The red stars that marked the shops and offices of Marxist-led consumer cooperatives here have been carefully painted over so as not to antagonize the military.
A visitor looking today for one of the city's most militant leftist artists, who had been quite talkative in an encounter three weeks ago, before Turkey's lastest military coup, was told politely that he had left to visit relatives. In fact, he has gone underground to avoid possible arrest.
Residents of Umraniye are clearly worried that the present outward normality is nothing but the calm before a repressive storm.
Four days after the armed forces took control of Turkey, promising to curb the violence of the right as well as the left, this working-class city on the Asian side of the Bosporous across from Istanbul has been left alone, despite the knowledge that it is run by Marxists.
Nervous and apprehensive about the military takeover the determinedly Marxist residents of this bleak squatters' city express the hope that the armed forces will not limit themselves merely to curbing the violence but will also seek to redress the social and economic injustices, which they say are its root causes.
"If the army fails to do it this time," one factory worker said, "then it will be up to the people themselves to do it."
Umraniye, christened by its Marxist residents as "The 1st of May Community" after May Day, the international socialist holiday, was considered by leftists as one of Turkey's so-called "liberated zones" where central authorities had little control.
The odd military patrol of blue beret-wearing soldiers with their automatic rifles slung in front of them still ambles down the potholed mainstreet.
But, according to the inhabitants here, so far there has been no military crackdown since the coup d'etat last Friday.
There have been a few arrests around the city and random searches for arms have been conducted in a few homes. But that sort of thing has been the norm here for the past two years, since the city, like one-third of the nation, was placed under martial law in 1978.
Some residents who before had spoken with great vehemence about their Marxist leanings and their opposition to the state, were picking their words with great caution today and many of the shadowy executive committee that actually runs this city of 220,000 were at pains to publicly express words of hope -- if not satisfaction -- about the military coup.
"I think it [the coup] could be a good thing," said one metalworker. "That is , it would be good if the military ends the fighting between brothers."
One of the leaders of the "1st of May Consumers' Cooperative" said he hoped the army would be unbiased and just in its rule, not siding with the "employers, the capitalist class" as he said they had done after their last intervention in politics in 1971.
"The army must protect the interests of the working class too," the cooperative official said. "if there is to be a crackdown it should not be merely of those on the left but on those of the right too."
At a gathering in the city's teahouse, amid tables of moustached men playing cards and drinking tea in lieu of the traditional Turkish coffee, which today is rarer than jobs here, a young unshaven man who professed to be among the unemployed said: "We must not be prejudiced. We must wait and see what the army does."
To a man, the citizens who gathered in the teashop to talk with a familiar visitor insisted that the real issue in Turkey was not so much the violence but the social inequality that spawned it. Unless the military rulers of the country could deal with that, their rule could hardly be successful, they said. c
The tensions felt in the city, despite its residents' efforts to pretend that all was normal, were palpable when suddenly in the middle of the animated discussions, a jeep with five soldiers screched up in front of the tea shop.
When two soldiers entered the shop with their automatic rifles slung at the ready, a tense hush fell over the establishment. Card players suspended dealing in midhand. All conversation ceased and everyone looked coldly out the window pretending to ignore the soldiers. The air was suddenly electric with fear.
When it turned out that all the soldiers wanted was tea, there was noticeable relief and relaxation. Conversation, and confidence, returned and the card players resumed slapping their cards on the table with a jarring whack.
"We have nothing to be afraid of," said the unshaven, unemployed youth who had been the most animated talker. "We have done nothing wrong."