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

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    The Complicated Math of AIDS

    Billions are spent on AIDS prevention, research, treatment — and major events like the International AIDS Conference. Activists say victims of the disease are paying for these costs.

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    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.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora