Turkey's daily confrontation with political violence and murder -- a grim reality that has almost become routine -- was driven deep into the public consciousness late last week as front-page headlines reported the murder here Thursday of Abdi Ipecki, editor of the influential newspaper Milliyet and one of the country's most respected journalists.
Though an estimated 1,000 Turks have been killed in political and religious violence over the past year, "in a way, this one is the worst," says Oktay Eski, the columnist for the nation's largest paper, Hurriyet.
Of all the killings, he said, this is the first "of a nationally prominent person and the first journalist to be killed here in 57 years. We are already living with a form of anarchy and now this is a turning point."
If this crime does not wake up the politicians, he said, and make them work together to find a legal response to terrorism "anarchy will overcome the state."
Thousands of Turks, including Premier Bulent Ecevit, attended Ipecki's funeral Sunday, and all newspapers stopped work for five minutes to honor the editor's memory.
Ipecki's assailants are unknown. But Eski and many other Turks seem to feel the gunmen's idea was to show the Turkish establishment how freely terrorists can operate.
Turkey is a big country, with about 42 million people, 10 percent of them crammed into this huge metropolis that straddles the European and Asian continents. So, crime here, like in any big American or European city, tends to seem distant and to be greeted with a certain public apathy, especially when it involves extremists fighting each other.
Yet the situation now appears to be intruding on ever more lives, some of them innocent bystanders.
A sampling from last Thursday's newspapers:
In Istanbul, a student is shot and killed in front of her house. In Manisa, the high school business director is slain on his way home. In Adana, one person is killed and three wounded when unidentified persons spray machine gunfire into a coffee house from a passing car.
Here in Istanbul, soldiers carrying automatic weapons stand in front of each of the hundreds of banks because, according to official statistics, there have been almost 100 bank robberies in the past year, 10 times the 1975 rate.
At Istanbul's university, soldiers and police stand inside classrooms to keep extremists of the far left and far right away from each other and prevent them from disrupting classes.
In the university cafeteria, only sandwiches are served because knives and forks have been removed as potential weapons. "Other than that," says a weary professor with a grin, "it's pretty normal."
Although Turkey is a parliamentary democracy, parts of the country have been under martial law for a month, since religious warfare in the city of Maras took 102 lives. There is a feeling that the recent killings could produce martial law nationwide.
The martial law was ordered by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit when it became clear that Turkey's 40,000-man police force could not handle the constant extremist violence in a country that is beset with high unemployment, massive economic problems and political stagnation.
The government is now in a severe dilemma. Many Turks believe the violence will get worse whenever martial law is lifted.
The Turkish police are highly politicized, sources here report, with about 17,000 belonging to a generally leftist police association and perhaps 4,000 belonging to a rightist association.
Specialists from England's Scotland Yard and West German police forces were brought here as advisers and reportedly were "appalled" at what they found in terms of politicization of the force and lack of good communications and antiterrorist training.
Large quantities of small arms are said to be entering Turkey through what Eski satirically calls "our good neighbor policy," an allusion to what are believed to be shipments by truck across the Bulgarian frontier, presumably for leftist extremists. Others are coming across what is described as a wide-open Syrian frontier.
Turkey's terrorism problem began the same way it did in France, West Germany and the United States -- with student unrest, mostly on the left, during the late 1960s.
A semimilitary government here in the early 1970s virtually wiped out the leftist extremists.But now they have reemerged.
A perhaps more virulent form of violence, however, has emerged on the far right. Many Turkish moderates believe much of the violence is being carried out by youth commando squads that, orginally at least, were identified with the far right-wing National Action Party and were trained in camps set up to prepare them for attacks on leftists.
The ideology of these relatively small groups is hard to define, with the left split between Maoists and Leninists and the right extrolling an extreme nationalism mixed in with a bit of authoritarian socialism.
The political warfare increasingly has taken innocent victims along with the reprisal killings, as coffee houses and magazine officers are sprayed with gunfire. It is also having an intimidating effect on the population.
On a ferry, crossing the Bosporus on a recent morning, Mehmet Sahin, a tour guide, told a visitor of an incident last year when he was driving behind a bus that suddenly was sprayed with maching gunfire from a passing car. All the potential witnesses disappeared, he said.
Looking at the headlines, he said, "People are thinking now that we are in political, economic and social anarchy. They don't know what tomorrow will bring."
The turmoil at the university is also having another serious effect. Classes close so often due to riots that getting through school takes very long.
The facilities are overcrowded, the education is becoming marginal, and there are few jobs for graduates, Turks say.
One well-educated woman says Turkey is experiencing a brain drain as a result. "It's not a mass exodus but enough to hurt," she said. "The bright young college people just don't have enough opportunity here."
Many Turks seem to believe that the major political parties -- Ecevit's ruling Republican People's Party and Suleiman Demiral's opposition Justice Party -- have acted irresponsibly on the violence issue, blaming it on each other and using it as a potential political tool rather than cooperating to fight it.
"What is wrong with Turkey," says Sahin, "is the state, not the people."