Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/6/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Ceyda Sungur is a better symbol for women.

An unwitting woman has become the symbol of resistance in Turkey and an icon for women across the Middle East. Dubbed the "Woman in Red," a photographer captured her standing, apparently calmly, as she is violently pepper sprayed.

Ceyda Sungur calmly withstanding attack by an officer with pepper spray.

Ceyda Sungur calmly withstanding attack by an officer with pepper spray.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

6/6/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Ceyda Sungur, Turkey, pepper spray, feminism, resistance, symbol, picture, red dress

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The world knows her as "The Woman in Red" but her real name is Ceyda Sungur. Walking amongst protesters in Istanbul's Taksim Square, the last green space in the city, she found herself near the police line.

Wearing a red dress and necklace, Sungur was suddenly and violently pepper sprayed by a police officer. The jet of spray was so intense it blew her hair upwards. Unable to do anything but turn away, she took the blast to her head and neck.

Several photos captured the moment of her spraying, but one in particular has gone viral, depicting her standing, calmly and peacefully just taking the force of the blast. She is unarmed and doing nothing to protect herself as the blast to her face blows her hair upwards.

The image is so compelling it has been adopted as an icon of the movement. Sungur objects to being used as such, and has told reporters the movement isn't about her. However, the image is so powerful that it is resonating with women around the world.

A student named Esra told Reuters, "That photo encapsulates the essence of this protest. The violence of the police against peaceful protesters, people just trying to protect themselves and what they value."

Egyptian blogger, "Zeinobia" tweeted ""The woman in red in Turkey, I wish to wear such dress in downtown Cairo without fear, without protests, without sexual harassment."

Although Sungur is uncomfortable with her surprising fame, her image of standing calmly while being attacked by police, is powerful on many levels. It serves naturally, as an icon of the protests. Turkish youth are protesting plans to develop the last green space in Istanbul.

Police have been sent to clear the park, but students have refused to leave and clashes have erupted between them and police. Students are also calling on Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to resign.

Erdogan has apologized for what he calls "excessive force" used by the police.

However, the image has more resonance across the Middle East where woman are treated as second class citizens. Sungur isn't provocatively dressed or posed, as some radical women have been across the Middle East in recent months. Bare-chested women have been appearing on social media in the Middle East with feminist messages written across their chests, protesting the dominant culture of Islamic misogyny.

However, Sungur isn't posing as a radical feminist. Instead, her modesty and calmness stands in profound contrast to that of radical women across the Middle East. As such, her image is likely more powerful. Modest and calm, the image is a far better icon of the struggle women face across the Middle East.

Islamic women in the Middle East daily contend with living in a male-dominated society, where they can be treated as property, are denied advanced education, and can face violence including assaults, rapes, and murder for minor infractions.

These problems are not uniform across the Islamic world, and Turkey is remarkably progressive. However, in more conservative Islamic states, her image is one of courage, moderation, and inspires hope.

Sungur told Turkey's TV 24, "There are a lot of people who were at the park and they were also tear-gassed," she said. "There is not (a) difference between them and I," buts he is wrong. There is a difference, her struggle was captured at the right instant.

She may reject becoming an icon of the movement, but movements are propelled by unscripted moments of profundity captured in images and lore. Those involved often have as much chance to dodge the bullet of fame as they are the pepper spray.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Middle East

Turkey Prime Minister focuses on ISIS for weekend bombing in Ankara (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES) Watch

Image of A woman cries over a victim.


A deadly bombing surprised Ankara, Turkey this weekend and though no group has stepped up to claim responsibility for the incident, Turkey's Prime Minister revealed investigation officials have set their sights on ISIS. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Saturday's ... continue reading

In light of Palestinian knife attacks, Israeli politicians call citizens to arm themselves Watch

Image of Israeli gun range (Caliber 3).


Following rampant Palestinian knife attacks against Israelis, local politicians have requested permit-holding gun owners to carry their weapons on their hips to help protect citizens against terrorists. The decision has been met with both acceptance and criticisms. LOS ... continue reading

U.S. halts Syrian rebel training: $500,000 program deemed a failure Watch

Image of U.S. soldier teaches Syrian rebel which way to hold his weapon (U.S. Army).


The United States has decided to halt the $500 million program to train moderate rebels and has been labeled a failure with only the successful release fewer than 80 soldiers, several of whom have fled, been killed, or have relinquished their weapons to ISIS. LOS ... continue reading

Atrocities of Syrian president's brutal regime told in thousands of photographs Watch

Image of Grisly pictures of men, women, children, and elderly civilians were shown at the United Nations headquarters in New York in March 2015.


Thousands upon thousands of photographs depicting the evil machinations of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime are now public. Prosecutors in Paris investigating al-Assad's crimes against humanity have seen 45,000 pictures taken by a photographer - going ... continue reading

Fat ISIS member called 'The Bulldozer' earns most feared executioner in ISIS Watch

Image of


The obese extremist jihadi executioner called "The Bulldozer" has beheaded unarmed men and amputated children as a member of the terror group's "Chopping Committee." The savage built a brutal reputation as one of ISIS's most horrendous executioners. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

Syrian Civil War: A Timeline Watch

Image of What started the Syrian conflict and how did the U.S. get involved? (Anwar Amro/AFP/Ghetty Images).


Syria gained the world's attention for its humanitarian crisis after killing at least 300,000 of its people and displacing more than 10 million due to its bloody civil war. Refugees are tossed and turned in and outside their war-torn country and other nations join in ... continue reading

Syrian Army initiates major offensive with Russian help Watch

Image of


Backed by Lebanon's Hezbollah and Russian air strikes, the Syrian army has recently announced a "vast offensive" against rebels, as NATO warns about Moscow's rising military activity in the country.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With the launch of the ... continue reading

Saudi teen to be beheaded for teaching first aid to demonstrators in times of protests Watch

Image of


A second teenager will be beheaded in Saudi Arabia for participating in protests. The teen's sentence was reported only a few days following teenager's conviction sparked international outcry.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dawoud al-Marhoon was only ... continue reading

China to join Russian forces in the battle against ISIS Watch

Image of China joins forces with Russia to eradicate ISIS threats (AFP).


China is allegedly preparing to unleash its military forces in Syria and join forces with Vladimir Putin's army to destroy ISIS. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Russia has carried out a series of destructive and deadly airstrikes against the terrorist nation IS ... continue reading

Violence increases in Jerusalem's Old City as tensions between Palestinians and Israelis rise Watch

Image of Palestinian/Israeli tensions continue to rise (AP).


An 18-year-old Palestinian woman was allegedly shot by an Israeli man on Wednesday, after she stabbed him during a brawl in Jerusalem's Old City. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online)  - Both parties were taken to the hospital. While the man did not receive serious ... continue reading

All Middle East News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 1:16-25
16 For I see no reason to be ashamed of the gospel; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:37-41
37 He had just finished speaking when a Pharisee ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 13th, 2015 Image

St. Edward the Confessor
October 13: Edward the Confessor was the son of King Ethelred III and his ... Read More