For John, BLUF: Being safe abroad.
Ethnic tensions exist across the Globe. Sometimes when we travel abroad we are not aware of the problems and the triggers. Thus, the US Department of State has a "Smart Traveler Enrollment Program" (it being the Government, there is an acronym, STEP). Enrolling in STEP is not a bad idea. Below is an example from Turkey, a nation with a long, rich cultural heritage, including Ephesus, South of Izmir, on the Aegean Sea, where the Blessed Virgin Mary spent her last days on earth.
The U.S. Consulate General Istanbul alerts U.S. citizens to the upcoming Nevruz holiday (Kurdish New Year) occurring on Sunday, March 17, 2013.And, severe flooding in Podgorica (Montenegro) and Tirana, Albania.
On March 17, many in Turkey will observe Nevruz - a spring festival celebrating the beginning of spring. Public Nevruz observances typically involve celebration rallies and marches. The main celebration gathering area for Istanbul is expected to be in the Kazl?çe?me [Perhaps Kirazlıçeşme?] neighborhood of Zeytinburnu District. Although the celebrations are expected to be peaceful, the Turkish National Police have already taken proactive security measures to ensure public order is maintained throughout the city during the holiday celebration.
The Department of State recommends U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Turkey to be alert to the potential for violence, to avoid those areas where disturbances, demonstrations and large gatherings have occurred. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens and nationals traveling to or residing in Turkey enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens and nationals without Internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Enrolling allows you to receive updated information about areas abroad and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to contact you or your designated emergency contact in case of emergency.
Regards — Cliff