News / Europe

Erdogan's Rule at Center of Turkey's Mounting Protests

An anti-government protester waves a Turkish flag depicting the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as thousands of protesters gather in Istanbul's Taksim square, June 9, 2013.
An anti-government protester waves a Turkish flag depicting the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as thousands of protesters gather in Istanbul's Taksim square, June 9, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan waves to his supporters next to his wife Emine Erdogan in Ankara, June 9, 2013.Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan waves to his supporters next to his wife Emine Erdogan in Ankara, June 9, 2013.
x
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan waves to his supporters next to his wife Emine Erdogan in Ankara, June 9, 2013.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan waves to his supporters next to his wife Emine Erdogan in Ankara, June 9, 2013.
In a series of speeches condemning ongoing unrest, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has evoked memories of previous secular-based protests against his government - protests that were strongly backed by pro-army groups. But analysts say this latest unrest appears more civic based with youth protesting for individual freedom.  

Gezi Park in Istanbul is the eye of a political storm that is raging across the country.

What began as a protest to save the park from being demolished has galvanized the protesters around the country who are criticizing the prime minister's governance, which protesters say is increasingly authoritarian.

One demonstrator, Ayse, who works as a librarian, said, "Everything started from many things. It was first you can't kiss on the street. You can't drink. He is changing the education. He is not asking, "do I really want my child to be happy?" instead of thinking if she has to go religious school. So it means that he will do anything he wants to do. It's like clapping hands. Change this! Cut this! You also you have to listen to these people as well."

Observers say the protest movement appears to be made up of Turkey's largely apolitical young middle class.
 
In the center of the protest park, Ihsan Eliacik holds Friday noon prayers. Surrounded by TV cameras, 100 faithful prayed under the baking sun. Eliacik, who heads a left-Islamic civil rights group, said this protest is heralding a new Turkey.

He said they completed Friday prayers in Gezi Park a day after celebrating an Islamic holy night there. He said no one drank a sip of alcohol that night. He said women in headscarves walk freely in the park. Eliacik adds that the social division in Turkey is between those who exploit power versus the rest of society.

It's not the first the time Mr. Erdogan has faced mass protests.

A decade ago, hundred of thousands mobilized in support of secularism, carrying flags and banners showing secular state founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. There were calls for the pro-secular military to intervene against changes pushed by the Islamist-rooted government.

But analysts say the current unrest appears different. There have been no military demands and images of Ataturk are few in Gezi Park.

Analyst Istar Gozaydin of Dogus University has devoted much of her academic life to the battle between Islam and secularism and said this latest unrest is very different.
 
"These groups are not relying on prior ancien [old] regime supported by the military. This is more of personal freedoms, more personal lifestyle. They have the common point of not being able to cope with the single lifestyle that the current government is trying to impose," Gozaydin said.

"However," Gozaydin added, "just being religious believers has not made them a target by the uprising groups. It's not this polarization of believers - non-believers or whatever, secularists and Islamist, kind of thing. That is a very significant change in society."

On Sunday, Mr. Erdogan toured the country addressing a series of mass meetings of his supporters. He warned protesters. He said Turkish officials are going to show patience, but warned that patience has a limit. He said the time of coups is over, alluding to past interventions by the Turkish military.

Analyst Gozaydin said the current protest movement offers Turkey a chance at improving social dialogue.

"These processes that have been taking place seem to be leading to another understanding; that different understandings, different approaches, different lifestyles are able to exist together," Gozaydin said. "If that happens to be achieved, that means a long way has been taken in this path to a democratic society."  

But Monday, there were renewed clashes between protesters and security forces in the capital, Ankara. And the head of the opposition Republican People's Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, accused the prime minister of escalating tensions and dragging the country "into the fire."

Analysts predict that the current unrest shows little sign of abating.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid