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Deadly Istanbul Nightclub Attack Hits Home For Mill Valley Man

The nightclub attack in Istanbul that left 39 people dead and at least 20 more wounded is too close to home for a Mill Valley man.

Bugra Bakan, 42, grew up in the Turkish city of more than 14 million people.

The murders and mass shootings, which have become the norm instead of the exception, have caused him restless nights. It's nothing compared to what his friends and family in Turkey are feeling.

"If I said sad, nervous, anxious; those words would not be enough," he said. "It's been a bit too much. People don't feel safe. The economy isn't doing that well."

Bakan and his wife Stephanie visited Istanbul in October. They said it's changed since Bugra was a boy. It's not as safe. Deepening differences between those who follow restrictive and religious rules and those who believe in personal freedoms, they said, have helped escalate violence throughout the country.

They largely blame social media propaganda for the widening divisions.

"There's so much misinformation, and it's being used as the news," Bakan said.

While he draws parallels between what's happening there and what's happening in the U.S., he says the problem in Turkey is far worse because there is no freedom of the press. That leaves the Turkish people to choose between government propaganda or misinformation labeled as news on social media.

On the U.S. presidential election, also marred by propaganda, Bakan said many Turks support a Donald Trump presidency.

"They feel that Trump and Putin in better relations will help create a more flexible game plan," Bakan said. And, he added, that could translate into more freedoms in Turkey and less friction between opposing sides.

Bakan said he is less optimistic, but he remains hopeful that peace will prevail in his home of Istanbul.

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