite search engine will teach you that the name “Taksim” dates back to the time when the water lines supplying Istanbul’s citizens branched off from the main northern supply line — dividing/distributing the water. Of course, these days the Taksim area is again associated with Istanbul’s water supply, albeit in a way that is not doing any service to the people of Istanbul. 

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