''Istanbul is changing, due to profit wars between the rich'', admonished the Islamist daily, which supports nationalist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party.
This former capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, of the Byzantine Empire, and then of the Ottoman Empire, has managed to preserve its architectural treasures through the centuries.
But in the past 50 years, modern construction has rapidly encroached on the ancient heart of this city, which has grown to an estimated 15 million inhabitants, many of whom settled in illegal shantytowns, which rapidly consolidated into illegal housing. According to public statistics, 38% of Istanbul homes were built without permits, 70% without an engineer, 67% are not certified as habitable, and 90% of materials used are not up to safety standards.
This unplanned and chaotic urbanization has come with a hefty price tag in terms of pollution and permanent traffic jams. Now a new scourge, skyscrapers, is threatening the city.
''Before it was the shantytowns, now it's the skyscrapers.
Istanbul is sustaining new wounds to its marvelous urban landscape, in the form of gigantic new buildings', Zaman wrote.
Among these novel threats to the cityscape could be a mega mosque Erdogan has promised the population, and which will be seen from every corner of Istanbul.
There is an alleged urban master plan, but it's amenable to bribery: those with money can buy building permits, according to Zaman, citing the Onalti Dokuz Towers, which obscure the 17th century minarets of Sultan Ahmed's Blue Mosque, as a ''national scandal''. ''Istanbul is a little bit like Rome, a little bit like Jerusalem. We can't treat it like Dubai, which is in the middle of the desert', said the President of the Association of Independent Architects, Ozguz Oztuczu. Istanbul, he said, is the victim of a 'vulgar sacking, which is undermining not only the city, but Turkish society itself'. (ANSAMed).