I returned on a Tuesday from a wonderful week in Turkey; three days later, protests filled Istanbul’s Taksim Square [“Protesters are cleared from Turkish square,” news story, June 16]. Granted, I was seeing things through the eyes of a tourist, but I neither saw nor heard anything to indicate that Turkey was anything other than a vibrant, modern country with a superbly developed tourist infrastructure and people as friendly and welcoming as you could wish.

In looking back, though, one thing comes to mind, and that is the number of times I was reminded, often apropos of nothing, that Turkey is a European secular democracy. I heard this stock phrase at least a dozen times, and the emphasis was always on the word secular. At the time, I thought it was just a bit of gentle boasting. Perhaps it really was nervous self-affirmation.

Dan O’Day, Alexandria